About / Mission / History

About IMLA

The International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA) is a non-profit, professional organization that has been an advocate and resource for local government attorneys since 1935. IMLA serves as an international clearinghouse of legal information and cooperation on municipal legal matters. IMLA collects from and disseminates information to its membership across the United States and Canada and helps governmental officials prepare for litigation and develop new local laws.

Every year, IMLA’s legal staff provides accurate, up-to-date information and valuable counsel to hundreds of requests from members. IMLA also provides a variety of services, publications and programs to help members who are facing legal challenges. For the past 85+ years, IMLA has held cutting-edge national conferences, bringing local government attorneys together to network. IMLA champions the development of fair and realistic legal solutions and provides its members with information about, and solutions to, the profusion of legal issues facing local government lawyers today.

Our mission is to serve local government lawyers and to advance the interests of local government law locally, nationally, and internationally.

Our mission is to serve local government lawyers and to advance the interests of local government law locally, nationally, and internationally.


IMLA’s first Executive Director, Charles S. Rhyne, combined a career in litigation with a life of public service as a leader in America and in the world. As a litigator, Rhyne successfully argued the groundbreaking case of Baker v. Carr in the Supreme Court of the United States. However, Rhyne was not simply known as a litigator. His exceptional career spanned many arenas. In 1958, he was elected as the youngest President ever of the American Bar Association (ABA). During Charles Rhyne’s tenure at the ABA and through his efforts, Law Day was established. In 1961, a joint resolution of Congress designated May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day – USA. This program continues to this day and has spread to many other countries as World Law Day.

For IMLA members and local government lawyers, Charles Rhyne will be remembered as the pivotal force in the success of IMLA (formerly the National Institute of Municipal Law Officers). In late 1935, Rhyne met with Fiorella La Guardia of New York City, Richard Daley of Chicago, and other large city mayors, many of whom were themselves lawyers. The idea of national cooperation between municipalities on legal matters was discussed, and shortly after, NIMLO was born. Rhyne and NIMLO went on to file numerous amicus briefs on topics from antitrust to zoning — labor relations, federal tax liens, rent control, employment, natural gas rates, criminal law, Indian rights under federal law, energy law, aviation, annexations, and others.

Charles Rhyne received both the Gold Award, the highest award of the American Bar Association, and the Francis Stradford Award, as well as the Grotius Peace Award. He twice was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

View IMLA's IRS Form 990