Our History


The Oldest & Most Prestigious Legal Honor Society in North America – Founded 1869

Phi Delta Phi began with the chartering of Kent Inn at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on December 13, 1869.

Our history reminds us that it was a “cold and blustery” day in Ann Arbor, Michigan on December 13, 1869 when law students met in a downstairs room in the Gregory House first formally associated as Phi Delta Phis. There were no electric lights by which to read law books, there were no automobiles and there were no phones. In fact, all of the conveniences of life today did not exist.

What did exist, however, was the need for ethical associations in our profession. Phi Delta Phis took the lead in meeting that need by founding the first professional society and legal organization devoted solely to the promotion of legal ethics. The dedication and devotion to those  principles continue today amongst all of Phi Delta Phi.

Notable Phi Delta Phi

The total initiated membership of Phi Delta Phi exceeds 200,000 persons. More judges, American presidents, governors, senators, representatives, cabinet members, ambassadors, American Bar Association presidents, Association of American Law School presidents and law school Deans have come from the ranks of Phi Delta Phi than from any other legal society.


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Our History

Understand our past.

American presidents, Supreme Court justices and prominent members of the bar and bench who have been initiated into Phi Delta Phi include:

Howard H. Baker, Jr.
James A. Baker, III
Birch E. Bayh
Hugo Black
Robert H. Bork
William J. Brennan
Ellen Burns
Benjamin N. Cardozo
Pamela Carter
Archibald Cox
Gerald R. Ford
Joyce Hens Green
Charles Evans Hughes
Daniel K. Inouye
Henry M. Jackson
Thomas Penfield Jackson
Leon Jaworski
Anthony M. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
Patrick Leahy
Karl Llewellyn
Thurgood Marshall
William McKinley
Gerald T. McLaughlin
Edwin Meese, III

Walter Mondale
Malcolm W. Monroe
Sandra Day O’Connor
R. Thomas Olson
Samuel Pierce,Jr.
Lewis F. Powell, Jr.
William L. Prosser
James Danforth “Dan” Quayle
Sam Rayburn
William H. Rehnquist
Stephen R. Reinhardt
Owen J. Roberts
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Antonin Scalia
Myra C. Selby
William French Smith
Kenneth W. Starr
John Paul Stevens
Adlai Stevenson
Potter Stewart
William H. Taft
Earl Warren
Byron R. White
Wendell Willkie

Prominent members of the bench, bar and political community from Canada, include:

Rosalie Abella
John Aird
Lincoln Alexander
Louise Arbour
W. Ian Binnie
Archie Campbell
Jules Deschenes
Alan B. Gold
Peter Hogg
Paul S. A. Lamek
Claire L’Heureux-Dubé

Lauren Marshall
Roland Martland
Beverley McLachlin
R. Roy McMurtry
Daniel R. Michner
John W. Morden
William D. Parker
Robert J. Pirie
Bob Rae
James B. Southey
John Napier Turner

Prominent members of the bench, bar and political community from Mexico, include:

Luisa de Padilla
Fernando Elizondo
Francisco Garcia Jimeno
José Gomez Gordoa
Francisco José Castillo L. Genera
Margarita Beatriz Luna Ramos
David Gongora Pimentel

Arturo Salinas-Martinez
Luis Santos
Rodrigo Sánchez Mejorada Velasco
Pedro Zorilla
Ana Margarita Ríos Farjat
Alberto G. Pérez Dayán

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