Dean Emeritus Robert Walsh honored by English Inns of Court

Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law Robert Walsh has just been elected an Honorary Academic Bencher of the Honorable Society of Inner Temple. The Inner Temple is one of the four Inns of Court in London which educate barristers and then call members to the Bar entitling them to practice. The other Inns are Middle Temple, Gray’s Inn, and Lincoln’s Inn. Every barrister in England and Wales must belong to one of the Inns, which continue supervisory and disciplinary function over their members throughout their careers.

The Inns of Court have existed since the fourteenth century. Inner Temple has more than 8,000 members divided into three grades of membership: Pupils, Barristers, and Masters of the Bench, or as they are commonly called, “Benchers.” Benchers are senior respected judges and practicing barristers of high achievement in the profession and constitute the governing body for each Inn. There are 200 governing Benchers of Inner Temple.

Dean Walsh was elected by the governing body as an Honorary Bencher of the Inner Temple as an Academic Bencher. Over time prominent Benchers of Inner Temple have included: Sir Edward Coke, Sir Francis Drake, James Boswell, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharial Nehru (the first Prime Minister of India), and former British Prime Minister Clement Attlee. A prominent current Bencher who supported Dean Walsh’s election is Lord Harry Woolf, former Chief Justice of England and Wales, who has twice visited Wake Forest.

The Inner Temple does not make many Honorary Benchers outside of the United Kingdom. Ordinarily, there is only one honorary Bencher per country. Justice Antonin Scalia of the United States Supreme Court is already a Bencher of Inner Temple so Dean Walsh is only the second Inner Temple Bencher in the United States. Dean Walsh is the first and only Academic Bencher outside of the United Kingdom.

Dean Walsh has interacted with the Inner Temple both in his capacity as a lawyer and as an academic since 1988 and most recently in his two year term as current President of the American Inns of Court where he is the first Non-Judge President in more than 20 years.