In the late 1990's, a group of lawyers and judges got together to follow a tradition that began in England and has been around for centuries, The Inn of Court. The Honorable Gary Flower, Homer Bliss, Cindy Catalan and David Garfinkel formalized The Florida Family Law American Inn of Court after initially meeting informally to discuss family law, professionalism, trial techniques and procedures, and to discuss new family law ideas. After meeting numerous times and feeling that this type of dialogue would assist others in the practice of family law, The Inn of Court was born.
At that time in Jacksonville, there already existed the Chester Bedell Inn of Court, which was a general practice Inn. The American Inn of Courts recognized family law as a separate entity for establishment of a separate Inn of Court. The founding members' solicited The Honorable Jean Johnson and Demere Mason to help organize an Inn of Court specializing in family law. The Honorable Jean Johnson and Homer Bliss then attended a seminar on how to start an Inn of Court.
Charter members were sent invitations to join the Inn of Court and during its formation and initial year. The Florida Family Law American Inn of Court was assisted greatly by the judges then on the family law bench being Judge Jean Johnson, Judge David Wiggins, Judge Karen Cole, Judge Bernard Nachman and Judge Jack Schemer. Additional impetus came from the help of Chief Justice Major Harding of THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT and The Honorable Susan Black of the 11th CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS.
History of the American Inns of Court
The American Inns of Court concept was the product of a discussion in the late 1970's among the United States' members of the Anglo American exchange of lawyers and judges, including Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit 3. Clifford Wallace. Chief Justice Burger subsequently invited Rex E. Lee (then Dean of the J. Reuben Clark School of Law at Brigham Young University and later United States Solicitor General) and Dallin Oaks (then president of Brigham Young University and later Justice of the Utah Supreme Court) to test the idea.
At the suggestion of Rex Lee, a pilot program was entrusted to Senior United States District Court Judge A. Sherman Christensen, who honed the idea into a feasible concept. The first American Inn of Court was founded in 1980 in the Provo/Salt Lake City area of Utah, and included law students from Brigham Young University. Within the next three years, additional American Inns formed in Utah, Mississippi, Hawaii, New York, and Washington, D. C.
In 1983, Chief Justice Burger created a committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States to explore whether the American Inn concept was of value to the administration of justice and, if so, whether there should be a national organization to promote, establish and assist American Inns, and promote the goals of legal excellence, civility, professionalism and ethics on a national level. The committee reported to the Judicial Conference affirmatively on the two questions and proposed the creation of the American Inns of Court Foundation. The Judicial Conference approved the reports and, thus, endorsed the American Inn concept and the formation of a national structure. In 1985, the American Inns of Court Foundation was formally organized.
The Mission of the American Inns of Court is to foster excellence in professionalism, ethics, civility, and legal skills for judges, lawyers, academicians, and students of the law in order to perfect the quality, availability and efficiency of justice in the United States.
- To promote, establish and charter American Inns of Court throughout the United States.
- To help ensure the vitality and continuity of local Inns.
- To facilitate the exchange of ideas, experiences and ongoing education among members of the American Inns of Court, thereby maintaining an institutional forum where judges, lawyers, academicians and students of law, working together, pursue the highest goals of the legal profession.
- To shape a culture of excellence in American jurisprudence by promoting a commitment to professionalism, ethics, civility and legal skills in the practice of law, and transmitting these values from one generation of lawyers to the next.
- To ensure the viability and long-term stability of the American Inns of Court Foundation.
Whereas, the Rule of Law is essential to preserving and protecting the rights and liberties of a free people; and Whereas, throughout history, lawyers and judges have preserved, protected and defended the Rule of Law in order to ensure justice for all; and Whereas, preservation and promulgation of the highest standards of excellence in professionalism, ethics, civility, and legal skills are essential to achieving justice under the Rule of Law; Now therefore, as a member of an American Inn of Court, I hereby adopt this professional creed with a pledge to honor its principles and practices:
- I will treat the practice of law as a learned profession and will uphold the standards of the profession with dignity, civility and courtesy.
- I will value my integrity above all. My word is my bond.
- I will develop my practice with dignity and will be mindful in my communications with the public that what is constitutionally permissible may not be professionally appropriate.
- I will serve as an officer of the court, encouraging respect for the law in all that I do and avoiding abuse or misuse of the law, its procedures, its participants and its processes.
- I will represent the interests of my client with vigor and will seek the most expeditious and least costly solutions to problems, resolving disputes through negotiation whenever possible.
- I will work continuously to attain the highest level of knowledge and skill in the areas of the law in which I practice.
- I will contribute time and resources to public service, charitable activities and pro bona work.
- I will work to make the legal system more accessible, responsive and effective.
- I will honor the requirements, the spirit and the intent of the applicable rules or codes of professional conduct for my jurisdiction, and will encourage others to do the same.