No Bar to Involvement

Long Beach Bar Association’s youngest president at 33, Ethan Miller-Bazemore also takes time to surf.

Ethan Miller-BazemoreEthan Miller-Bazemore is the youngest person to be president of the Long Beach Bar Association. In addition to his estate planning practice, pro bono work and association activities, he makes time for surfing and riding his Harley. Photo courtesy of Scott Smeltzer, Long Beach Press Telegram

Ethan Miller-Bazemore (B.A. Political Science, ’96) is what you might call an overachiever.

He was an all-star soccer player in high school, was named University Athlete of the Year at Sonoma State University, and was a regular on the Dean’s List before graduating with a law degree from Southwestern University.

Last month, at age 33, he also became the youngest president in the history of the Long Beach Bar Association.

“Overachiever,” he admits, “is probably a fair assessment.”

“I wasn’t the most athletic person,” he says. “But I was always the best on every team because I tried the hardest.”

Miller-Bazemore says he hopes to tap into that work ethic once again during his yearlong tenure as president of the Long Beach Bar Association.

In addition to providing a local network of attorneys, the 91-year-old Association provides weekly pro-bono work at the Long Beach Courthouse, operates a referral service through its Web site and gives out college scholarships to local students.

Miller-Bazemore’s first order of business? Infusing the Bar with new, young attorneys.

“I think the Bar is in need of fresh blood, so to speak,” he says, adding, “I would guess the average member is 50 (years old) with 15 years’ experience.”

Miller-Bazemore could be his own poster child for the kind of attorney he’s hoping to attract.

He’s both a devoted attorney and Gen-Xer. He practices estate planning and drives a Harley Davidson motorcycle. He spends several evenings a month giving his time to a variety of law-related boards and committees, then spends his weekends surfing.

But growing membership is never easy.

Miller-Bazemore acknowledges that, like so many worthy causes, the Long Beach Bar is competing with a litany of other obligations. Getting the existing members to come to monthly meetings is difficult enough.

“I sort of want to make it fun again,” he says.

A Huntington Beach native, Miller-Bazemore has been heavily influenced by his mother, Sandra Miller, a family law attorney and, incidentally, his biggest fan.

In 1968, she became the youngest woman elected to public office in California when she earned a seat on the city council of Signal Hill, a town near Long Beach. Her husband died when Ethan was 8 years old, and Sandra persevered as a single, working mother.

“Some nights, when she couldn’t get a babysitter, she took me to the Long Beach Bar Association meetings,” Miller-Bazemore recalls. “So I’ve been going to them since I was 10 years old.”

Out of high school and Sonoma State University, where he excelled in soccer, Miller-Bazemore earned his Juris Doctor degree and joined his mother’s law office in Seal Beach. He ultimately chose estate planning over family law, however.

“It’s a great little niche for younger lawyers,” he says of estate litigation, adding that the baby boom generation is at retirement age and driving plenty of new business his way.

Miller-Bazemore acknowledges that he may have reached his height of involvement in membership organizations. He’s unmarried and has no children, which affords him more free time than many attorneys.

Enough time to travel, invest in real estate and, of course, to surf.

And, for the record, there’s a group in Malibu consisting entirely of lawyers who surf as a hobby. It’s called the Association of Surfing Lawyers.

And, yes, Miller-Bazemore is a member of that, too.

Ethan Miller-Bazemore played for Sonoma State’s mens soccer team from 1993-1996, and had an outstanding career.

Story courtesy of Long Beach Press Telegram