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Order of the Coif
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2012 Order of the Coif Induction Information

The Order of the Coif Induction Ceremony and breakfast takes place Friday, May 4th at 7:30am in the Law School Lobby. Inductees will be invited the week of commencement. Family and friends are welcome. You and two guests can come for free, each additional guest is $15. Also, there is a one-time initiation fee of $25. Checks may be made payable to USC Educational Foundation. The initiation fee and additional guest information can be given to Megan Seiner or Tootie Hooks.

Please see Megan Seiner or contact her via email with any questions.

Thanks and congratulations!


History of the Order of the Coif

The American Order of the Coif takes its name from the English Order of the Coif which was the most ancient, and one of the most honored, institutions of the common law. Dating back to the time of the Norman Conquest, the Order was an association of lawyers from whose members the judges of the Court of Common Pleas were appointed, and who for centuries had the sole right to appear as barristers in that court. Later, the judges of the King's Bench and the Exchequer were also appointed from among the serjeants of the Coif.

Membership in the English Order of the Coif was maintained by a system of apprenticeship. The calling of these new members to the Order was attended with much pomp and ceremony. Newly-elected members were summoned from the halls of their respective inns by a chapel bell and learned addresses were delivered in their honor and purses of gold given to each new member.

At the onset of membership in the Order, members were required to wear a close-fitting hood of white silk called a cap or coif. By the ancient privilege of the Serjeants of the Coif, the Coif was not to be taken off except when passing sentence of death, when it was replaced by the black sentence cap. When wigs came into fashion, however, the Coif was no longer worn as a hood, but merely as a circular piece of silk fastened to the top of the wig. Today, a similar piece of cloth, the Coif, may be worn on top of the caps as part of the official regalia in academic convocations.

The Order remained influential throughout the 19th century regardless of the passage of statutes broadening the scope of those who were eligible for appointment as judges and practitioners. In 1873, however, the death blow to the Order was struck with the enactment of the Judicature Act of 1873, which provided that the degree of Serjeant-at-law was not a requirement for service as a judge. The English Order of the Coif held its last meeting on April 27, 1877.

In 1912, the American Order of the Coif was founded through the merging of the Theta Kappa Nu legal fraternity of the University of Illinois and an organization known as Coif founded at Northwestern. The basic purpose of this Order was to encourage and recognize exceptional scholarship in the study of law in American law schools.

Since its birth, the American Order of the Coif has been accepting new chapters, one of which is our chapter at the University of South Carolina. Accepted for membership on April 29, 1982, our Chapter pledges to uphold the same standards of scholastic achievement and service as its forerunners.