Conner W. Shepherd, President
Sarah E. E. Shepherd, Project Director/Partner

Circuit Rider – A Brief History

Circuit Riders hold an important place in the history of the American West. The term "Circuit Rider" was used to describe judges who rode on horseback through the wilderness from town to town to mete out justice and administer town affairs.

As with many of our legal traditions, we borrowed the practice from the English. As England emerged from the Dark Ages, the king gradually hit upon the solution of making the judges ride around the countryside or "ride circuit" each year to hear appeals, rather than force everyone to bring their appeals to London. Since most of the original thirteen colonies were largely settled by the English, it was natural that they would bring their idea of judicial circuits with them.

The U.S. Supreme Court justices still retain vestiges from the days of riding circuit. The Court's customary summer recess originated as the time during which the justices would leave Washington and ride circuit since dirt roads were more passable in the summer.

The term also referred to preachers who ministered to remote towns in much the same way. Because of the distance between churches, these ministers were called circuit riders or saddlebag preachers. They traveled with few possessions, carrying only what could fit in their saddlebags. They preached every day at any place available – peoples' cabins, courthouses, fields, meeting houses, and saloons. From this model, rural citizens had access to the services in their home communities rather than traveling great distances to the nearest judge or minister.

In the context of all of these examples, Circuit Riders are in some form and to some degree management consultants. They serve regional constituencies by travel from a central location. They provide consulting and assistance with problem solving as they make multiple visits to the organizations they serve. And, they provide advice and information by phone and e-mail. Circuit Riders can "cross-pollinate" the groups they serve, transmitting insights, tools, and tips they gain from one client to another as they travel throughout their circuit, saving them all time and money.

It is in that same spirit that I chose to name my company.


Conner W. Shepherd
Circuit Rider of Colorado, LLC