Mark Englehart, a shareholder in the Toxic Torts Section, recently was elected president of the Hugh Maddox Inn of the American Inns of Court for 2008-09. Evolving out of discussions spurred by then-U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger in the late 1970s, and formally organized in 1985, the American Inns of Court adopted the traditional English model of legal apprenticeship and modified it to fit the particular needs of the American legal system. The mission of the American Inns of Court is “to foster excellence in professionalism, ethics, civility, and legal skills.” With more than 25,000 judges and lawyers actively participating in an Inn of Court, and an additional 50,000 who are alumni of an Inn, the American Inns of Court is one of the fastest-growing legal organizations in the country. Each local Inn meets once a month both to fellowship and to hold programs and discussions on matters of ethics, skills, and professionalism.
The Hugh Maddox Inn of Court, the local Inn in Montgomery, Alabama, is named after one of its founding members, now-retired Alabama Supreme Court Justice Hugh Maddox. Not incidentally, Justice Maddox, the third-longest tenured member in the history of the Alabama Supreme Court (with 31 years service, having been elected five times) and the author of 1,650 majority opinions, will receive this month the prestigious A. Sherman Christenson award. The award, one of the American Inns’ three top national honors, is bestowed upon a member of an American Inn of Court “who has provided distinguished, exceptional, and significant leadership to the American Inns of Court movement” – a description that fits Justice Maddox “to a T.”
Justice Maddox co-founded the Inn now bearing his name in 1989. The Hugh Maddox Inn counts among its over 100 active and alumni members numerous federal and state judges, at both trial and appellate levels; lawyers of varying experience levels, from one to 40 years in the profession; lawyers from divergent types of practice – attorneys in private practice (from solo practitioners to large firm lawyers), criminal defense lawyers, civil lawyers from both sides of the bar, state and federal prosecutors, and lawyers from a variety of other government practice backgrounds; and lawyers of varied ages, race, gender, and ethnicity.
The Inn seeks to help lawyers to become more effective advocates and counselors with a keener sense of ethical awareness, and to foster civility among widely-diverse segments of the bar that might not otherwise meet and interact. Younger members learn side-by-side with, and are mentored by, some of the most experienced judges and lawyers in the local bar. Six lawyers from our firm presently belong to the Hugh Maddox Inn, including Mark, who has been a member for about 12 years. All have counted it a valuable experience. We are honored to have Mark selected to head this fine organization. I am sure he will do an outstanding job!