Attorney and civil rights activist James E. McIver was one of the original founders of LMBA. McIver, a Seattle native, graduated from Franklin High School and earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Washington. In 1942, McIver enlisted in the U.S. Army and received an honorable discharge in 1946. McIver completed his legal education at Howard University School of Law.
McIver practiced law in Washington, DC before returning to Seattle to become one of the first African-American deputy prosecutors for King County. In November 1952, McIver received an appointment to the position of Assistant Attorney General for the Industrial Insurance Division, becoming the first African-American to hold an attorney position within the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.
McIver practiced at Walthew, Warner & Keefe where his intolerance of racial injustice which led him to defend controversial clients in criminal matters. His contribution to civil rights legal history is found in Browning v. Slenderella, 54 Wn.2d 440 (1959), where he successfully sued a private beauty salon owner for damages under Washington’s public accommodations law when the salon owner denied service to an African-American woman.
McIver was also active in the NAACP where he served as the State Executive Board in 1955 and was President of its Seattle Chapter. He was the first African-American to serve on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Police Practices. Members of LMBA must give credit to James McIver as the principal proponent for the LMBA’s formation in 1968. Without his urging it may have been years before the small cadre of Black attorneys in Washington State found their collective voice.