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Bar Journal - December 1, 2003

Public Service as a Member Service

By:
 

This issue of Bar Journal focuses on the work of the Association and its members in one of the most crucial areas of the organization's efforts - the Quest for Justice.

Befitting the Bar's Constitutional purpose clause, which concludes "...to the end that the public responsibility of the legal profession may be more effectively discharged" (NHBA Constitution, Article 1), and the operating mission of the Association:

  • To serve the members by connecting them with services, programs and resources necessary to function effectively as members of the profession
  • To serve the public by connecting members with the information and opportunities needed to carry out their public service obligations
  • To serve the justice system by speaking and acting as the unified voice of the profession to facilitate promotion and improvement of the procedures and institutions of the law
  • To serve the profession by upholding the unique and valuable role of lawyers as independent counselors and advocates helping to preserve a civilized society governed by rule of law

- NHBA Board of Governors - March 2000

... the New Hampshire Bar Association has a long and proud history of advancing the Quest for Justice - on a local, statewide, and national level. Featured in this issue is the history of your Bar's nationally recognized Pro Bono Program, which has been leveraging volunteer lawyer time for 25 years to make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of our state's citizens.

Members can also be proud of the role their fellow members have played in supporting access to justice on the national stage. In the mid-1980s, when officials in Washington were hindering the effectiveness of legal aid programs with funding cuts and restrictions on activities, the New Hampshire Bar president at the time, L. Jonathan Ross, along with former NHBA executive director, Gail Kinney, helped organize a grass-roots national coalition, Bar Leaders for the Preservation of Legal Services for the Poor, that spread information and marshaled support of local, city, and state Bars to advocate for equal access to justice. (No mean feat in the pre-Internet, pre-email era!) Jon continues to be a national leader on these issues, serving on the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, and as chair of the National Caucus of State Bar Associations. He recently completed a three-year term as chair of the ABA's Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense.

This Bar Journal also contains an updated "Member Resources Guide," one of the ways the Association tries to keep you informed about some of the services offered through membership. Bar members are inundated with information on a daily basis, so retaining information about Association services isn't an expected priority. But member service is the reason the organization exists, and the wealth of resources available bears repeating. Keep this guide, or refer to it under the "For Members" tab of www.nhbar.org.

While at first glance it may seem incongruous, if not impossible, for a member service organization to expend significant effort on behalf of service to the public and the justice system, take another look at the Bar's operating mission. Our services to the public and the justice system are carried out in service to the members of New Hampshire's legal profession. The Bar Association connects members with public service opportunities, marshals precious member volunteer time to the highest areas of need, and provides support as members carry out volunteer service-in the community, the courtroom or the classroom. Resources are similarly cultivated and nurtured as members give their time and talent toward justice system improvements. Ultimately, through news coverage, awards and reports, such as "Giving Back: A Report on Volunteerism by New Hampshire Lawyers," the Association publicizes the tremendous service contributions of lawyers.

The New Hampshire Bar Association's role makes the value of the collective contributions of the membership more than just the sum of the thousands of hours of time lawyers devote to service. It is just one aspect of the Bar's work

...supporting members and their service to the public and the justice system...

Following along with the theme of "Quest for Justice," this issue features a narrative of a young lawyer's unrelenting pursuit of a just verdict for his client, an injured railroad worker, in the days before workers' compensation in the early 1900s. Fred Upton's narrative of this obscure but epic case (it took more than 10 years and six Supreme Court decisions before the plaintiff could claim his compensation) compelling relates the ingenuity and tenacity brought to it by the young lawyer who was his father, Robert Upton. Sometimes it helps to look back in time to appreciate the depth of the bedrock of New Hampshire lawyers' professionalism.

The Quest for Justice continues outside the courtroom as well. Another article in this issue, "Mediation is About More Than Money," by Peter Wolfe, provides instruction for attorneys on how lawyers must adjust their thinking and the counseling they provide to clients to help facilitate successful mediation that will give their clients the remedies that truly satisfy them.

Speaking of truly satisfying clients...as Bar members, you are our clients here at the Bar Center. And I want to leave with a final reminder to please browse through the Member Resources Guide in the center of this issue. If you don't see what you need - or don't know where to begin to access the Bar's services, call me - or any of the Bar staff (see the staff contact listing elsewhere in this issue).

All the best to you for 2004!

Jeannine L. McCoy is the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Bar Association. Contact her at jmccoy@nhbar.org or by calling 603 224-6942.

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