Award honors a UNH School of Law graduate exemplifying a commitment to pro bono service

By Scott Merrill

On Jan. 19 the Warren B. Rudman Center at UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law, and 603 Legal Aid’s Pro Bono Program, presented the Bruce E. Friedman pro bono award to Attorney Katherine J. Morneau during a virtual ceremony.

Professor Friedman, a charismatic and dedicated attorney by all accounts, who founded the UNH Franklin Pierce Law School’s civil practice clinic, died in 1997 at age 50.

The Award honors a University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law graduate and member of the New Hampshire bar who exemplifies the Friedman’s commitment to representing the indigent through exemplary pro bono service.

UNH Franklin Pierce Law School Dean, Meghan Carpenter, opened the virtual evening ceremony.

“All of us at Franklin Pierce cherish the memory of Bruce Friedman,” Carpenter said. “He founded the law school clinic, the vehicle that provides legal services to so many people in need across New Hampshire and across the country. Bruce’s name is synonymous with pro bono in New Hampshire.”

Superior Court Judge, Charles S. Temple, shared remembrances of his late friend and colleague.

“I’ve talked about Bruce before and it’s always an emotional time for me because of what he meant to me and what he did for me,” Temple said. “And tonight is truly a full-circle moment for me.”

Temple met Friedman in 1982 and taught classes in the civil law practice clinic as an adjunct professor.

“From 1982 until 1987 he was a real mentor, along with Ellen [Musinsky] and I got the unique opportunity to step into his shoes and teach his students,” Temple said. “And then I met Kate Morneau in 2003 and she became a student of mine. I was able to mentor her and help her make some decisions and I have to tell you Kate, without Bruce Friedman, Kate Morneau and Chuck Temple never meet at that law school.”

“I want to provide a heartfelt thank you to everyone at the University of New Hampshire Law School, we couldn’t have done this without you,” Bellafant said. “And Covid will not get to rob us of celebrating the Bruce Friedman recipient in 2022.”

New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice, Gary Hicks, congratulated Morneau on behalf of the Supreme Court.

“On behalf of the entire Supreme Court, we’re very proud of you,” Hicks said. “We care about you, we read about you and we are very impressed with the things you have done, and we’re likewise impressed with the things you will do. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the Bruce Friedman award than you.”

Attorney Catherine Shanelaris, the 2016 recipient of the Friedman award, introduced Morneau, after sharing an anecdote about Professor Friedman’s love of basketball in 1989.

“On one particular afternoon after class, Bruce was playing some basketball with some of my classmates and he broke his nose,” she recalled. “The next morning a roll of masking tape went around the class so we could all put it on our nose and when he walked in the room…I can’t tell you, the look on his face was just something I’ll always remember.”

 

603 Legal Aid Executive Director, Sonya Bellafant, introduced Emma Sisti, the new pro bono manager at 603 Legal Aid.  The pro bono program, originally housed at the New Hampshire Bar Association, merged with the Legal Advice and Referral Center in June, 2021, to form 603 Legal Aid.

Attorney Morneau graduated from UNH School of Law in 2005. She is the founding attorney at Morneau Law, where she represents families dealing with divorce, probate, and Medicaid and estate planning.

“I can’t be more thankful to Franklin Pierce School of Law,” Morneau said. “I’m proud for having gone to the school. I love coming back and talking to the students and seeing the professors. And thank you to 603 Legal Aid, Pam Dodge, Sonya Bellafant, and Emma Sisti, it’s so wonderful to see you, I feel like it’s been a long time. Receiving this award is just simply overwhelming.”

The Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Service was established in 2013. The Center honors the legacy of Senator Warren Rudman by training public service leaders to seek justice, serve their community, and work for the common good.