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by Deirdre M. Kelly
Civility matters. “The practice of law is a noble, time-honored profession requiring and inspiring trust and confidence . . . Lawyers practicing in Orange County share a commitment to civility and recognize their obligation to be professional with clients, other parties and counsel, the courts, and the public.” OCBA’s Civility Guidelines.
The American Inns of Court, formed in the late 1970s, is an organization which promotes civility, professionalism, and mentorship in the profession. Modeled loosely, and enjoying a fraternal relationship with the centuries-old judicial Inns in the United Kingdom, a group of distinguished jurists, attorneys, and legal educators, including then-Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, formed the American Inns of Court.
Orange County has four Inns of Court, each named for a prominent local attorney and jurist. Monthly meetings generally include at least one hour of MCLE credit for dinner programs covering a wide spectrum of legal issues. Traditionally, all of these Inns of Court have enjoyed a joint meeting in December.
Below is a description of each of the four Inns:
Robert A. Banyard Inn of Court is named in honor of Judge Robert Banyard who began his legal career as a JAG officer in 1943, despite the fact that he was not a lawyer. He then self-studied law and passed the California Bar Exam in 1946. He was president of the Orange County Bar in 1966 and was appointed to the bench in 1969. Following his death in 1986, this Inn was formed.
The Inn has approximately 100 members consisting of lawyers from a wide range of practice areas and judicial officers. The overarching mission of the Inn is to emphasize civility and professionalism in the practice of law.
The Inn’s monthly programs are a mixture of outside and Inn member speakers. The end-of-season program is a rousing game of “legal jeopardy.”
The Banyard Inn also pairs new members with one or two mentors, ideally a judge and a Master Bencher (law professors and lawyers with fifteen or more years of experience).
Individuals interested in joining this Inn may download an application at http://banyardinn.org.
William P. Gray Legion Lex Inn of Court has more than 100 members. Judge James P. Gray (ret.), who served as president for the first seven years, is the son of the prominent, federal judge, William P. Gray, for whom the Gray Inn of Court is named, explains the Inn.
First, each evening dinner begins with a cocktail hour, at which time all in attendance are intended to “talk shop,” to the degree that our senior members are requested to seek out our younger members and ask them what they are working on. Second, we have a monthly breakfast, which frequently includes two or three judges and more senior attorneys. And third, we let it be known that all of our members are encouraged to telephone any other member if they have a particular ethical or legal issue for which they need advice.
Those interested in joining the Inn may contact membership chair, Judy Segerstrom Barrett, at email@example.com.
Peter M. Elliott Inn of Court is a smaller, welcoming Inn where younger members are encouraged to interact with more seasoned attorneys and members of the bench.
Members of the Inn are placed in “teams” composed of judges, seasoned attorneys, new attorneys and law students, with a senior attorney or judge as the team leader. Each team presents a program at the monthly meetings, each providing MCLE, held at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club.
Started in 1990, the initial intent of the founders of the Elliott Inn of Court was to have it focused on bankruptcy law, as its namesake was a venerated bankruptcy attorney and, later, a judge. But today, this Inn enjoys a very diverse membership, including experts in legal ethics.
For information on becoming a member of this Inn, contact Tricia Moreash at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Howard T. Markey Inn of Court, focusing on intellectual property issues, is named for a federal circuit court judge who was instrumental in forming the American Inns of Court in the 1980s, according to David Stein, President of the Markey Inn.
Founding member Joe Re had clerked for Judge Markey in the 1980s and was “shocked” to hear that Markey’s name was not already taken and was available for the new Inn of Court. Re and his partner Sheila Swaroop enlisted the leadership of U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford to head the new Markey Inn. Judge Guilford brought in one of his former law clerks, Christina von der Ahe Rayburn, and soon enough, they were celebrating the birth of the Howard T. Markey Inn of Court installing Judge Guilford as then president.
Today, the Markey Inn membership is over sixty members toward a target of no more than eighty. The Markey Inn hosts a range of programs, ranging from current issues in IP law to mock arguments and trials. Similar to some other Inns, the Markey Inn forms small pupilage groups, with a blend of junior and senior lawyers, who rotate the presentations. Anyone interested in joining this Inn may contact director of membership Jenna Kelleher at email@example.com.
In a world that is seemingly becoming less civil, bar associations like OCBA and the Inns of Court are doing their part to change this trend. We support and applaud the efforts of our local Inns and encourage our members to join one today!
Deirdre Kelly is the 2019 OCBA President. She can be reached at DeirdreKelly@ocbar.org.