History of the Inns of Court
History of the Inns of Court in the United States
In the late 1970s, U.S. Chief Justice Warren Burger led a
movement to create Inns of Court in the United States. Although
they are loosely modeled after the traditional English Inns,
American Inns of Court do not include any real property. They are
groups of judges, practicing attorneys, law professors and students
who meet regularly to discuss and debate issues relating to legal
ethics and professionalism. American Inn of Court meetings
typically consist of a shared meal and a program presented by one
of the Inn's pupillage teams. Chief Justice Burger and others
established the American Inns of Court Foundation in 1985 to
promote and charter Inns of Court across the United States.
The U.S. does not require attorneys to be a member of an Inn of
Court, and many of the equivalent functions are performed by Bar
Origins of the Inns of Court
The Inns of Court began in the United Kingdom.
Several centuries ago, the Inns were any of a sizable number of
buildings or precincts where barristers traditionally lodged,
trained and carried on their profession. Over the centuries
the number of active Inns of Court was reduced to the present
• Gray's Inn
• Lincoln's Inn
• The Inner Temple
• The Middle Temple
Lincoln's Inn is able to trace its official records to 1422
(i.e. beyond those of the other three); however, by tradition, none
of the Inns claims to be the oldest of the four.
The Inns are near the western boundary of the City of London;
nearby are the Royal Courts of Justice
(opened in 1882; previously sat in Westminster Hall), which were
placed in the legal quarter of London for convenience. Each inn is
a substantial complex with a great hall, chapel, libraries, sets of
chambers for many hundreds of barristers, and gardens, and covers
several acres. The layout is similar to that of an "Oxbridge"
college. The "chambers" were originally used as residences as well
as business premises by many of the barristers, but today, with a
small number of exceptions, they serve as offices only.