Retired Tennessee Supreme Court Justice and Nashville School of Law Dean William C. Koch, Jr. has been elected President of the Board of Trustees of the American Inns of Court, succeeding Chief Judge Carl Stewart of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Koch served on the national Board from 2000 to 2008, and again from 2014 to today, including terms as Secretary and Vice President. He has long been committed to the American Inns of Court movement, helping found the Harry Phillips American Inn of Court in Nashville in 1990, where he serves as President and Master of the Bench. He also helped found six other Inns in Tennessee, including the Belmont University College of Law American Inn of Court, where he is an emeritus Master of the Bench
Other newly elected officers of the national organization are: Vice President – Judge Kent A. Jordan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; Secretary – Chief Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas; and, Treasurer – Stephanie J. Zane, Esq., with the firm Archer, Haddonfield, N.J. Anthony B. Haller, Esq., Blank Rome LLP, Philadelphia, Pa. and Judge Barbara Savitt Pearson, Lowell District Court, Mass., also were elected to the executive committee.
The American Inn of Court is a national organization whose membership includes a wide cross section of the legal community, including federal and state judges, lawyers, law professors, and law students. Since the founding of the first Inn in 1980, it has grown faster than any other organization of legal professionals. Currently, there are nearly 400 local Inns in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Tokyo with approximately 32,000 members. Many of the Inns are associated with law schools.
“What differentiates the Inns of Court from most other legal organizations is their ability to create an intimate environment in which judges and lawyers can pass down, discuss, refine, and even create ethical and professional standards for their local legal communities,” Koch said.
Through regular meetings, Inn members are able to build and strengthen professional relationships; discuss fundamental concerns about professionalism and pressing legal issues of the day; share experiences and advice; exhort the utmost passion and dedication for the law; provide mentoring opportunities; and advance the highest levels of integrity, ethics, and civility in the practice of law.
“You can’t simply hand somebody a book or article and say, ‘Here, read about how to be a professional.’ The American Inns of Court promote professionalism because their members model professional behavior,” Koch said. “The local Inns are able to accomplish their mission by keeping their membership small enough to enable their members to become acquainted with each other on a more personal and less formal basis.”
In 2014, following his retirement from the Tennessee Supreme Court, Koch was named President and Dean of Nashville School of Law, where he has taught courses in United States Constitutional Law and Tennessee Constitutional Law for the past 21 years. He also has received adjunct appointments at Vanderbilt Law School and Belmont University College of Law.
Koch served on the Tennessee Court of Appeals for 23 years and was presiding judge of the Middle Section when he was named to the state’s Supreme Court. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Koch graduated with a B.A. degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, received his J.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Law and earned his LL.M from the University of Virginia School of Law. He was on the Tennessee Attorney General’s staff and left his position as Deputy Attorney General to join Gov. Lamar Alexander’s Cabinet as Commissioner of Personnel and later as Counsel to the Governor.
He is chair of the Tennessee Trial Court Vacancy Commission and chaired the Tennessee Supreme Court Indigent Representation Task Force from 2015-2017. He has been chairman of and currently serves on the Boards of the United Way and of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. He is on the Board of Directors of the Nashville Bar Association and the Nashville Conflict Resolution Center and is a Trustee of Cumberland University.