Fostering Excellence in Professionalism, Ethics, Civility, and Legal Skills

Boston Inn of Court History

From its quiet beginnings during late-night discussions between two law students in 1990, the Boston Inn of Court has blossomed into a strong cadre of Boston's best and brightest members of the bench, bar, and academia. Throughout its growth, the Inn and its members have continued to practice the principles conceived of during those early discussions.

The idea was to gather cross-sections from the bar. Plaintiffs lawyers would sit with those who do defense work. Seasoned practitioners would mix with law students. Judges would share ideas with counsel. The purpose of this endeavor would be to encourage a sharing of experiences, an encouragement of professionalism, and a dedication to ethics. Today, these ideals have borne fruit, and the ninety-member Inn encourages good practice and good sportsmanship among its membership and throughout the bar at large.

The two law students who started the Inn during their third years at Boston University School of Law were David Benfield and Chris Kenney. After discussing the idea for an Inn between themselves, they approached B.U. Law professors Julius Levine and Robert Burdick. Levine and Burdick encouraged and assisted the students in pursuing the idea further. The group contacted the American Inns of Court for guidance and then formed an organizing committee.

Interest in the organization was not immediately overwhelming. The group thought, however, that if they could attract even a few well-known names to their effort, perhaps the interest of others would be sparked. Fortunately, a number of legal luminaries were at that time teaching trial advocacy classes on a part-time basis at B.U., and the group began to pitch their idea to them. Several of the teachers bit. Federal District Court Judge William Young, State Supreme Judicial Court Judge Joseph Nolan, and Bingham Dana LLP attorney William McCormack agreed to lend their names and their efforts to the endeavor.

Now, with a well-recognized trio at the vanguard, the Inn advertised an organizational meeting to take place in early 1990. Some fifty judges, lawyers, and law students packed into B.U.'s moot courtroom, and the Inn was off and running. The attendees elected Mr. McCormack as their first president and within weeks, an Inn delegation traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the American Inns of Court annual meeting. There, the American Inns of Court rewarded the Boston Inn for its efforts by chartering it as the nation's 100th Inn of Court, a distinction that the Boston Inn proudly holds today.

Early Inn meetings were held in Judge Young's courtroom. After the substantive portion of the meeting, members would walk over to the Boston office of Bingham Dana LLP at 150 Federal Street for a social dinner. As the membership of the Inn grew to over eighty members, it moved its meetings to Maison Robert, a popular restaurant located inside of Boston's historic Old City Hall on School Street.

Additionally, in 2001, the Boston Inn of Court sent a representative to the national American Inns of Court Celebration of Excellence. In 2001, the annual event was hosted by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the United States Supreme Court on October 20. The 2001 A. Sherman Christensen Award was presented to Joryn Jenkins, Esq. of Tampa, FLA and the Honorable Shirley Mount Hufstedler of Los Angeles, CA was the recipient of the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Award for Professionalism and Ethics. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor also attended to join the Honorable Randy J. Holland, AIC Board of Trustees President, and fellow attendees in honoring Robert L. Hutton of Memphis, TN, the first recipient of the Sandra Day O'Connor Award, which was established by the AIC Trustees. The Boston Inn of Court Program Director Jim Harrington represented The Boston AIC and was able to meet and speak with both Supreme Court Justices.