In 1984 Chief Judge Charles Clark sought the help of several Fifth Circuit attorney practitioners to form the Bar Association of the Fifth Federal Circuit. Chief Judge Clark explained that the purpose of the Bar Association would be to enable attorneys who have an active and continuing interest in the work of the bankruptcy, trial and appellate courts in the Fifth Circuit to work more closely with the judges of these courts to improve the administration of justice. Several other goals were proposed to the initial charter members of the Board of Governors who agreed to work with Chief Judge Clark to establish such an association. Among the goals were the following:
- To publish on a regular basis a current synopsis of recent decision and pending cases before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals;
- To work with trial and appellate courts in the Fifth Circuit to develop and implement effective, efficient, uniform rules of practice and procedure;
- To raise the standards of lawyer proficiency and federal practice by sponsoring and presenting a federal appellate seminar;
- To participate actively in delegate selection and substantive programs of the Fifth Circuit Judicial Conference and;
- To recommend to the Judicial Committee of the Fifth Circuit candidates for membership on the attorneys advisory committee.
Chief Judge Clark expressed to the initial charter governors that one of his ultimate goals was to raise the standards of integrity and professionalism of practice before the Fifth Circuit.
The initial charter governors were Marvin Sloman, Don Richard, Ken Mackey, LeRoy Jahn, Larry Frank, Robert G. Pugh, Frank Hunger and Jim Montgomery. Of these initial charter governors the only governor still active in the organization is Don Richard. The association began with a core group of 1000 members in 1984. Now the membership is over 6000.
The first Fifth Circuit Reporter was published by West Publishing Company in May 1984. It was a monthly compilation of the cases pending before Court as well as the cases that had been decided. The pending cases and the recent opinions were categorized to for easy research and reference. Articles on appellate practice and regular updates were also included. The last Reporter was October 2007. The Association now operates a full service website that contains all the information that was once printed in the Reporter, with a daily e-mail service of opinions rendered by the Court.
The first Appellate Advocacy Seminar was presented in October 1984. The uniqueness of the seminars involved witnessing actual oral arguments followed by critiquing of the arguments in the courtrooms after close of court. The seminars were suspended in 2005 because of Hurricane Katrina and resumed in 2007.
Since 2009, the association has provided continuing legal education for attorney participants in the biannual Judicial Conference.