Potter Stewart American Inn of Court


Nearly 30 years ago, the American Inns of Court was founded to help lawyers and judges rise to higher levels of excellence, professionalism, and ethical awareness. 

Modeled after the traditional English version of legal apprenticeship, but modified to fit the particular needs of the American legal system, the Inns of Court were developed out of a discussion in the late 1970s among the United States’ members of the Anglo-American exchange of lawyers and judges, including Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, J. Clifford Wallace.   Each Inn includes several categories of members:

  • Masters of the Bench (judges, lawyers, and law professors who have demonstrated superior character, ability, and competence as advocates – typically with 15 or more years of experience);
  • Barristers (younger and/or less experienced lawyers); and
  • Pupils (third-year law students).    

The membership is further subdivided into “pupilage groups,” each of which is composed of several members from each membership category, and is responsible for conducting one program for the Inn each year.  Pupilage groups convene outside of the monthly Inn meetings to prepare their presentations.

Here in Cincinnati, more than 100 attorneys and judges participate in the Potter Stewart American Inn of Court – named for former U.S.  Supreme Court Justice and Queen City native Potter Stewart – each season.

The Potter Stewart Inn meets once a month from September to May (except December) to “break bread” and hold programs and discussions on matter of ethics, litigation skills and professionalism.  The program helps lawyers become more effective advocates and counselors, with a keener ethical awareness.  Members learn side-by-side with the most experienced judges and attorneys in the community.  The program includes a joint session with the Salmon P. Chase (Northern Kentucky) Inn each season, and culminates with final banquet in May, where the Andrew Dennison Courageous Advocate Award is presented to an attorney who “upholds the professional obligation to represent the poor, the unpopular or the friendless.”

The Cincinnati Bar Association provides administrative support to the Inn.  For more information on the Potter Stewart Inn, please contact us here.