One of the several professional organizations that I am a member of is the J. Willard O’Brien American Inn of Court (AIC). This organization is a chartered member of the American Inns of Court which is the oldest and largest legal mentoring organization in the country. AlC’s mission is to promote professionalism, civility, ethics, and legal skills among members of the bench and bar. It has adopted the English Inns of Court tradition of legal apprenticeship by encouraging less experienced attorneys to learn from more seasoned attorneys and judges in a collegial atmosphere.
Membership of the Inn is limited to 110. The membership comes from every aspect of legal practice (judges, prosecutors, personal injury and product liability lawyers for the plaintiff and the defense, complex litigation specialists, criminal defense lawyers, in-house counsel and academics.) The membership is divided into Masters who have 15 years of experience or more, Barristers with 7 years or more experience, Associates with less than 7 years of experience, and Pupils who are third year law students. The principles of the organization are best embodied in the American Inns of Court Professional Creed which I will repeat verbatim here:
Whereas, the Rule of Law is essential to preserving and protecting the rights of liberties of a free people; and
Whereas, throughout history, lawyers and judges have preserved, protected and defended the Rule of Law in order to ensure justice for all; and
Whereas, preservation and promulgation of the highest standards of excellence in professionalism, ethics, civility, and legal skills are essential to achieving justice under the Rule of Law;
Now therefore, as a member of an American Inn of Court, I hereby adopt this professional creed with a pledge to honor its principles and practices:
- I will treat the practice of law as a learned profession and will uphold the standards of the profession with dignity, civility and courtesy.
- I will value my integrity above all. My word is my bond.
- I will develop my practice with dignity and will be mindful in my communications with the public that what is constitutionally permissible may not be professionally appropriate.
- I will serve as an officer of the court, encouraging respect for the law in all that I do and avoiding abuse or misuse of the law, its procedures, its participants and its processes.
- I will represent the interests of my client with vigor and will seek the most expeditious and least costly solutions to problems, resolving disputes through negotiation whenever possible.
- I will work continuously to attain the highest level of knowledge and skill in the areas of the law in which I practice.
- I will contribute time and resources to public service, charitable activities and pro bono work.
- I will work to make the legal system more accessible, responsive and effective.
- I will honor the requirements, the spirit and the intent of the applicable rules or codes ofprofessional conduct for my jurisdiction, and will encourage others to do the same.
My membership in this organization has enabled me to advance the cause of my firm’s clientele because it has helped me to make relationships outside the courtroom context with both judges and defense counsel, an invaluable asset in successfully litigating cases in the Philadelphia legal community.