Firm draws the 'Inn' crowd

Issue April 2015

Attorney David R. Kerrigan, a partner at the Boston boutique litigation firm of Kenney & Sams PC, is co-president, along with Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman, of the Boston Inn of Court - one of only a handful of American Inns in Massachusetts modeled after the English Inns of Court.

Kerrigan explained that American Inns took root in the United States in the late 1970s to early 1980s under then-U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, who saw the Inns as a way to improve civility and ethics in the legal profession. The Boston Inn of Court was awarded the 100th charter in 1990. Today there are more than 30,000 active members in nearly 400 chartered Inns of Court in the United States, according to the American Inns of Court Foundation.

"The Inns are made up of groups of lawyers, law students and judges, who meet regularly and present programs that try to foster professionalism and ethics in the legal profession," Kerrigan said.

In leading the Boston Inn of Court, Kerrigan is in some respects carrying on a firm tradition. He is the fourth attorney at Kenney & Sams PC to serve as co-president, joining firm co-founders Christopher A. Kenney (2001) and Michael P. Sams (2010), and former Sally & Fitch leader Francis J. Sally (2003), who is now of counsel to Kenney & Sams.

Kenney, who is vice president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, actually co-founded the Boston Inn of Court while at Boston University School of Law in 1989. He said that the Inn's commitment to excellence, civility, professionalism and ethics "are probably the common denominators that united us and brought us together at the firm."

As MBA members, both Kenney and Kerrigan see the Inn as a complement to their bar association activities.

Kenney explained that the Inn's pupilage-team model, which pairs seasoned "masters" with attorneys from other levels and law students, provides an "immersive experience" and a "fraternal, traditional component that promotes fellowship and mentoring." He said that fostering a sense of accountability and leadership as attorneys move through the ranks of the Inn is also one of the byproducts.

With modern technology making it possible for a lawyer to do almost anything from a computer, Kerrigan added that the Boston Inn of Court also helps counter the increasingly insular nature of the legal profession through its regular meetings and collaborative programs.

In the practice of law today "you can stay in the office all day and not talk to anyone," Kerrigan said. "With the Inn, it's like the old days when you would actually swap stories and you could build a sense of community."