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The Best in Your Bar

The following awards will be presented at the Midyear Membership Meeting on March 10, 2017, in Manchester.

Distinguished Service to the Public Award

Hon. Joseph Laplante

Hon. Joseph Laplante, chief judge of the US District Court for the District of New Hampshire, has been selected to receive the NH Bar Association 2017 Distinguished Service to the Public Award. Laplante has long been devoted to public service, not just on the bench, but also on behalf of the Bar and in his community. Laplante started his career in private practice and entered public service in 1998, working as a state and federal prosecutor prior to being appointed to the federal bench in 2007. Laplante is an adjunct law professor at the UNH School of Law and Boston College Law School. He is vice chair of the Rivier University Board of Trustees and sits on the Georgetown University Alumni Association Board of Governors. He serves as co-chair of the NH Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission. Laplante is a member of the Webster-Batchelder American Inn of Court, and is past chair of two NH Bar Association committees: the New Lawyers Committee and the Professionalism Committee. He is vice chair of the Board of Overseers of the St. Paul's School Advanced Studies Program and has served on the Nashua Region Board of the NH Charitable Foundation, the Nashua Police Athletic League and Youth Safe Haven, and the St. Christopher School Advisory Board. He coordinates the youth wrestling program for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua and is a boxing referee, licensed to officiate both professional and amateur bouts.

Vickie M. Bunnell Award for Community Service

Robert Varney

Robert Varney, New Hampshire's longest-sitting judge, has been selected to receive the 2017 Vickie M. Bunnell Award for Community Service. Varney presided over the Wolfeboro District Court from 1974 until his retirement at age 70 in 2014. On being a judge, Varney has said: “When they hand you that black robe, you are blessed with the presumption that you are fair-minded, that you gave the goodwill and integrity to see all sides. You have an obligation to live up to those presumptions. No one does, but everyone tries.” Like the award's namesake, Varney sat as a part-time justice while maintaining a full-time legal practice at a small firm in a country setting. Varney spent many years as chair of the NH Supreme Court's Professional Conduct Committee. He served as Wolfeboro's Town Moderator for 27 years. He also mentored many younger lawyers throughout his career. Judge Varney firmly believes in the value of community, both in his hometown and among lawyers in New Hampshire, and consistently found ways to express and reinforce that belief through his words and actions both on and off the bench.

Outstanding Service in Public Sector/Public Interest Law Award

Maureen O'Neil

Maureen O'Neil, clerk of the Rockingham County Superior Court, will receive the 2017 NH Bar Association Outstanding Service in the Public Sector/Public Interest Law Award. Maureen O'Neil has served the state for nearly 25 years, first in the Hillsborough County Attorney's Office and now as clerk of the Rockingham County Superior Court. O'Neill served as an assistant county attorney in the Hillsborough County Attorney's Office from 1992 to 2015, and as first assistant county attorney from 2004 to 2015, when she took on the role of court clerk. As a prosecutor, she prosecuted dozens of major cases, mentored new attorneys and worked closely with law school interns. She excelled in her commitment to the prosecution of child abuse cases, elder abuse cases, violent sexual assaults, among others. As first assistant county attorneys, she provided guidance and advice to various committees, police departments, and attorneys. She also helped keep the attorneys in her office informed about new Supreme Court rulings and worked to maintain open lines of communication across various stakeholder groups in the criminal justice system.

President's Award for Service to the Profession

David Rothstein

David Rothstein, deputy director of the NH Public Defender Program and chair of the NH Supreme Court's Professional Conduct Committee, has been selected to receive a special 2017 NH Bar Association President's Award for Service to the Profession. He formerly served as deputy chief appellate defender and has worked at the NHPD since 1989, handling some of the most complex criminal defense work in the state. He now oversees the hiring and training of new staff attorneys at the NHPD, among other duties. Rothstein's outstanding leadership and dedication to his work makes it a pleasure to serve and collaborate with him. In addition to preparing for and participating in PCC meetings, he presents the committee's input and positions to the NH Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules whenever rules that affect the NH Attorney Discipline Office are at issue. He participates in interviewing new hires at the ADO and serves as liaison between the PCC and the NH Supreme Court and completes countless other tasks in service to the state and the profession.

Philip Hollman Gender Equality Award

Joseph Keefe

The Gender Equality Committee of the NH Bar Association will present the Philip S. Hollman Equality Award to Joseph Keefe, president and CEO of Portsmouth-based sustainable investment firm Pax World Management, at the annual Gender Equality Breakfast to be held immediately preceding the NHBA Midyear Meeting.

Keefe has been a leader in advocating for equal representation of women on boards of directors and in leadership roles, in the workplace and in the legal profession. He has written and spoken widely on sustainable investing and women's empowerment. He is co-chair of the Leadership Group for the Women's Empowerment Principles, a joint program of the United Nations Global Compact and UN Women, and is the former chair of the board for Women Thrive Worldwide, a nonprofit working to shape US international assistance and trade policy to help women in developing countries lift themselves out of poverty.

In 2015, Financial Times named him one of its 10 top feminist men, and in 2014 Keefe was honored at the United Nations as one of five recipients of the Women's Empowerment Principles Leadership Award.

The Hollman Award will be prsented at the Gender Equality Breakfast. Learn more or register to attend the breakfast.

2017 Pro Bono Award Recipients

L. Jonathan Ross Award for Outstanding Commitment to Legal Services for the Poor Lifetime Achievement Award Rising Star Rising Star

Brian Shaughnessy
Kazan & Shaughnessy, Bedford, NH

Judith Roman
Judith Roman, Attorney at Law, Concord, NH

Randi Bouchard
Brown Bouchard & Randall, Concord, NH

John Brandte
The Stein Law Firm, Concord, NH
Distinguished Pro
Bono Service
Distinguished Pro
Bono Service
Distinguished Pro
Bono Service

Stephanie Burnham
Hage Hodes, Manchester, NH

Michael Hulser
Hulser Law - NH Private Defender, Acworth, NH

Joseph Tropiano
Tropiano Law Office, Derry, NH

Read about the Pro Bono recipients in Bar News.

Registration Information

If you can't make the full-day meeting, but would like to attend the Honors and Awards Luncheon, a limited number of lunch-only tickets are available.

We have very few tickets left for the Gender Equality breakfast but room in the CLEs and lunch. Learn more about the meeting.

Past Midyear Meeting Award Recipients

View a list of past NH Bar Award Recipients.

Environmental, Ecological, Geotechnical, Water, and Construction Management

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