The NH Bar Association recognized 16 attorneys – those who have been members of the legal community for 50 years – as Honorary Members at this year’s annual meeting on June 20 in North Conway.
These members have witnessed significant social, technical and economic changes in the course of their lives and careers and have tailored and developed the legal profession in response to these changes. Bar News has profiled some of these members in past issues and will profile the remaining in upcoming issues.
H. Alfred Casassa
H. Alfred Casassa
H. Alfred Casassa, born in Maine and raised in Hampton, NH, has had a career that spans the majority of possible legal positions. He worked in the public sector as an IRS Estate Tax attorney, has had a private practice in Hampton since 1960 and he was a justice on the Hampton District Court from 1972 to 1980. His career has been long and satisfying.
"It is most rewarding, both professionally and personally, to have been able to return to my hometown and practice law and be involved in the community," Casassa said.
His dream of becoming a lawyer began with an interest in government and politics from his high schools days, when he admired the role that lawyers played in the community and the state.
Casassa graduated from Boston University School of Law and joined the NH Bar Association in 1958 and went to work for the IRS as an Estate Tax Attorney, where he worked for two years before opening his private practice in Hampton, now known as Casassa & Ryan.
"I plan on continuing in the practice of law at Casassa & Ryan here in Hampton for the foreseeable future," he said, "as long as I continue in good health."
Casassa lives in Hampton with his wife Clarice Murphy Casassa. They have three children and four grandchildren. His son, Robert A. Casassa is an attorney as well and practicing in the elder Casassa’s law firm.
Paul F. Donovan
"Reaching this milestone is a humbling experience, as many of my contemporaries are no longer with us," said Paul F. Donovan of his attaining 50 years as a member of the NH Bar.
Donovan, born in Cambridge, MA and raised in Braintree, MA, received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University before graduating from Columbia Law School, earning his law degree.
In 1958, after graduating from law school and joining the NH Bar, Donovan opened a private general practice in Lancaster, NH, where he worked until his retirement in 2004. In 1965, he was appointed a Special Justice to the Lancaster District Court and has served as the Jefferson Town Moderator for the past 20 years.
Donovan’s proudest achievement, he said, was his service on the Professional Conduct Committee and the Judges’ Association, which was once very active in administrative matters. He also said that his service on the bench had a large impact on him, especially his handling of juvenile cases.
"It was impressive– the impact that I could make on many lives over the years," he said. "Upon retiring, I received many letters and calls from juveniles who had appeared before me, thanking me for the assistance or guidance they had received."
Since his retirement in 2004, Donovan said he has been traveling extensively.
"Life is good," he said.
Henry T. Dunker
Newton, Massachusetts native Henry T. Dunker, upon reaching this milestone, said that he is "proud, privileged and blessed" to make it to the 50-year mark.
Henry T. Dunker
"I’m proud to have been a member of this excellent bar for these 50 years, privileged to have associated with its fine members and blessed to still be here," said Dunker. "Although almost all of my legal career has been spent in Massachusetts, keeping my membership in the NHBA has always been very important to me."
Dunker attended the Governor’s Academy in Byfield, Mass., Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
A veteran, he served with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division in Korea as a combat infantry officer. "The war has been called ‘the forgotten war.’ Forgotten or not, Marines that I knew or heard of possessed a high state of morale and…understood that they were performing a mission in Korea of vital importance."
His first job as an attorney was as a clerk to Judge Peter Woodbury of the US First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. He also served as a personal attorney to Norman Rockwell and as an associate at Orr & Reno in Concord.
"In the field of law [I looked up to] Judge Woodbury, Dud Orr, Bob Reno and Malcolm McLane," Dunker said.
Dunker also served as school committeeman in Stockbridge, Mass., was campaign manager of Frank H. Freedman’s successful mayoral campaign in Stockbridge, and served extensively in both elected and volunteer positions in the town of Weymouth.
Currently, Dunker spends his time with another love, writing. "I am a budding novelist, waiting and hoping to flower," he said.
Peter S. Espiefs
Born in Athens, Greece in 1931, Peter S. Espiefs moved with his family to the United States in 1932, settling in Dover, NH. Growing up during the Depression, Espiefs said he decided to become a lawyer after he became aware that "there were bad things happening to decent people who needed help to reclaim their lives."
Espiefs attended Dover public schools, the University of New Hampshire and graduated from the Georgetown Law Center, after which, he joined the NH Bar and got a job with the Division of Disability Operations of the Social Security Administration.
"My first job…gave me an excellent education on disability," he said.
Espiefs started his own office in 1964 and practiced there until he was appointed to the Cheshire County Probate Court in 1979. He continued as a probate court judge until his retirement from the court in 1999.
"I’m grateful for the privilege of having practiced law in my home state," said Espiefs, who retired from law practice June 1, 2008. "[I have practiced] among some of the most capable and professional lawyers in New England."
Espiefs has been a member of the New Hampshire House since 2000, where he has served on both the Judiciary and the Ways and Means Committees. He is also a member of the Right to Know Oversight Commission and the Medical Malpractice and Insurance Oversight Committee.
His wife Electra, he says, "has survived being married to me since 1955 and we have two dear children, Catherine and Peter."
Lucille Kozlowski, the 29th female attorney in the state of New Hampshire, was on a trip with a friend to Seabrook Beach when she decided that she’d pursue an education in the law.
"My friend and I wanted to leave our small town and talked about going into the foreign service," she said. "But before we entered the service, we needed a college education."
Shortly after this, Kozlowski enrolled in the Northeastern University evening division to earn pre-legal credits, working days as a secretary in the law office of Leonard Velishka. After three years, when Northeastern closed its law program, she moved to Boston College’s new School of Law where she traveled to school with classmates Arthur Gormley and Senator Warren Rudman, both residents of Nashua at the time.
After finishing law school and passing the bar, Kozlowski began working as an attorney with Leonard Velishka. "He made me a partner right away," she said. "He was a great man."
Lucille Kozlowski was very active in the Nashua Bar Association early in her career, serving as secretary/treasurer from 1958 to 1978. She fondly remembers the camaraderie among the members of the association, citing a time when the passing of an attorney motivated the entire association to donate money to the man’s wife and children.
"It was the best bar in the state," she said. "Everyone always supported each other and it was great."
Today, Kozlowski remains in practice but is slowly working on the transition into retirement. She plans to spend the rest of her summer enjoying her backyard and pool.
W. Jean Laflamme
W. Jean Laflamme
"It is truly a blessing to have reached this milestone," said W. Jean Laflamme of his attainment of 50 years in the practice of law. "I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked at something I was able to enjoy all these years and to feel that I have assisted many people in the process."
Laflamme, born and raised in Manchester, continued to practice in that city, where he first started his career as an attorney. He attended a Manchester Catholic school for both his elementary and secondary educations and then attended Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA before graduating from Boston University Law School in Boston.
While his undergraduate training was in accounting, Laflamme decided that perhaps he could be of more help to people by practicing law. In 1958, he practiced law in Manchester with his father until he died in 1960. In 1963, Laflamme joined forces with Maurice P. Bois and formed Bois and Laflamme until Bois was appointed to the Superior Court in 1973.
His practice began with general interests but, he says, was gradually limited to estate planning, probate and trust administration.
He says he is quite proud of community activities that he has been involved in over the years. They include a stint as president of the Manchester Jaycees, serving on the boards of directors for NH Easter Seals and the Manchester Institute of Arts and Sciences and in numerous activities with his church.
Laflamme lives in Manchester with his wife Lucille. They have three children: Lise, David and Nicole.
Alvin H. Miller
Becoming a lawyer, said Alvin H. Miller, was not a boyhood dream attained; rather he said, "I had to become a lawyer so I could sit at the table and protect my brokerage fee."
Miller, a native of Lewiston, Maine, attended the Maine Maritime Academy, Bowdoin College and, after a stint as a Boston mortgage broker, Boston College Law School.
"I would attend real estate closings and interrupt the proceedings when I disagreed with what the closing attorneys were saying or doing and was forcefully told to sit in the corner and be quiet," said Miller. "I then concluded that I had to become a lawyer."
Miller, during the Korean War, served two years in the Mediterranean as a communications officer aboard a Navy destroyer.
In his day, Miller said, he normally acted as a solo practitioner, but occasionally worked with two or three other attorneys that worked for him. Miller spent his time as an attorney in residential real estate matters, particularly, he said, with the lending aspects.
"If anyone who reads this would like to buy some ‘select’ sub-prime mortgages," he joked. "I have some for sale."
Humor aside, Miller said that he was proud of his work. He mentioned several cases which stuck out in his mind as those that he was particularly proud of. These include representing a church in a bond issue, a bank in a long-term joint venture involving a high-rise building and a different bank as a consultant during a conflict with the F.D.I.C.
Miller, father of two children – both successful, he said, in their lives and careers – has four grandchildren and lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife.
David Nixon: Fondly Looking Back While Moving Forward
David Nixon’s Manchester law office overflows with memorabilia of his myriad involvements in civic, community, veteran’s, political and legal organizations.
David L. Nixon, of the Nixon, Raiche, Vogelman, Barry & Slawsky firm in Manchester, says reaching his 50-year milestone of legal practice does not mean it is time to hang it up. "I still enjoy the practice of law, and working hard," he replied in a questionnaire submitted to those members of the Bar who reached the honorary NHBA member status this year.
In fact, he’s getting even busier, having recently filed to run for the NH House of Representatives, after having been active in the Legislature for six years in the mid-1970s, including service in the State Senate as chair of the judiciary committee and one year as State Senate president.
"I plan to continue to work hard to bring New Hampshire’s legal and judicial systems back to where they were in the days of the late and beloved Chief Justice Frank R. Kenison, the finest jurist (as well as fly fisherman) I’ve had the honor to know and learn from," Nixon wrote. "I strongly believe the legal system should be ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’"
Nixon also was a past gubernatorial candidate and a delegate to two Constitutional Conventions.
An NHBA past president (1980-81) and secretary-treasurer of the Bar before it was unified, Nixon continues to be actively involved in the Bar, particularly as a volunteer attorney for the DOVE Project. He was also recently appointed by Gov. Lynch as chair of the Executive Branch Ethics Committee, and serves on a number of other community and professional boards and associations.
Attorney Nixon also is a special source of knowledge about the NH Bar Association and its members, and he enjoys telling anecdotes about his mentors and luminaries of the NH Bench and Bar from the time of his admission in 1958 through the present.
A Massachusetts native, Nixon attended the University of Michigan Law School after serving in the US Army. "I thought that lawyers had (and still think they have) a unique opportunity to improve the lives of those around them," he says of his motivation to become a lawyer.
Readers are encouraged to read Nixon’s survey responses in their entirety as they feature anecdotes and interesting details and personalities in the practice of law in NH. Find his answers here (PDF).
David E. Tardif
David E. Tardif
"I’m thankful that I can still carry on my practice within limits," said David E. Tardif of his 50 years in the legal community.
Born and raised in Concord, Tardif attended the University of New Hampshire, graduating in 1953, when he joined the Army. After three years in the Army, Tardif attended Boston College Law School in 1958.
"I was a solo practitioner from 1958 to 1965," he said. "And in 1965 I entered into partnership with John W. Stanley, Jr."
Tardif spent the next 5 years working with Stanley and in 1970 helped start the firm Tardif, Shapiro and Cassidy, where he worked until 2005. In 2005 he moved back into solo practice and still works two days a week on estates, deeds and trusts.
"I became a lawyer because I wanted to be independent and become active in community affairs," he said.
He did both things, serving 12 years on the Concord Board of Alderman and City Council and 15 years as a trustee of the Timothy and Abigail B. Walker Lecture Fund.
Tardif is still working two days a week and travels regularly, returning recently from a tour of Spain and Portugal. He also recently toured Poland and hopes to continue his travels around the world.
Hon. Sherman D. Horton
Sherman D. Horton
"I wish it was five years in rather than 50," said former NH Supreme Court Associate Justice Sherman D. Horton of reaching his 50-year honorary member status, "but I’m thankful that I made it this far."
Judge Horton, born in Kansas City and raised in Minneapolis, didn’t originally plan to be a lawyer. Rather, he’d planned on going into banking. But, after graduating from Dartmouth College, he joined the Navy and decided that he’d better make use of the three years of education offered to him by Uncle Sam.
In the Navy from 1953 to 1955, Judge Horton was stationed first off the coast of Korea during the end of the Korean War. "The Chinese heard I joined up and decided that they’d better call a truce," he joked of his service. "I loved the Navy. There were good people and good times and two years of service paid for law school."
After his Navy deployment he returned to the states to pursue a law degree at Harvard Law School. "I figured a law degree would be useful in a lot of different ways and Harvard was a good school."
When he graduated, Horton took a position in Nashua with the Sullivan & Gregg law firm. "I spent my entire career as an attorney, 40 years, at Sullivan & Gregg. I really enjoyed private practice. When you represent people you have a defined task and a target that you’re trying to reach. It was exciting."
In 1990, Horton, upon the nomination of then Gov. Judd Gregg, a former partner of Sullivan & Gregg, joined the NH Supreme Court. "I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it," he said. "It’s so different; deciding on whether something is right is a lot different from arguing a point-of-view as an attorney. It ended up being very rewarding and a good way to phase into retirement, since they kick you out at 70."
Since retiring, Judge Horton has traveled extensively, visiting much of Europe, Central America and Asia. He said that given the right trip, he may go abroad again, but for now, he is enjoying his peace and quiet by the lake where he lives.
Justice Phillip Howorth to the Defense
H. Phillip Howorth
After 19 years as a justice of the Nashua District Court, Judge H. Phillip Howorth reluctantly retired in 2003 at the mandatory age of 70. He’s back in court these days – as an attorney in the immigration court in Boston.
In a Bar News interview at the time of his retirement, he lamented that he did not want to retire from a job he continued to find challenging and rewarding, and that the constructional retirement requirement hadn’t been modified to conform to the reality of healthy, active 70-year-olds. "There are lots of judges over 70 who could continue to be useful. To deprive the system of their learning and experience is a mistake," he said.
After a couple of years, Judge Howorth eventually became actively involved in the law practice started by his wife, Anne Marie (admitted to the NHBA in 1960), and his daughter, 2003 admittee Joanna Howorth, in immigration/criminal defense.
Judge Howorth says he is focusing on bail hearings for detained immigrants in the immigration court in Boston. The more complex area of representing immigrants in the later stages of the process, change of status proceedings, is beyond his expertise.
It is a totally different legal environment, and not just because he’s in federal court, Howorth says. "Sometimes I feel like Rip Van Winkle, coming back to practice after 19 years," he says. But he is proud of the difficult work that his family’s firm is doing.
Judge Howorth’s tenure in the Nashua District Court, particularly his interest in juvenile matters, did not go unrecognized. Nashua District Court’s juvenile courtroom was named in his honor.
During his last day on the bench, Nashua attorney Kent Barker, of Barker & Goldsmith, speaking on behalf of a group of area attorneys, thanked Judge Howorth for his service. He praised Howorth as a judge who always listened and paid attention, no matter what the case. "You never turned your mind off," Barker said.
A graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy, Haverford College and Harvard Law School, Howorth was in private practice in Massachusetts and New Hampshire before being named Nashua’s assessor in 1972 and city solicitor and corporation counsel in 1973. He was appointed associate justice of Nashua District Court in 1984.
Howorth has a son, Paul, and two daughters, Joanna and Claire; his daughters are both members of the NH and Mass. Bars.
The Legacies of William Johnson
Getting sworn-in as a member of the New Hampshire Bar on the morning of Sept. 3, 1958 was pretty special for William R. Johnson, who later went on to become an Associate Justice of the NH Supreme Court. But his special day wasn’t over.
William R. Johnson
The brand-new lawyer returned to appear before the Supreme Court that afternoon, arguing a case on behalf of Dartmouth College, as an associate for the Lebanon law firm of Cotton, Tesreau & Stebbins. "Haven’t I seen you somewhere else today?" asked Chief Justice Frank Rowe Kenison.
Justice Johnson, who retired from the Supreme Court in 1999 after 14 years on the appellate court and 16 years on the superior court bench, today lives in Hanover with Nancy, his wife of 54 years.
He recently returned to Concord for the conference room dedication ceremony in honor of US Supreme Court Associate Justice David H. Souter, with whom Johnson served on both the superior court and the NH Supreme Court.
From the start, Johnson’s career included participation in politics and government. He joined the law firm of Norris Cotton, who later was elected a US Senator. Johnson himself entered politics in 1963 when he was elected to the NH House of Representatives, and then the NH State Senate, where he was elected Majority Leader. He worked on the successful gubernatorial campaign of Walter Peterson and then became the governor’s legal counsel.
Johnson, in an interview with Bar News upon his retirement, said that he felt he made an impact in both his legislative and judicial careers. "You can do more for the people of the state in politics than as a judge," he said. "You can create something good for the community."
In that same interview, he also said: "It’s a nice feeling to know that 50 years from now people are going to cite something I’ve written. You feel like you have left some legacy."
In addition, Johnson is proud of his personal legacy. He cites his two daughters: Catherine, who lives in Hanover and owns a clothing store; and Susan, a successful golf coach and now assistant athletic director at Tulane University.