By Scott "Scooter" Haith
Slide off that slick fork an’ cool your saddle pilgrim. Grab ya self a cup a Arbuckle’s and come on over by the fire. I gotta tale ta tell ya ‘bout a passel a mavericks who call themselves the Cowboy Lawyers Association.

Back in ’89, a defense lawyer was as nervous as a long tailed cat under a rockin’ chair as he sat in the chambers of a notorious Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge. He was awaitin’ for the judge to unload on him with both barrels or not comin’ up with more money to settle a case. The lawyer, who was one a them flannel mouthed hombres who could talk a cow outa her calf, carefully fixed his eyes on a photo of what appeared to be the judge dressed in cowboy boots, hat, and chaps hanging from a hangmen’s noose. Before the judge could cut into him the lawyer skillfully diverted the judges attention to the photograph. The judge, who was known to be as full a wind as a hoss with colic, gladly explained that he loved them four legged critters and rode for relaxation. The photo, he explained, had been taken on his annual horseback ride in Wickenberg, Arizona. The defense lawyer, sensing he had a escaped the brandin’ chute, explained that he owned horses, loved to ride and had always wanted to start a outfit for lawyers and judges that shared his passion for the ol’ west. That case never settled, but the seeds of the Cowboy Lawyers Association had been planted.

‘Bout this same time, two vaqueros de abogados was brush popping through the trails in Whittier Narrows complain’ to each other ‘bout not having more folks to ride with. They agreed to start lookin’ for lawyers and judges who would be interested in formin’ a cowboy outfit. How the lawyer, the judge and these vaqueros got together is not really clear, but in ‘89 the four of them, one of whom is a former Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, gathered at the kitchen table of the lawyer over chorizo and huevos to hammer out a set of by-laws for what eventually became The Cowboy Lawyers Association.

On Memorial Day, 1989, CLA’s first ride was held at the Totem Pole Ranch in Palmdale, California. Thirty riders gathered for what became the Inaugural Cowboy Lawyer Ride. Twenty two of them riders became the first members of the Cowboy Lawyers Association, and later, a long succession of presidents and officers. The other eight riders couldn’t track a fat squaw through a snow drift and are still wanderin’ the trails. What started in the chambers of that judge, on the trails in Whitter Narrows and at that kitchen table in ‘89 has now become an association of over 200 lawyers and judges from San Diego to San Francisco, including several out-of-state members and members in other countries.

CLA was founded on the simple idea that there are a large number of attorneys and judges in the legal communities throughout this country who hold the Spirit of the Old West close to their hearts, and can think of no finer way a spendin’ their free time than on the back of a fine horse ridin’ through beautiful country. If you’re lookin’ to "network" with other attorneys, head on down the trail and find ya self another horse you’re saddle ‘ll fit, cuz this group ain’t for you, pard. The CLA members go to great pains not to be talkin’ legal stuff and the practice of law at the numerous rides held throughout the year. Lifelong friendships have been made on these rides. Many CLA members have had their cowboy dreams come true cowboyin’ on workin’ cattle ranches in Nevada, California, Colorado, Arizona and Montana from the CLA friendships they have made.


For the last fourteen years, CLA has been puttin’ on three or so catered overnight multi-day rides and three or so day rides per year beginning in the spring and ending in the fall. CLA has put on rides as far south as Cuyamaca State Park in San Diego County and as far north as Point Reyes near San Francisco. Rides have also included the spectacular mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe, and the beaches of Morro Bay. The day rides are kept within approximately a 40 mile radius of downtown Los Angeles and have included Vasquez Rocks in Santa Clarita, Hidden Creek in Moorpark, Chino Hills in Chino, on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and at Malibu Creek State Park in Malibu, California.

For those a you that like competition, we have calf sortin’, team pennin’, gymkhana and other horse related stuff on some of the overnight rides. At the V-6 Ranch, we gather, sort, brand, castrate, doctor and do just about everythin’ to them calves.

For those of you who are Equus impaired and either don’t own horses or do but wouldn’t think of bringin’ your rope or cuttin’ hoss on one of these rides, we’ve gotta hell of a good stock contractor who has been with us from the getgo who will rent you a fine trail horse that’ll carry you on down the trail.

And if that ain’t enuff fun for ya pard, there’s the Annual President’s Party in February when we all get a chance to get all ragged out in our fancy doodads and dance till you’re feet fell like they wintered on hard pasture.


If you’re still readin’ we musta got your interest in becomin’ a member. Membership in the CLA is limited to Judges and lawyers regardless of gender. The membership in this organization is split equally between cowboys and cowgirls.

The Association has an open guest policy on its rides which permits members to invite guests on the rides provided they are sponsored by a member who also must attend the ride.

To qualify for membership an applicant must attend either two of the many CLA day rides, or one overnight multi-day ride, and pay the first year membership dues of $125, and a $200 initial fee for which the member receives the official Cowboy Lawyer belt buckle. For an application, email or call any of the folks lists on the Contact Us page in this here website.

Don’t just stand there like ya got nothin ’to do but stand ‘round an’ scratch your seat, fill out an application and find out what this outfit is all about. If ya don’t, you’ll be sorrier than a calf with the slobbers.

The Cowboy Lawyers Association is incorporated as a California non-profit mutual benefit corporation. The corporation is a pleasure and recreation club that is tax-exempt under the provisions of section 501(c)(7) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. Membership is open to all qualified applicants who like to camp and horseback ride without regard to race, color or religion. The club owns no property, it has no employees, and its directors and officers are volunteers who serve without compensation. All of the club's membership dues and other receipts are used to fund social and recreational activities.



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