In early 2021, the NH Access to Justice Commission released its report entitled Equal Access to Justice: An Assessment of Civil Legal Needs in New Hampshire, which was covered on the front page of the February 2021 issue of Bar News. This report highlighted many issues that the civil legal aid community has known for years, namely that New Hampshire has a shortage of low or no cost legal help. It also explored the link between economic insecurity and civil legal problems, as well as the unique civil legal problems faced by people with disabilities.
This is something that Holly Salois, a 3L at the University of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce School of Law was able to learn firsthand as a Rudman Summer Fellow. Salois had this to say about her 2021 summer internship at the Disability Rights Center, “Working at the Disability Rights Center this past summer gave me a newfound appreciation for the incredible legal work being done in non-profit organizations across the state. It was inspiring to see so many attorneys all working together to achieve a common mission: advocating for those with disabilities.”
In 2020, the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law was awarded a Justice Grant of $8,000 for their Rudman Summer Fellows Program to support $4000 stipends to cover living expenses for two law students to work full-time over the summer at organizations that serve underrepresented populations. While we are unable to determine exactly the number of New Hampshire residents impacted by these internships at non-profits and government agencies, it is obvious from the AJC’s assessment that the need is there. These internships help reduce stress on the New Hampshire legal system, as well as impress upon participating law students the importance of pro bono work as a part of their professional obligations.
Since 2014, the NH Bar Foundation has awarded Justice Grants biannually to qualified applicants throughout New Hampshire. These are made possible through a wide range of charitable funds held by the NH Charitable Foundation. In every one of these biannual awards since 2014, a portion of the Hon. William F. Batchelder Fund has been awarded to the UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law to support their Rudman Summer Fellows Program. The Hon. William F. Batchelder Fund was set up with the purpose of supporting legal services for low-income and other disadvantaged people in New Hampshire. Salois wrote in a letter summarizing her experience:
“Your support made my summer work with the Disability Rights Center possible. (It) allowed me to pay my living expenses so that I could work full time without a salary.”
The 2022 Justice Grant awards will be announced on the Bar Foundation page of the Bar News in the April 2022 issue.