Shawn M. Tanguay, an attorney with Garner, Fulton & Waugh in Lebanon, credits his involvement 20 years ago with We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution for sparking his interest in becoming a lawyer.
"I believe that I was in 10th grade at Gorham High School at the time. My
civics class was asked by our teacher Mike Brosnan if we would be willing to participate in a contest regarding the Constitution. While civics class was required, we had the option to decline to participate in the competition, "says Tanguay.
"This was the first time that Gorham would be participating. Mr. Brosnan transformed the curriculum of the class to incorporate our preparation for the competition," Tanguay went on. "The students were split up into groups…. We studied our assigned sections and routinely quizzed one another on the questions to be presented."
Gorham took first place at the regional event. The class had not expected to win and the members and were very excited when they did, especially since the school was completely new to the competition.
"Eventually, we lost in the state finals, so we didn’t get a chance to go to the national competition in Washington, D.C..," says Tanguay. However, he recalls the relationships that he and his classmates formed while preparing for the competition.
"It truly brought our class together and provided all of us with a tremendous boost to our confidence."
Tanguay says the experience helped shape his decision to become a lawyer. "I remember the judges for the competition were lawyers and state legislators; that showed me that my interest in this field really had practical applications. For the first time, I realized that I could actually have a career [in law] if I wanted to pursue it."
Bar News asked Tanguay whether he had learned anything through his experience with the We the People program that now, years later, connected with his practice of law. Tanguay said, "My job requires constant review and consideration of constitutional issues, almost on a daily basis – which is essentially a continuation of the skills that I began with the We the People program."
"I had planned to take part as a judge this year, but was called into court unexpectedly; I have never volunteered for the We the People program before; I just thought that I was finally in a position where I could offer my services and experience to assist this great program as others had done for me."