Judge Kent A. Jordan
On this, my first opportunity to communicate with you in these pages, I’m both humble and grateful. The humility is a natural consequence of following in the footsteps of the great leaders this organization has had, most recently Dean Bill Koch. I’ve been lucky enough to know each of the past presidents of our organization, and I am in awe of their labors to fulfill the mission of the American Inns of Court. They have done so much, and with such wisdom, inspiration, and success. They had the good fortune, as I now do, to work with the dedicated chapter relations directors and others at the national office of the American Inns of Court Foundation, all of whom are led by our superb executive director, General Malinda Dunn. Working with great people like these and the American Inns of Court Board of Trustees is a genuinely humbling experience.
But if you were to speak to those individuals, I believe that, to a person, they would say the most important successes of the American Inns of Court are produced locally, in the pupillage groups and Inns around the country, where members teach, mentor, and encourage one another in our mutual ambition to strengthen the legal profession. In considering those efforts, I feel a strong swell of gratitude. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Inns of Court movement, and there is much to celebrate. There will be more to say about this, but for now let’s gratefully note that in 1980, with a gentle nudge from Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, a handful of lawyers and judges met in Provo, Utah, to launch the first American Inn of Court.
Today, there are 370 chartered Inns, organized in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Tokyo, serving some 30,000 members. Through regular training programs, awards, and scholarships, we work together to further the mission envisioned by our early leaders: the inculcation of legal excellence, civility, ethics, and professionalism in every member of every Inn of Court. In all, over 135,000 attorneys and judges are alumni of the Inns, all of whom, one hopes, have benefitted from the experience. Not bad for 40 years.
Gratitude comes naturally too, as I consider the ways that Inn members have worked together to make life and legal practice a bit better in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a sampling of some of the creative and kind things that your fellow Inn members have been doing around the country:
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dale Larrimore, Esquire, president of the Villanova Law J. Willard O’Brien American Inn of Court, has adopted the stage name “The Great Quarantini” and taken it upon himself to maintain connections within his Inn and to spread good cheer by doing magic tricks and posting them on YouTube. Check out “The Great Quarantini” YouTube channel and smile.
In Davis, California, the Milton L. Schwartz-David F. Levi American Inn of Court has used its newsletter to unify Inn members despite social distancing. Inn President Judge Daniel P. Maguire, of the Yolo County Superior Court, wrote, “While the virus may keep us apart physically, it brings us together in other ways, and it is reassuring to see the reemergence of a sense of common resolve.” Very true, and his Inn’s commitment to keeping its members connected despite the limitations imposed by a lockdown is a great example to follow.
In Coral Gables, Florida, Amber Kornreich, Esquire, president of the First Family Law American Inn of Court, worked with other Inn leaders to put on a virtual Inn meeting on Zoom that ended up drawing 100 attendees from family law Inns across the state. After the presentation, members stayed online to socialize at a virtual happy hour and open forum called “Practicing Family Law in the Age of Coronavirus.”
Similarly, the Richard Linn American Inn of Court in Chicago, Illinois, led by President Adam G. Kelly, Esquire, put on a Zoom mentoring panel, with inside and outside counsel, a professor, a student, and a judge discussing strategies to keep work flowing and to maintain a positive and professional outlook in times of great stress.
When the pandemic prevented the Central Kentucky American Inn of Court in Lexington, Kentucky, from holding its annual community outreach program, “Being 18 Matters,” which teaches several thousand high school students about legal rights and responsibilities, the Inn sprang into action. With leadership from project manager Lisa Hinkle, Esquire, and President Robert S. Ryan, Esquire, the Inn moved the project online, creating a website to host the material.
Many more examples could be given, but that’s enough for now. You get the picture. It’s no small thing to build and maintain a community, especially one with the high aims of the American Inns of Court. And it’s profoundly humbling and gratifying to be with you in the work.
American Inns of Court