What is an American Inn of Court?
American Inns of Court (AIC) are designed to improve the skills,
professionalism and ethics of the bench and bar. An American Inn of
Court is an amalgam of judges and lawyers. Each Inn meets
approximately once a month, both to "break bread" and to hold
programs and discussions on matters of ethics, skills and
Looking for a new way to help lawyers and judges rise to higher
levels of excellence, professionalism and ethical awareness, the
American Inns of Court adopted the traditional English model of
legal apprenticeship and modified it to fit the particular needs of
the American legal system. American Inns of Court help lawyers to
become more effective advocates and counselors with a keener
ethical awareness. Members learn side by side with the most
experienced judges and attorneys in their community.
An American Inn of Court is not a fraternal order, a social
club, a course in continuing legal education, a lecture series, an
apprenticeship system, or an adjunct of a law school's program.
While an AIC partakes of some of each of these concepts, it is
quite different in aim, scope and effect.
American Inns of Court actively involve more than 20,000 state,
federal and administrative law judges and attorneys. Membership is
composed of the following categories: Masters of the Bench --
judges and experienced lawyers who participate in the Inn
indefinitely; Barristers -- lawyers with five or more years
experience who join the Inn for two years; and Associates -- less
experienced lawyers who join the Inn for one year.
The membership is divided into "teams", with each team
consisting of members from each membership category. Each team
conducts one program for the Inn each year. Team members get
together informally outside of monthly Inn meetings to allow the
less experienced attorneys to become more effective advocates and
counselors by learning from the more experienced attorneys and
History of the Louis M. Welsh Inn
The Welsh Inn was founded in San Diego in 1983 by Judge William
B. Enright, Judge Howard B. Turrentine, and attorneys William G.
Bailey and Robert G. Steiner. This Inn, named the Louis M. Welsh
Inn of the American Inns of Court, is the ninth Inn chartered in
the nation. The first year of operation for the Welsh Inn was from
the fall of 1984 through the spring of 1985.
Judge Enright served as President for many years and was
followed by Judge Rudi M. Brewster, Judge Marilyn L. Huff, Judge J.
Richard Haden, Judge Ronald L. Styn, Judge Janis L. Sammartino, and
current President, Judge Karen S. Crawford. The Inn has assisted in
the creation of three additional Inns in San Diego County and has
won national awards for program excellence.
Mission and Organization
The purpose of the Inn is to provide less experienced
practitioners with the opportunity for sustained interaction with
experienced attorneys and judges. This is accomplished through
monthly meetings at which the Barristers and Associates interact
with and receive instruction in procedure and trial practice from
the senior members of the Inn. A strong emphasis is placed on
professionalism, ethics and civility. The goal of the Inn is to
create a lasting, permanent mechanism to enable senior members of
the bar and bench to pass on to younger members of the bar the
higher standards and technical skills necessary to enhance the
practice of law by those in the trial community. Regular monthly
meetings of the Inn are supplemented by regular meetings of smaller
subgroups called teams.
The Inn is composed of Associates, attorneys with one to five
years of experience; Barristers, attorneys with five or more years
experience; and Masters of the Bench, attorneys and judges with
recognized experience and expertise as trial advocates. Associates
are invited to join the Inn for one year, Barristers for two years,
and Masters of the Bench for life. Every past member of the Inn is
placed on a roster of alumni and is invited to continue attending
programs after the conclusion of their term, on a first-come,
first-served basis. All alumni are invited to attend an annual
"homecoming" banquet typically held in January.
The Inn meets once monthly from September through June, from
5:30-7:30 PM, in downtown San Diego. The January meeting is the
Joint Inns Dinner which includes the alumni.