The American Inns of Court: Reclaiming a Noble Profession

In August 1979, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger met with his administrative assistant Mark Cannon at a Utah summer cabin for a rest stop to visit with Dallin H. Oaks, then president of Brigham Young University and Rex E. Lee, dean of the BYU law school. Out of that auspicious encounter emerged a nationwide program called the American Inns of Court. The Chief Justice had long campaigned to improve the professionalism and civility of lawyers practicing in the courts of the United States. Today, less than twenty years later, over three hundred law schools in the United States sponsor a chapter of the American Inns of Court to inculcate in future litagators high qualities of ethical skills in legal advocacy.

BYU law school was the first school to embrace the concept. Thanks to Judge Sherman Christensen, Clifford Wallace and many others, the charter unit of the program was inaugurated in Provo in 1980. Pixton’s book tells the story of that founding of the American Inns of Court, which prepared the way for the programs proliferation throughout the nation. Thoroughly documented with numerous memos, letters, and recollections, this interesting institutional history, produced at BYU, shows how this national organization received its constitutional undergirdings from the work of its charter unit.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 38:1
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