Honoring Our Roots in the Orange County Bar Association

The Orange County Bar Association (OCBA) and Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC) have a long and rich history in the county. LASOC traces its roots and existence to the OCBA.

The OCBA was founded in 1901 when ten lawyers met in the newly completed Orange County Courthouse to establish an association to provide mutual support among attorneys, foster professional development, and contribute to the community. By the 1950s it became apparent to its members that there was an ongoing need for legal services for those who were unable to afford them.  This became a subject of discussions as the OCBA planned how to address the need.

In 1956, out of the discussions, the OCBA Auxiliary (which became known as the “Lawyers’ Wives” and then the “Orange County Law Auxiliary”) established a reference program under the guidance of the OCBA. The President of the OCBA at the time who spearheaded this endeavor was Delbert L. Larsh (the grandfather of the newly elected Orange County Superior Court Assistant Presiding Judge Eric Larsh).

The Lawyers’ Wives staffed the reference office. Participating attorneys accepted a five-dollar conference fee and turned over 25 percent of their referral fee to the reference program. By 1958 every member of the OCBA pledged financial support for legal aid and on May 9th LASOC was established hiring its first attorney, Patricia Herzog. One of the OCBA Presidents, Art Nisson, wrote the articles of incorporation and served on the board of directors.

As LASOC celebrates its 60th anniversary, current OCBA President Nikki Miliband comments, “LASOC is a fundamental part of the Orange County legal community providing free legal services to those most in need – low-income families, individuals and senior citizens, which complements the mission of the OCBA – to enhance the system of justice, to support the lawyers who serve it, and to assist the community served by it. The OCBA, through its Pro Bono Committee, chaired by Larisa Dinsmoor and Daniel Robinson, look forward to working with LASOC towards our common goals of assisting the most vulnerable and at risk in the Orange County community with much needed legal services.”