By Grace Yurish

Jack Middleton (far right) and the 2024 Fellows Inductees (L to R): James Scully, Jr., Justice James Bassett, Sara Crisp, Sarah Freeman, Lyndsay Robinson, and Katherine Hedges. Photo by Grace Yurish

The New Hampshire Bar Foundation’s (NHBF) Fellows Program, which honors excellence in the legal profession and aims to provide support for the Foundation, held its Fellows Justice Reception at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester on May 14.

The NHBF Fellows Program is an honorary organization composed of attorneys and judges nominated by their peers for their exceptional professional accomplishments and unwavering commitment to public service. The Fellows Program promotes equal access to justice and enhancing the legal system. They demonstrate their support for the NHBF through annual donations, pro bono work, and active participation in events and initiatives that further the Foundation’s mission.

The reception, last held in 2019, opened with introductory remarks from NHBF Board of Directors Chair Scott Harris. He expressed gratitude to the event sponsors, Bar staff, and the Fellows for their contributions and ongoing support of the Foundation.

Attorney Bradley Cook then took the podium to present the 2024 Nixon-Zachos Award to retired New Hampshire Supreme Court (NHSC) Chief Justice John Broderick, Jr. Cook highlighted Justice Broderick’s illustrious career, including roles as an eminent trial attorney, president of both the New Hampshire Bar Association and the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association, Chief Justice of the NHSC, Dean of the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law, Founder and Director of the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership & Public Service, Senior Director of External Affairs at Dartmouth Health, and now Director of the Compensation Funds for YDC victims.

“In short, the man can’t keep a job,” Cook joked, eliciting laughter from the audience.

The Nixon-Zachos Award was established in 2016 to honor the legacies of David Nixon and Kimon Zachos, two New Hampshire lawyers who were trailblazers in both the legal field and their communities. Their work emphasized the crucial role of lawyers in shaping the law and ensuring that all individuals stand equal before it.

2024 Nixon-Zachos Award recipient retired Chief Justice John Broderick, Jr. giving remarks. Photo by Grace Yurish

“This award is not given for what lawyers do for the Bar – all of the recipients of this award have done plenty of things for the Bar,” Cook noted. “This award is given for the things that are done in the community, and what they’ve done in areas other than the law. It is perhaps John Broderick’s most important contribution to our community in his work to familiarize people with the issue of mental health in children and adults.”

Justice Broderick received a standing ovation as he approached the podium. He reflected on his career and the achievement that means the most to him – educating the public about mental illness.

Broderick’s son began experiencing mental health issues at the age of 13, profoundly affecting their family.

“I have opened up to a world I didn’t really understand,” Justice Broderick shared. “I’ve met more kids who are suffering from stress, depression, and anxiety than I knew existed. It’ll change you. It had made me impatient for change in the world of mental health.”

Today, he travels nationwide to raise awareness. In 2022, he published a book titled Backroads and Highways: My Journey to Discovery on Mental Health. In his speech, he emphasized the need to prioritize mental health in the United States.

“My career has been wonderful,” he said. “I love this Bar and I love the lawyers of the state. I’m really humbled to receive an award with the names of two people that I admired and respected.”

Following the award presentation, Dr. Sean Westwood, an associate professor of government at Dartmouth College affiliated with the Polarization Lab at Duke University and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University addressed the audience. He delivered an insightful talk on American political conflict, discussing political polarization and debunking associated myths.

To conclude the event, attorney Jack Middleton, one of the founding members of the NHBF, inducted six new Fellows, each pledging at least $2,000 to the Foundation. Their support, along with that of all Fellows, is vital to advancing the NHBF’s mission. This year’s inductees are NHSC Justice James Bassett and attorneys Sara Crisp, Sarah Freeman, Katherine Hedges, Lyndsay Robinson, and James Scully, Jr.

The Fellows Justice Reception was a resounding success, celebrating the extraordinary contributions of legal professionals committed to public service and equal access to justice. The continued support and active engagement of the Fellows ensure that the Foundation’s mission to promote justice and improve lives will thrive for years to come.