Have you ever wished you could have dinner with senior members of the bar to discuss important and timely legal issues that affect the practice of law in New Hampshire and beyond? Are you looking for a mentor to offer practical and professional advice? Need a convenient, enjoyable way to earn CLE credits? Do you want to meet members of the judiciary in an informal, collegial setting? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should join the American Inns of Court.
What are the American Inns of Court? The American Inns of Court are modeled on the traditional English model of legal apprenticeship. The Inns are designed to improve the skills, professionalism and ethics of the bench and bar. The Inns consist of an amalgam of judges, lawyers, and in some cases, law professors and law students. The Webster-Batchelder Inns of Court is the local Inn for Hillsborough and Merrimack Counties. There are others Inns in the northern part of the state and on the seacoast.
Each Inn meets approximately once a month for dinner and to hold programs and discussions on matters of ethics, skills and professionalism. The Inns 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 communities.
Membership is composed of four 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 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 sit with each other during the monthly meetings and work on their team program outside of monthly Inn meetings. This allows the less-experienced attorneys to become more effective advocates and counselors by learning from the more-experienced attorneys and judges.
Most Inns concentrate on issues surrounding civil and criminal litigation practice, and include attorneys from a number of specialties. The programs each month are designed to teach members about different practice areas, history of the practice, ethical considerations, or recent changes or notable events in the law.
For example, the programs presented during last year’s Webster-Batchelder Inns included informational lectures on the restructuring of the ADR system, the new state court rules, recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the medical malpractice screening panels, and the current status of immigration law. Members were also treated to lively theatrical presentations regarding collegiality and how to represent your client effectively without being a "jerk," and a presentation of "A Conversation with John Marshall."
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 Inn partakes of some of each of these concepts, it is quite different in aim, scope, and effect.
Since its founding, the Webster-Batchelder Inns of Court has prided itself on its ability to bring together judges and attorneys of varying degrees of experience in a social, yet educational atmosphere. While attendees receive CLE credit for the educational hour of monthly meetings, the greatest benefit members receive is learning from each other as ideas are exchanged, theories or arguments are tested, and friendships are made.
The monthly meetings consist of a cocktail time to network with fellow members, one hour of presentations for CLE credit, followed by dinner with the members of your table. The Inns provide an informal and comfortable setting in which to meet your fellow attorneys and enable newer attorneys to network and learn from their more experienced counterparts. This is an invaluable experience, especially for solos or lawyers from small firms.
The Webster-Batchelder Inns is currently looking for new members. All are welcome, but the President, Scott Harris, on behalf of the Inns, would like to extend a specific invitation to those newer lawyers who have gone out on their own or are in small firms.
The yearly fee includes the membership dues and the dinner fees. The Webster-Batchelder Inns offers four scholarships each year, one each to a member of the county attorney’s office, attorney general’s office, public defender’s office, and the Franklin Pierce law school. If any attorney is interested but concerned about the fees, he/she is urged to contact the President and arrangements can be made.
For more information or to sign up, please contact the Webster-Batchelder membership committee: Mark Attorri at 603-606-5006 or