Our Namesake

Q. Todd Dickinson is a former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  He was appointed to that post by President William Jefferson Clinton, and served from 1999 to 2001.

Mr. Dickinson graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1977.  In addition to his government service, Mr. Dickinson was the executive director of the American Intellectual Property Law Association from 2008 to 2014. He currently is in private practice at the firm Novak Druce Connolly Bove and Quigg LLP.

After extended consideration, this chapter of the American Inns of Court chose Mr. Dickinson as its namesake because he exemplifies Pittsburgh's historical connection with innovation and intellectual property law.


History of the American Inns of Court

American Inns are patterned after the English Inns of Court. The first English Inn of Court was established in 1292 by King Edward I to provide housing for his barristers while they were trying cases in London. The English Inns grew in number and importance during the Middle Ages. The English Inns emphasized the value of learning the craft of lawyering from those already established in the profession. Their collegial environment fostered common goals and nurtured professional ideals and ethics.

In 1977, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and other American lawyers and judges spent two weeks in England as part of the Anglo-American Exchange. The Chief Justice was particularly impressed with the collegial mentoring approach and, following his return to the United States, authorized a pilot program that could be adapted to the realities of law practice in the States.

Chief Justice Burger, former Solicitor General Rex Lee, and Senior United States District Judge A. Sherman Christensen founded the first American Inn of Court in 1980. The Inn was affiliated with the J. Reuben Clark School of Law at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. In 1985, the American Inns of Court Foundation was established, with 12 Inns, based on a recommendation of the Judicial Conference of the United States. Since then, the AIC movement has grown faster than  any other organization of legal professionals. Today there are 320 American Inns of Court in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Over 25,000 state, federal and administrative law judges, attorneys, law professors, and third-year law students are active members of an American Inn of Court, and over 50,000 are AIC alumni.

The American Inns of Court have adopted the traditional English model of legal apprenticeship. Through the mentoring process, the Inns are designed to improve the skills, professionalism and legal ethics of the bench and bar. The Inns help newer lawyers to become more effective advocates, with a keener awareness of ethics and civility.