About the Rhone Brackett Inn of Court

Named after two pioneering Colorado attorneys, Robert C. Rhone (1927–1963) and Ava M. Brackett (1954–1992), the Rhone – Brackett Inn of Court meets monthly during the fall and winter at The University Club of Denver. Each monthly meeting features a presentation by one of our pupilage groups. Our invited membership is made up of judges, attorneys and law students who are dedicated to professionalism and collegiality. The Inn is a member in good standing of the American Inns of Court.

General Information on American Inns 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, lawyers, and in some cases, law professors and law students. Each Inn meets approximately once a month both to “break bread” and to hold programs and discussions on matters of ethics, skills and professionalism.

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 25,000 state, federal and administrative law judges, attorneys, legal scholars and law students. Membership is composed of the following categories: Masters of the Bench—judges, experienced lawyers, and law professors; Barristers—lawyers with some experience who do not meet the minimum requirements for Masters; Associates—lawyers who do not meet the minimum requirement for Barristers; and Pupils—law students. The suggested number of active members in an Inn is around 80.

Most Inns concentrate on issues surrounding civil and criminal litigation practice, and include attorneys from a number of specialties. However, there are several Inns that specialize in criminal practice, federal litigation, tax law, administrative law, white-collar crime, bankruptcy, intellectual property, family law, or employment and labor law.

The membership is divided into “pupillage teams,” with each team consisting of a few members from each membership category. Each pupillage team conducts one program for the Inn each year. Pupillage team members get together informally outside of monthly Inn meetings in groups of two or more. This allows the less-experienced attorneys to become more effective advocates and counselors by learning from the more-experienced attorneys and judges. In addition, each less-experienced member is assigned to a more-experienced attorney or judge who acts as a mentor and encourages conversations about the practice of law.

The Mission of the American Inns of Court is to foster excellence in professionalism, ethics, civility, and legal skills.

Goals of the American Inns of Court

I. To promote the American Inns of Court mission by encouraging members of the legal profession to participate in an American Inn of Court.

II. To help ensure the vitality and continuity of local Inns.

III. To communicate a culture of excellence in professionalism, ethics, civility and skills to the legal community and generally.

IV. To ensure the long-term financial viability and growth of the American Inns of Court.

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 J. 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 (pictured at right), 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.

American Inns of Court Website

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