Members of the legal profession began practicing in Houston in 1837, one year after Texas gained its independence from Mexico and became a Republic. The earliest evidence of organization among the city's attorneys dates to 1870, when the original Houston Bar Association was formed. Judge Peter W. Gray was elected president of the association, whose objectives were to raise the standards of the legal profession and to purchase a law library. The organization was short-lived, however, and no records concerning its activity have been found. In 1901, fifty-three attorneys joined together to form the Harris County Bar Association, but it too ceased to exist after a few years.
The present Houston Bar Association was formed on March 26, 1904. Among its early accomplishments was a campaign to build the 1910 Harris County Courthouse (present Harris County Civil Courts building) and the establishment of the Harris County Law Library in 1915.
Throughout its history, the Houston Bar Association has supported programs to serve the community, including legal services to the indigent, legal education, lawyer referral services, legal publications, and other volunteer projects.