A long-standing Sarasota legal tradition is observed each month when members of the Judge John M. Scheb American Inn of Court gather for dinner and conversation.

American Inn of Court history dates back to the late 1970s, when a group of judges, including then-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Warren E. Burger, discussed the need for a national organization that would promote legal excellency, civility, professionalism and ethics. Since then, the popularity of Inns has exploded: Now there are nearly 400 Inns in 48 states, D.C., Guam and Tokyo, with more than 30,000 active members.

Sarasota’s Inn was formed in 1991 and has become a cornerstone in the local legal community. It was recently named to the national organization’s list of the country’s top Inns, achieving Platinum status, placing the Sarasota branch among the top 62 in the nation.

Kirk Pinkerton, PA attorney Matt Whyte was chosen this year to be a Master with the local Inn, the culmination of a long process that began when he was in law school at Stetson University. Over the years, he has worked his way up, from Student to Associate to Barrister and now Master.

The Inn of Court allows attorneys from varied backgrounds and practice areas to get together in a social environment to discuss issues facing the legal community as a whole. Attorneys provide presentations on their specialties, too, educating their peers on best practices and other legal issues they may not be familiar with.

“Attending Inn of Court dinners has benefited me so much over the years,” Whyte says. “Lawyers typically don’t have much time to meet and talk in such a low-pressure, social atmosphere, and I’ve had the opportunity to have some amazing discussions with legendary attorneys and judges.”

With such a diverse group of legal professionals, the Inn of Court also plays a major role in fostering intergenerational discussion and helps established attorneys pass along traditions of courtesy and ethics.

“When I was a new lawyer, interacting with attorneys and judges from previous generations taught me so much about how to act professionally, how to treat my fellow lawyers and clients with respect,” Whyte says. It’s a tradition Whyte is eager to pass along now that he himself is a senior member of the group. “I try everyday to do things the right way, and I’m eager to share what I learned with lawyers who are just launching their careers.”

The Judge John M. Scheb American Inn of Court meets monthly during the fall, winter and spring. For more information about the group, click here. For more information about Kirk Pinkerton, PA, visit kirkpinkerton.com or call 941-364-2400. To contact Matt Whyte, email him at mwhyte@kirkpinkerton.com.