History of the First District Appellate American Inn of Court

The First District Appellate American Inn of Court became a chartered organization in June of 2008, with the help of an Organizing Committee which included such esteemed members as Judge James R. Wolf, Judge Peter D. Webster, Judge Charles J. Kahn, and Judge William A. Van Nortwick.

While there were numerous Trial Inns throughout the country, the First District Court of Appeal American Inn was only the third Appellate Inn established in the United States. The Organizing Committee envisioned the Inn as a platform for bettering appellate professionalism in the First District, while simultaneously bringing together lawyers, specializing in the appellate arena, to encourage the growth of professional relationships. In addition, one of the Committee's foremost goals included bringing together judges, experienced appellate lawyers, law professors, less experienced lawyers, and students allowing for mentoring opportunities reaching from the most experienced down to the newest members of the profession.

The Organizing Committee's visions have become a reality. The members of the current Inn meet often and the established mentoring relationships are furthered through meetings with small teams, each headed by an appellate judge. The Inn's success has encouraged further participation in the state of Florida, which now houses three appellate Inns.

First District Appellate American Inn of Court Handbook

Inn Meetings

Monthly Meetings

The First District Inn program year begins in September and ends in April. Monthly meetings are typically held at the First District Court of Appeal building located at 2000 Drayton Drive, Tallahassee. One meeting per year is held in conjunction with the E. Robert Williams American Inn of Court at a location in Jacksonville.

Meetings are comprised of two parts. First, a designated Inn "team" will present a "program." Second, the members of the Inn will gather in the Court Commons for dinner.

An Inn representative will contact each member by e-mail approximately two weeks before each meeting. The e-mail will indicate the meeting location, date, and time. Members are required to RSVP for each meeting according to the instructions in the e-mail.

1. Reporting for Meetings

When Inn meetings are held at the First District Court of Appeal, members should report to the court's front entrance to pass through security. At that time, each member should retrieve his or her name tag, which an Inn representative will be distributing at the door. The name tags must be returned to the same representative at the end of the meeting.

For the annual Inn meeting in Jacksonville, members will receive instructions by e-mail regarding where to meet. Group transportation will be arranged in advance from Tallahassee to Jacksonville.

2. Attire

Members must wear business attire (business suits) to all monthly meetings.

3. Guests

Inn members may bring guests to the monthly meetings. To RSVP your guest, please follow the instructions on the e-mail setting forth the details of each meeting.

Member Responsibilities

A. Participation in Monthly Programs

At the start of the Inn year, each member will be assigned to a "team" under the tutelage of a different appellate court judge. Each team assumes the responsibility for presenting one program and sponsoring one meal during the Inn year. The schedule will be staggered so that the same team will not be responsible for providing the program and meal at the same meeting.

Members are required to meet with their teams and take an active role in preparing the program. Responsibilities vary from preparing audio visual aids to presenting a mock oral argument.

B. Participation in Inn Pro Bono Project

Members are encouraged to participate in the Inn's pro bono project. Each member must make a concerted effort to provide ten hours of appellate pro bono services to clients. As will be described below, members can research pro bono opportunities through the Inn's website, and will also receive e-mail blasts listing different opportunities. At the end of the Inn year, members should report their hours to their team leader.

C. Attendance

Members are expected to attend each meeting during the Inn year. Members are required to sign an attendance sheet for each meeting.

Members can indicate their unavailability by responding to the RSVP e-mail sent before each meeting. A member may change their RSVP at any time prior to the meeting. A member may not skip the meeting if his or her team is responsible for that evening's program.

If a member misses more than three meetings, his or her membership may not be renewed the following year.

D. Dues

Members must pay annual dues before the first meeting of each Inn year. An Inn representative will send each member an e-mail with the dues amount. Dues are calculated on an annual basis depending on each member's status.

E. Contact Information

Members should notify their team leader of any change in mailing address, phone number, or e-mail address.

Pro Bono Service

As stated above, each Inn member should strive to provide ten hours of pro bono appellate services during the course of each Inn year. While this hourly requirement is flexible, it should be each member's goal to meet it.

A. Where to Find Pro Bono Opportunities

The pro bono services should be in the form of appellate legal work. Members can inquire and accept pro bono opportunities in two ways. The first way is to access the portal on the Inn's website for "Pro Bono Opportunities." By following this link, members will see a list of various pro bono services in North Florida. Members may follow links to the home page for each service, where they may reserach opportunities. The second way is to check the periodic e-mail blasts sent by Inn representatives. These e-mails will contain a brief description of current appellate cases which require pro bono services.

B. Reporting Hours

Members should keep track of the approximate number of hours spent on each case. At the end of the Inn year, each member should report his or her number of pro bono hours to their team leader.

C. Law Clerks and Law Students

Law clerk and law student members are prohibited from providing direct pro bono services to clients. This does not preclude them from participating. Law clerks may satisfy the hourly requirement by compiling the brief descriptions included in the e-mail blasts. Law students may satisfy their hourly requirement by providing legal research for member attorneys already assigned to active pro bono cases.

American Inns of Court Diversity Policy