On Thursday, September 18th, 2014, the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association will hold its most important General Membership meeting of the year. The meeting will be held in the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association courtroom at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.  Every paid member is encouraged to attend as a vote critical to the future of the organization and members of San Diego’s African American communities will be taken. Below is a message from one of the original founding members of the Association of Black Lawyers of San Diego County – the group that became the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association.  Please read his note and see the link to the Constitution and Bylaws

Message from Dennis W. Dawson:

To members of the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association: The September 18, 2014 (6:00 p.m.) meeting in the Earl B. Gilliam Moot Courtroom at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law is a critical opportunity for you to reshape the future of our Bar Association.  At this meeting we African American lawyers can strategically rededicate ourselves to advancing the full spectrum of all the purposes for which we were historically organized in 1976.  On September 18, 2014, we earnestly seek your vote to: (1) change the name of the existing Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association, a 501c(3) non-profit corporation, to the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Foundation (Foundation) and (2) create a new Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association (Association), organized as a 501c(6) non-profit corporation. 

Esteemed members, this is the best of both worlds for us.  As a c3, the Foundation will continue all the functions now performed by the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association, including fundraising for law student scholarships.  I am sure you will agree that, under its existing c(3) status, the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association has and cannot have a real political voice or influence in San Diego. However, as a c(6), the new Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association will once again carefully engage in political advocacy and will fully assert its voice and influence in matters of public policy in San Diego.     

The new c(6) Association will immediately seek to publicly and politically address some very important issues affecting both African American lawyers and the community.  These include, but are not limited to the following:

1.  Correcting the dearth of African American attorneys being hired in public agencies, which should operate with staffs reflecting all of the communities they serve;

2.  Reversing the plunge in appointment and election of African American attorneys to the bench in San Diego;

3.  Retention of the existing African American judges on the Bench;

4.  Consistent with the best interests of African American lawyers and of our community, advocating for the election of candidates we deem most qualified to hold important public offices and for the passage or for the defeat of significant ballot proposals; and

5.  Participating in the legislative process on selected bills of particular interest to African American lawyers and to our community.

We simply cannot afford to be unlike other bar associations which, for years, have routinely openly advocated in the political arena for the advancement of their own members and their own communities, while their members independently fundraise through separately created and operated foundations.  Members, let us come out to the September 18, 2014 meeting at 6p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Law School, and vote to create both a Earl B. Gilliam Foundation under the existing 501c(3) exemption and a 501c(6) Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association which is fully empowered to meet all of our obligations to our members and to our people. 

Thank you.

Dennis W. Dawson, Co-Founder and Past President, Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association


Bylaws 501c6 Organization – 8-13-14

Constitution 501c6 Organization – 8-13-14

What is a 501(c)(6) organization?

What are 501(c)(3) exemption requirements?


The motions to be voted upon by the paid membership in attendance are:

1. Motion to support the formation of a politically active, 501(c)(6) organization that will have a broad mission to provide leadership on many issues, electoral races and matters of concern to African American lawyers and all members of the African American communities across San Diego County.
2. Motion to change the name of the existing Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association to the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Foundation to enable the new politically active organization to become the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association.**
**This change will cause the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association to mirror the California Association of Black Lawyers, the Charles Houston Bar Association, the National Bar Association and most legal associations across the state in being able to advocate for political as well as other social change.

If you have any questions or concerns you are welcome to contact Dennis directly or to reach out to any member of the Board of Directors or others in our legal community.  The goal is for this process to be as transparent as possible. If you need help contacting anyone related to these issues, please email opassons@gmail.com for assistance.