Formation of the Prettyman-Leventhal Inn

In 1987, Judge Michel Levant of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission called Chief Judge B. Paul Cotter, Jr. of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to enthusiastically describe a briefing he'd seen on the American Inns of Court movement. Judge Cotter decided to form an Inn concentrating on Administrative Law, and he and Judge Levant then recruited Washington lawyers Gerald Charnoff (managing partner of Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge), Eldon Crowell (founding partner of Crowell and Moring), Sally Katzen (partner in Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering and then Chair of the Administrative Law Section of the American Bar Association), sole practitioner John T. Miller (a past Chair of the ABA Administrative Law Section), and Professor Daniel Kane of George Washington University. The concept of the American Inns of Court held such strong universal appeal that a five minute telephone conversation was all that was needed to secure commitments to this new concept.

The Inn's Charter was presented by Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to Judge Cotter at the Annual Meeting of the American Inns of Court on June 10, 1988 in Washington D.C. Prettyman Leventhal became the 57th Inn chartered, only the second specialty Inn ever formed, and the first ever dealing solely with Administrative Law.

The 18 original Masters of the Bench first met in the Ceremonial Courtroom of the Federal Circuit on June 27, 1988. Judge Thomas P. Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, a member of the Charles Fahy Inn, delivered the keynote address. The Masters then elected the Inn's first officers and Executive Committee: President: Judge Cotter; Counselor: Mr. Miller; Secretary-Treasurer: Professor Kane; Executive Committee:Messrs. Charnoff and Crowell, Ms. Katzen, and Judge Levant. Judge Jean S. Cooper (HUD Board of Contract Appeals) chaired the Administration Committee, Judge John Kern (D.C. Court of Appeals) chaired the Membership Committee, and Edward J. Grenier, Jr. (a partner in Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan) chaired the Program Committee.

Thereafter, Ms. Katzen recruited Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia as an Honorary Member and Judge Ruth Ginsburg of the D.C. Circuit as an active member. Judge Steven Williams of the D.C. Circuit joined with Judge Ginsburg. Judge Cotter recruited then D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Patricia Wald as an Honorary Member and Judge Pauline Newman of the Federal Circuit as an active member. All of them attended and actively participated in every meeting that first year, and Justice Scalia spoke at the yearend Annual Dinner Dance held at the National Press Club, a venue arranged by Master Betty Murphy, a partner in Baker & Hostetler. At that dinner Judge Cotter presented plaques to members of the families of Judges Prettyman and Leventhal in recognition and thanks for their seminal influence in Administrative Law. Judge Prettyman's son, E. Barrett Prettyman, a partner in Hogan and Hartson and noted U.S. Supreme Court advocate, became a member of the Inn.

The First Decade

The following year Chief Judge Wald was the Annual Dinner speaker. Justice Scalia has spoken on subsequent occasions. Then D.C. Circuit Judge Clarence Thomas was an active member briefly, and the inn's membership has included William Allen of Covington and Burling, District Court Judge Thomas Hogan, and National Labor Relations Board Chief Administrative Law Judge David Davidson. A grant from Carroll Gilliam (a partner in Grove, Jaskiewicz, Gilliam and Cobert), enabled Prettyman Leventhal to offer scholarships to third year law school students who otherwise might not be able to afford to accept an invitation to join the inn. For the first two years the inn drew all its student members from George Washington University. Thereafter, pupils were accepted from American, Catholic, Georgetown, George Mason, Howard and the University of the District of Columbia Law Schools.

The schedule and content of meetings held that first year set the pattern used by the Inn today. Subjects addressed included "Ex Parte Contacts With Agencies and Congress," "Managing the Complex Case," "Appellate Presentation of an Administrative Case," "Discovery Abuses and Sanctions: Judicial Limitations," "Examining (Elusive) Experts," and "Litigation Technology: Use and Procedural Evidentiary Problems." Then, as now, the monthly symposium and dinner were held at historic Tayloe House on Lafayette Square before adjourning to Courtroom 3 of the Federal Circuit for the evening's program.

Contributions to the American Inn of Court Movement

Prettyman Leventhal Inn members have played a larger role in the American Inns of Court movement, contributing to its mission to support and create new inns. Judge Cotter, elected a trustee in 1990, created the blueprint for both the annual fund raising effort of the American Inns of Court Foundation and the current Board of Trustee's structure (almost doubling the number of trustees to 30 and adding regional and appointed public trustees). He created and chaired the first Metropolitan D.C. Council of Inns and chaired the Foundation's International Programs Committee.

Judge Jean Cooper Chaired two Annual Meetings of the American Inns of Court, was also elected to the Board of Trustees, and was solely responsible for the appointment of the first international member of the American Inns of Court Foundation, former Prime Minister of England, Margaret Thatcher.

Finally Master Nancy Skancke has chaired the D.C. Metropolitan Council of the American Inns of Court for several years to the great benefit of the District of Columbia's 14 inns.


Prettyman Leventhal has won several awards, including the first annual fund raising award for raising the most money of any inn in the country in 1992. At least three Prettyman Leventhal educational programs have won national awards and have been included in the American Inns of Court Programming Manual for use by other Inns. Only two other inns have had so many award winning programs published.