The American Inns of Court Foundation


The American Inns of Court Foundation is a non-profit, tax exempt organization. It was created in May 1985 by and for the individual American Inns of Court. By becoming an active member of a local American Inn of Court, individuals automatically become members of the American Inns of Court Foundation. The objectives of the Foundation include: to charter Inns nationwide; to serve and foster communication among Inns; and to encourage membership in American Inns of Court. Our Inn pays annual dues to the Foundation.

The Foundation carries a national general liability policy and umbrella policy for bodily injury and property damage that covers all chartered Inns throughout the country. In addition, each Inn may be blanketed under the Foundation’s IRS 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, thereby eliminating the need to file an annual tax return as long as its average annual gross receipts do not exceed $25,000.

The Foundation also provides benefits to individual Inn members. These benefits include: (1) a subscription to The Bencher, a bimonthly newsletter providing information on American Inns of Court events at a regional and national level, as well as local events involving other Inns, and columns and articles dealing with timely issues of legal ethics; (2) a listing in the National Membership Directory published each year with the assistance of the WestGroup; and (3) a reciprocal visitation agreement with the four English Inns of Court which enables individual Inn members to visit and dine in the English Inns. American Inns of Court members are required to obtain a letter of introduction from the Foundation before visiting one of the English Inns.

Periodically, the Foundation hosts a national conference that is traditionally held in May and is rotated among cities throughout the country. In addition to the annual conference, the Foundation holds annual regional workshops that focus on the real nuts and bolts of running an effective Inn. In October of each year, the Foundation hosts an annual leadership dinner at the United States Supreme Court for the purpose of honoring local, regional, and national leaders and to present the A. Sherman Christensen Award, the Lewis F. Powell Award for Professionalism and Ethics, and the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Professional Service.

The Foundation may be contacted at:

American Inns of Court Foundation
225 Reinekers Lane, Suite 770
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Telephone: (703) 684-3590
Fax: (703) 684-3607

Web site:


  1. To promote, establish and charter American Inns of Court throughout the United States.
  2. To help ensure the vitality and continuity of local Inns.
  3. To facilitate the exchange of ideas, experiences and ongoing education among members of the American Inns of Court, thereby maintaining an institutional forum where judges, lawyers, academicians and students of law, working together, pursue the highest goals of the legal profession.
  4. To shape a culture of excellence in American jurisprudence by promoting a commitment to professionalism, ethics, civility and legal skills in the practice of law, and transmitting these values from one generation of lawyers to the next.
  5. To ensure the viability and long-term stability of the American Inns of Court Foundation.

The Inns Web Site


All the information found in this handbook can also be found at the Inn’s web site — The web site also contains downloadable copies of the program attendance sheet that must be completed to obtain CLE credit and the suggested form for the Program Report Form that must be submitted to the Foundation, as well as links to other sites of interest to Inn members.

The American Inns of Court Foundation’s website can be found at

Local Contact


If you wish to be excused from an Inn meeting or if you desire other information concerning the Harry Phillips AIC or the American Inns of Court Foundation, please contact:

Hon. Anne C. Martin
Davidson County Chancery Court
1 Public Square, Suite 406
Nashville, Tennessee 37201

Telephone: 615-862-5700



The eight programs offered during the year are at the heart of the Inn’s monthly meetings. They focus on practical legal skills with an emphasis on ethics, civility, and professionalism in lawyering. They generally involve a demonstration or presentation of principles, skills, techniques, and relationships involved in trial and appellate court proceedings or alternative dispute resolution proceedings and in activities preliminary to courtroom appearances. These programs also incorporate opportunities for critique and discussion.

Each team presenting a program must:

  • Select a program format that will present the assigned topic in an interesting and informative manner.
  • Prepare written materials that satisfy the requirements of Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 21, §§ 4.03 & 5.01(e). These materials are either posted on the Inn’s website or are handed out at the meeting.
  • Prepare an American Inns of Court Program Report Form to be included in the Foundation’s national Programming Manual. A copy of the form for this report can be found here. This task is the responsibility of the team’s reporter.

The Inn will also underwrite the meal costs for persons who are not Inn members but who have been invited by a team to be part of a program. With prior approval, the Inn will provide up to $100 to each team to help defray the costs of its program.

Harry Phillips American Inn of Court

The Harry Phillips AIC was founded in 1990 in Nashville. It was the 120th American Inn of Court in the United States. The charter application included the names of John P. Branham, Chancellor C. Allen High, Judge William C. Koch, Jr., Dean Joe C. Loser, Jr., Charles H. Warfield, and Judge Thomas A. Wiseman, Jr. From 1990 to 2023, over 400 lawyers, judges, law professors, and law students living and working in Middle Tennessee have been members of the Harry Phillips AIC.

American Inns of Court are permitted to have a specialized focus, and the original focus of the Harry Phillips AIC was on civil litigation. In recent years, the executive committee has expanded the Inn’s focus to include litigation trial techniques, professionalism and ethics issues, and other substantive legal topics.

As one of its first official acts, the Inn adopted the name Harry Phillips American Inn of Court in honor of the late Judge Harry Phillips, Chief Judge Emeritus of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Judge Phillips was born in 1909 in Watertown, Tennessee. After obtaining his Bachelor’s and law degrees at Cumberland University, he was admitted to the practice of law in 1933. He served in the Tennessee House of Representatives for four years and as an assistant state attorney general from 1937-1950.
He practiced law in Nashville with Louis Farrell, Jr., B.B. Gullett, and former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Weldon White until President John F. Kennedy, at Senator Albert Gore’s urging, nominated him to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Judge Phillips joined the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in July 1963. He served as chief judge from 1969 until 1979 when he took senior status. During his judicial career, Judge Phillips wrote over 500 majority opinions and numerous law review articles. He also wrote several books including a history of the Phillips family, “The History of the Sixth Circuit,” and the third and fourth editions of Pritchard on Wills and Estates.

Judge Phillips had many other professional accomplishments, but above all these, he was known as a person of humanity and humility. Judge George Edwards, Judge Phillips’ successor as chief judge, summed up these qualities best in 1981 at the formal presentation of Judge Phillips’ portrait when he said:

His industry and perseverance are well known among his friends and associates. No one works harder to achieve what he believes in. His legal scholarship is acknowledged far and near. His loyalty to the institutions in which he believes is legendary. This is not a blind loyalty, but one born of a deep understanding of the fundamental precepts of these institutions – his church, his family, this Nation and this Court. His humanity translates an abiding belief that we all are God’s children into a deep concern for the welfare of every person who touches his life. His courage enables him to take unpopular positions without hesitation when he furthers the cause of equal justice by doing so. All of these traits are undergirded by absolute integrity and a sense of fair play which is reflected in his life as well as his judicial decisions.

Judge Phillips died in England in 1985 from injuries received when he was struck while crossing a busy London street. In 1986, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit named its Nashville satellite library after Judge Phillips in recognition of his lifelong commitment to legal scholarship. Four years later, Nashville’s first American Inn of Court named itself after Judge Phillips, recognizing that he epitomized the qualities of competence, collegiality, and commitment to justice that are at the heart of the Inn’s mission.

Annual Dues


The annual dues for Masters are $575, dues for Barristers are $500, and dues for Associate members are $425. The Student members pay no dues. The funds provided by the dues defray the Inn’s operating expenses, including the cost of the members’ meals at the monthly Inn meetings, the dues to the American Inns of Court Foundation, and the CLE fees charged by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization. Partial or full scholarships based on financial need may be available upon request.

The American Inns of Court Foundation has received a 501(c)(3) designation from the Internal Revenue Service, and the Harry Phillips AIC benefits from this designation as an affiliate of the Foundation. Members may deduct their dues either as a business expense or as a charitable contribution. Members electing to deduct their Inn dues as a charitable contribution must reduce the amount of their contribution by $280, the value of the meals.



The Inn’s active members are divided into eight teams. The program committee selects the teams and makes sure that each team includes Masters, Barristers, Associates, and one Student who would not otherwise encounter each other frequently in their daily work. Team assignments may be changed for good cause. Members desiring to change teams must do so as early as possible. They must also find a member of another team that has not yet presented a program who is willing to take their place and must inform the president of their reason for changing teams and the name of their replacement.

The teams are encouraged to meet monthly, or more often if necessary, to prepare their program and to promote camaraderie among the team members. The teams choose their own meeting places and times, but are expected to notify their team liaison when their meetings are scheduled.

Each team is led by two co-captains. The co-captains are responsible for convening the team, for assuring that the team members attend the Inn’s meetings and activities, and for promoting contacts among team members between Inn meetings. The co-captains also supervise the preparation of the team’s program and are responsible for all other team activities. One member of the team is designated as the team’s reporter. The responsibilities of the reporter include (1) assuring that the team’s handout materials are prepared and submitted for posting on the Inn’s website prior to the meeting and (2) preparing the Program Submission Form and assembling the related materials for submission to the American Inns of Court.

One of the members of the program committee serves as the liaison to each team. The liaison attends the team’s meetings and is available to assist the team in organizing, and presenting its program.

Each team must prepare and present one of the Inn’s eight programs. In addition to presenting a program, the teams provide Inn members an opportunity to become better acquainted with other lawyers practicing in Middle Tennessee. The teams are the principle component of the Inn’s mentoring activities. Their diverse membership is intended to build an inter-generational relationship that encourages frank and personal discussion of matters of practice, ethics, civility, and all other aspects of the practice of law. The most experienced members of the team are encouraged to pass on the best of the practice to the less experienced members. Accordingly, Masters are encouraged to provide their Associate and Student colleagues with opportunities to observe them in court, in deposition, or in the office.

Best Program Awards


The American Inns of Court promote innovative and creative program development by presenting annual awards for the ten most outstanding programs offered by local Inns, as well as special recognition for the best researched program, the most creative program, and the best special project. All programs submitted to the national office of the American Inns of Court are automatically considered for its recognition.

Our Inn has received national recognition for three programs. Our November 1995 program entitled “I’ve Got a Secret – Confidentiality and Secrecy” received a fifth place award in 1996, our April 1999 program called “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics” received a ninth place award in 2000, and our February 2015 program “Magna Carta: The Palladium of English and American Liberties” received second place in the Magna Carta program contest.

In addition to pursuing national recognition for outstanding programming, our Inn will sponsor its own best program competition. Following our last meeting in May 2024, all members will be given an opportunity to vote for the best program materials and the best program of the year. The members of the team presenting the best program of the year will not only be recognized for their efforts, but they and their spouses or significant others will also receive a congratulatory dinner.



The program year begins in August with an introductory dinner. Thereafter, the Inn holds eight meetings on the third Tuesday of every month. All meetings are held at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville. Each meeting begins with a cocktail reception with a cash bar from 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Dinner follows the reception, and then one of the Inn’s eight teams presents a ninety-minute program dealing with a practical aspect of the practice of law. Meetings end at 8:30 p.m.

Continuing Legal Education Credit


The Inn has been certified as a CLE provider by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization. Members may earn as many as 13.5 hours of CLE credit, including 3 hours of ethics and professionalism credit, by attending seven and participating in one of the Inn’s programs. The number of credits available for participating in the presentation of a program depends upon the written materials’ compliance with Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 21, § 4.03.

Members and guests desiring to obtain CLE credit must sign an attendance form at the conclusion of each program. The members’ CLE fees are included in their dues.