By Tom Jarvis

The New Hampshire Bar Association’s Annual Meeting, held on June 23-24, took place at a new venue this year: the AC Hotel by Marriott in Portsmouth. The event, entitled “Changemakers: 150 Years of Navigating Uncharted Waters,” consisted of a two-and-a-half-hour CLE program, activities celebrating history and diversity, a reception on the rooftop overlooking the city, and a spirited banquet with the bestowment of the annual President’s Awards and the passing of the gavel to new NHBA president Paul Chant.

Outgoing President Jonathan M. Eck passes the gavel to incoming president Paul W. Chat. Photo by Rob Zielinski

“I am excited that we had such a strong turnout,” Chant says. “As always, it was great to see many of the lawyers I have seen in Bar activities over the years and lawyers I have worked with and against. The collegiality was wonderful.”

The first morning began with outgoing NHBA president Jonathan Eck welcoming the attendees and introducing the CLE, Weathering the Storms, Seeking New Horizons.

Circuit Court Judge Susan Carbon opened the CLE by sharing some historical statistics on women’s rights and women in the New Hampshire Bar before concluding with the following: “Numbers matter – and watching the numbers progress in the profession is important – but diversity, equity, and inclusion is more than just numbers. We need to talk about belonging, about being truly authentic and backing up our beliefs with what we do. How do we get there?”

Manchester NAACP President James McKim, who was the keynote speaker, talked about the paradox of diversity, defined DEI, and explained the attributes of discrimination. After he gave some tips on conversational and engagement norms to help with interactions in the workplace and eliminating bias in the employment cycle, there was a panel discussion on overcoming barriers and obstacles to resistance with McKim, Judge Carbon, New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice Gary Hicks, UNH Law Dean Megan Carpenter, UNH Law professor Ellen Musinsky, and attorneys Lyndsay Robinson and Lauren Irwin. The CLE closed with remarks and a call to action by Lyndsay Robinson, which can be found in the sidebar of this article on this page.

“I am proud to have been associated with this event and others that are part of a movement within the New Hampshire Bar to ensure that justice is equitably served and that the practitioners of justice understand how to interact in an equitable and inclusive manner,” McKim says. “Equality is a difficult concept to implement. Unfortunately, equal treatment does not always result in equality. And we are challenged to treat everyone fairly because of our own biases. Equitable treatment is needed for true justice. That is the message we wanted as the takeaway from the event.”

After lunch, meeting goers had a choice between two Portsmouth activities: the Black Heritage Trail tour or a visit to Strawbery Banke Museum. The trail participants were treated to a guided tour around the town of Portsmouth, spanning from the docks to an African American burial ground memorial, learning historical facts along the way about the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the subsequent tribulations of those who found their freedom.

Visitors of Strawbery Banke engaged in a self-guided tour around the nearly 10-acre outdoor history museum, which includes beautifully restored buildings, costumed role players, and more than 30,000 artifacts, all dedicated to bringing early American history to life.

In the evening, as Jonathan Eck’s last few hours as NHBA president wound down, he kicked off the awards banquet by recognizing newly confirmed and recently retired judges before bestowing the three President’s Awards.

Russ Hilliard of Upton & Hatfield received the E. Donald Dufresne Award for Outstanding Professionalism.

“It was a humbling experience to receive an award in Don Dufresne’s name. He is among the finest attorneys I have known,” Hilliard says. “Thanks to those who nominated me, and to past president Eck and president Chant for their kind words at the Annual Meeting.”

The Distinguished Service to the Legal Profession Award was given to Thomas Quarles of Devine Millimet.

“I was very grateful to be given this recognition from my fellow Bar members,” Quarles says. “I was also thrilled to celebrate with the many colleagues from my law firm that attended, as well as other members of the Bar that I knew.”

Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau was bestowed the Justice William A. Grimes Award for Judicial Professionalism, but was unable to attend the meeting and accepted the award via a prerecorded video speech.

After the awards program, Jonathan Eck gave an overview of the past 150 years as a bar association, then took a few moments to recognize past president Richard Guerriero, immediate past president Sandra Cabrera, and incoming president Paul Chant before passing the gavel and stepping down as president.

Paul Chant, the NHBA’s 124th president, closed out the evening by acknowledging the accomplishments of Jonathan Eck and how his entry into the role of president was accelerated and unconventional due to Sandra Cabrera becoming a judge almost immediately after she became president. When Eck became president, he never experienced having a gavel passed to him at an Annual Meeting, as is the custom of the New Hampshire Bar, so Chant presented him with his own gavel.

Chant then outlined his four goals for his year as president, which are listed in his column on page two of this issue.

“I appreciated the nice reception I received as I took the gavel,” Chant says. “It’s nice to know I have so many good friends in this profession. I look forward to hearing from Bar members how we can enhance the services we provide to better serve our members, the public, and the courts.”

“The collegiality demonstrated throughout the day was one more example of the New Hampshire advantage—getting together to explore where we’ve been over our 150-year history, and enjoying where we are at the moment,” NHBA Executive Director George Moore says.

The NHBA extends its sincerest thanks to the sponsors, advertisers, and attendees who made this event possible and looks forward to seeing you in February at the Midyear Meeting in Manchester. In the following spread of pictures from the 2023 Annual Meeting, we intentionally omitted captions to fit in more photos.