In Celebration of Our Black History: Highlighting NBA President Emeritus O. T. Wells

February 14, 2017


In honor of Black History Month, join the National Bar Association (NBA) in saluting the accomplishments of African American pioneers who have shaped the legal community. Throughout February, we will highlight heroes who have worked to advance the respect and rights of minorities in the scope of the law. We invite NBA members to submit biographies of African American leaders that have made important contributions to breaking down barriers and redefining what it means to be a lawyer of color. We will share these celebrations as sources of discussion, appreciation and inspiration. Part of our NBA mission is to ensure the work of past innovators is not forgotten, but carried forward.


Ozro Thaddeus "OT" Wells, Esq.
President of the National Bar Association (1972-1973) 

In 1959, President Emeritus Ozro Thaddeus Wells (O.T.) co-founded one of the first minority law firms in lower Manhattan that focused on criminal defense work.

During the height of the Civil Rights era, Wells was co-counsel in the first sit-in cases in New York State and represented one of the leading civil rights organizations, the Council for Racial Equality (CORE). He also represented attorneys, judges, elected officials, and the late great jazz trumpeter, Miles Davis. In the early 1970s, Wells worked for the Department of Defense under President Richard Nixon, and traveled with a delegation to Germany where they investigated issues between Black United States military personnel and German nationals.

As President of the National Bar Association, Wells was called upon during the Watergate scandal to be a member of Attorney General Elliot Richardson's five-man advisory.

Wells has served as General Counsel for the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), and he has also served as counsel to the Presiding Bishop and General Board of COGIC. He is presently "Of Counsel" to the law firm of Donaldson & Chilliest, LLP. in New York City. Attorney Wells is barred in the states of New York and Massachusetts, within the US Supreme Court; the US Court of Appeals for the Second and Fifth Circuits, and the US District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. He received his bachelors degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia (1953) and his law degree from Boston University School of Law. Attorney Wells also served in the U.S. Army in the Signal Corps in its meteorology department.


The National Bar Association was founded in 1925 and is the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges. It represents the interests of approximately 60,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students. The NBA is organized around 23 substantive law sections, nine divisions, 12 regions and 80 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and around the world. For more information, visit: