Congratulations E. Robert Williams Inn

I am a proud member of two Inns of Court. At least I feel like I am. I have been a member of the Pensacola American Inn of court for about ten years. I have been honored to serve in several capacities, including two years as President. It is an affirming and rewarding experience. I was also told years ago that I am (was?) an "honorary" member of the E. Robert Williams Inn in Jacksonville. That was when that Inn was formed back in 2007. I do not pay dues, have attended only one meeting, and am not an active member, if in fact I am still "honorary." If I am still considered a member, I am proud of that. Regardless of whether I am a member, I am proud of them.

With that disclosure of my relationship with the Williams Inn, I write today to praise the Inn and its leadership. The Inn was named for E. Robert Williams. In my early days of practice, I found myself litigating against Mr. Williams. We had some dispute regarding whether his client or mine was the employer of a very colorful injured worker. I have vivid recollections, decades later, of the injured worker's deposition. Mr. Williams took the lead. After all, I had weeks of legal experience at the time. I recall his demeanor and calm. I recall after that deposition, he took a few minutes to mentor me. I had many opportunities after that to see him as a mediator, but I do not recall ever litigating against him again. When the Inn formed in Jacksonville, and I heard they had named it for him, my reaction was fairly typical, "of course you named it after Bob;" if you knew Bob, that just makes sense.

I have been privileged to watch the E. Robert Williams Inn form, develop and excel. It has been successful because of the excellent lawyers from both sides of the table who have participated. Certainly, each officer of the Inn deserves credit for where they are as an Inn today. Excellence does not occur overnight, and it is rarely the product of any one person. Excellence in an organization comes from teamwork, focus, and dedication.

The Inn founders included Judge William Dane, Craig Gibbs, Judge Ivy Cream Harris, Allison Hauser (treasurer), Ralph Humphries (membership chair), Theodore Johns, Michael O’Rourke, Michael D. Rudolph, Benford Samuels, Jr., (counselor), Jacob Schickel, (president), and Richard Stoudemire (program chair). 

The Inn was founded to foster excellence for legal professionals in northeast Florida, particularly for new practioners and law students seeking mentorship with Judges, experienced lawyers, legal educators and community leaders. The Inn received its charter in 2008 from the American Inn of Courts in Arlington, VA, and is modeled after the British Inn of Court system. The Inn was the recipient of the Gold Achieving Excellence Award in 2011-2012. That is a proud achievement.

This year, the Inn will be presented with the Platinum Achieving Excellence Award for 2012-2013. This is indeed an achievement. With this award, the E. Robert Williams Inn of Court joins a small but elite group of Inns in the entire country to receive such designation. Only a very small percentage of Inns reach this level of organizational and programmatic recognition.

Their leadership is to be congratulated. In 2012-13, the President was Alan Gordon (State mediator), the President-Elect was Judge Ray Holley, Treasurer was Tara L. Sa’id, Secretary was Michael D. Rudolph, Administrator was Vanessa M. Herbert, Program Chair was John J. Rahaim II, ProgramVice-Chair was Heather Byrer Carbone, Membership Co-Chairs were Allison Hunnicutt Hauser, and Michael J. O’Rourke, the Achieving Excellence Chair was E. Robert Williams (son of the Inn’s namesake), and the CLE Chair was E. Clayton Harland II. The Law School Liaison was John J. Schickel, and the Chaplain was Michael C. Crumpler. A strong leadership group.

Notably, the Inn’s past-presidents are John J. Schickel, Benford L. Samuels, Jr., Allison Hunnicutt Hauser, and Michael C. Crumpler. It is gratifying to see those past-Presidents continuing to serve. A recurring secret of success I see here, and in the Workers’ Compensation Section of The Florida Bar, is a continuation of service by past leaders.

Congratulations to the Inn for their success and contribution to the legal community. Congratulations on the recognition of Platinum status by the American Inns of Court. Great job and a pat on the back to all involved. Not because that is why they participate and lead the Inn, it is not; but because they contribute, to the contrary, with no expectation or even desire that anyone ever give them a pat on the back. This attention will be met with their characteristic humility. But the achievement is notable, the Inn is a positive force for professionalism and mentoring, and the recognition is well-deserved.

Great job! Congratulations E. Robert Williams Inn!

Best of luck in the future and another great year!

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