Nearly 600 attorneys and guests attended the NH Bar Association’s Midyear Meeting on Friday, February 21 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Manchester NH to participate in a day of educational sessions, award presentations and networking. The topic of this year’s meeting, Speaking Up: Power, Peril and Politics looked at historical events that shaped the legal and moral compass of our nation, encouraging participants to reflect on how these events are relevant today. “The NHBA is thrilled to have produced cutting edge MYM programs touching on legal ethics that effect everyday Americans. That’s exemplified by lawyers’ roles in Watergate and overcoming the Japanese-American internments during WWII.” remarked George R. Moore, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Bar Association.
More than 100 people arrived early for the popular Gender Equality Breakfast, featuring Liz Tentarelli, President of the League of Women Voters NH. Tentarelli spoke about how far women have come in advancing their representation in our democracy and stressed that there is still much to do to make the right to vote equal for all citizens. During the breakfast, Christina Ferrari of Bernstein Shur Sawyer & Nelson, P.A. in Manchester delivered an inspirational and emotional speech as she accepted the Phillip S. Hollman Award for her work promoting gender equality in the legal system.
In the first educational session of the day, James D. Robenalt presented Lawyers as Whistleblowers, a look at the intrinsic details of the role that John Dean played as White House counsel during Watergate. The series of events that unfolded during Watergate brought about fundamental changes in legal ethics, requiring lawyers to “report up” and “report out” when crime or fraud cannot be stopped despite the best efforts of the lawyer. The afternoon session treated participants to a viewing of the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award-Winning documentary, And Then They Came for Us: The Perils of Silence. Told by George Takei (of Star Trek fame) and others who were among the 120,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated during WWII in a profound violation of their constitutional rights, the documentary retells the difficult story and follows Japanese American activists as they speak out today against the Muslim registry and travel ban. Attendees were treated to a lively discussion following the film, moderated by NHBA Board of Governors’ President, Edward D. Philpot, Jr. and featuring Dale Minami, lead counsel for in the landmark Korematsu Coram Nobis case, Karen Korematsu, founder and executive director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, Hoyt Zia, founding president of the National Asian Pacific Bar Association and Mona Movafaghi of Drummond Woodsum & MacMahon of Manchester. Pleased with the turnout, NHBA President of the Board of Governor’s, Edward D. Philpot, Jr. noted, “This program has been extremely well received and we have really captured everyone’s attention delivering a terrific and top notch program for members of the bar.”
A perennial highlight of the MidYear Meeting was the honors and awards luncheon that recognized attorneys from around the state for their service to the public and the profession.
Christina Ferrari of Bernstein Shur Sawyer & Nelson, P.A. in Manchester accepted the Philip S. Hollman Award for Gender Equality this year. The award, established on the occasion of Judge Hollman’s retirement from the Superior Court bench in 2003, honors Judge Hollman’s efforts as a stalwart advocate for gender equality in the legal system. Ferrari is a member of the Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Business, and Healthcare Practice Groups. She represents individuals and businesses in complex litigation matters and appeals in state and federal courts, before administrative agencies, and in the dispute resolution process. She is President of the New Hampshire Women’s Bar Association (NHWBA), and has been on the Board of the NHWBA since 2011. She previously served as the NHWBA’s Treasurer and Vice-President. Christina is also a member of the Manchester Business Council, appointed by Mayor Craig, and a member of the New Hampshire Tech Alliance’s BioMedTech Committee and Government Affairs Committee.
Distinguished Service to the Public Award
Barbara R. Keshen received the Distinguished Service to the Public Award. She was admitted to the Bar in 1976 after earning her degree from New England School of Law in Boston. She worked for 30 years as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office and as a defense attorney with the New Hampshire Public Defender Program. She also served as the Legal Director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union. For the last 14 years Keshen has been an advocate for the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty where she currently serves as chair.
Jack P. Crisp, Jr. of The Crisp Law Firm in Concord, NH was presented with the Vickie M. Bunnell Award for Community Service. After graduating from the Franklin Pierce Law Center in 1978, he served as Assistant County Attorney in the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office. From 1980 until 2006 he started his own firm, Crisp and Richmond, in Berlin, where he remained until 2006. From 2006 until 2008 he was a part of Crisp, Barrett and Uchida. Jack travels and takes cases in every county in New Hampshire had has been a source of knowledge and a mentor for many new lawyers in the Bar. His career highlights include the first prenuptial agreement case to go to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Also, he helped establish a standard for naming children in New Hampshire when the parents are in dispute, even when one parent does not have primary custody. Jack served as President of the New Hampshire Bar Association from 1994-1995 and is the current NHBA chair of the Continuing Legal Education Committee.
Kay E. Drought received the NH Bar Association Outstanding Service in Public Sector/Public Interest Law Award. She is the litigation director for New Hampshire Legal Assistance (NHLA). NHLA is a state-wide non-profit law firm serving New Hampshire’s low income and elderly residents in civil legal cases. Its advocates help clients escape abuse, protect their homes, benefits and income, and access health care, education, and other services. Kay has worked as a legal aid attorney in both Texas and New Hampshire.
Drought earned her B.A. in political economy from Williams College and her law degree from the University of California-Berkeley. Kay is a member of the NHBA’s Federal Practice Section. She has written and spoken about Medicaid and legal aid practice for various publications and audiences.
Lisa L. Wolford received the NH Bar Association Outstanding Service in Public Sector/Public Interest Law Award. Wolford joined the appellate unit in the Criminal Justice Bureau of the NH Attorney General’s Office in July, 2012. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1986 and Cornell Law School in 2002. Lisa began her legal career that fall at the New Hampshire Public Defender. There, she handled everything from juvenile-delinquency to homicide cases until 2007, when she began to focus exclusively on sexually violent predator litigation. After taking the first SVP case to trial in 2009, Lisa turned her attention to appellate practice, litigating appeals at the Public Defender’s Appellate Defender Program. Lisa stayed at the Appellate Defender until 2012. She co-wrote the Guide to Appellate Advocacy in New Hampshire with Appellate Defender Stephanie Hausman. The guide, published on the NH Bar website in 2014, was written for practitioners who do not routinely handle appeals, as well as for pro se litigants.
Eileen Fox received the Special President’s Award for Distinguished Service to the Legal Profession. Fox served as the clerk of the New Hampshire Supreme Court in Concord, NH. As clerk, she had primary responsibility for the administrative operation of the court. She earned her B.A. from Loyola University of Maryland in 1976 and her J.D. from the University of Cincinnati in 1982. After law school Eileen served as a law clerk at the New Hampshire Supreme Court for Chief Justice John W. King. She practiced law in Manchester for ten years before returning to the court in 1994 to work as a staff attorney and then as the court’s legal counsel. She was appointed clerk of the court in 2001. Eileen is a member of the NHBA’s Committee on Cooperation with the Courts. She is also an active member of the National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks and recently completed a term on the NCACC’s Executive Committee.
Pro Bono Awards were given to the ‘Rising Stars’ of the legal community and for Distinguished Pro Bono service to the community. These recipients work to make a difference for those in need who are disadvantaged families, individuals and seniors.
Roger B. Phillips, of the Phillips Law Office in Concord was presented the L. Jonathan Ross Award for Outstanding Legal Services to the Poor. As an advocate for low-income people with consumer law issues, Roger Phillips is a stand-out, hands down. From helping homeowners facing foreclosure through the NH Foreclosure Relief Project, including a NH Supreme Court victory in one recent case, to pursuing the legal rights of consumers under the Fair Debt Collection Act, he is a force for justice for people with limited resources facing tough financial times. While making a difference for individual low-income clients, Roger also assists Pro Bono with training sessions for social service agency staff and is always available to mentor newer attorneys. With his long, outstanding record of public service, it is no surprise that Roger previously received the Association’s Vickie Bunnell Award for Community Service. Roger is a 50-year member of the NH Bar Association and currently serves on the Pro Bono Referral System Board.
Pro Bono Distinguished Service Awards
Cindy M. Bodendorf, Raymond
A solo practitioner with a big heart, Cindy Bodendorf chose law as her second career to be able to make a difference. Not long after joining the NH Bar in 2014, she signed on to the Pro Bono panel and quickly became a steadfast volunteer. Cindy brings to bear her passion for assisting people through the legal process of divorce and/or parenting rights to her Pro Bono cases, helping low-income clients who would otherwise be left to struggle on their own. In addition, Cindy makes time to accept DOVE Project referrals from two crisis center agencies. Her volunteer engagement, however, does not end there. Cindy has also participated in special DOVE programming for UNH law students, sharing her expertise and modelling the pro bono ethic for future generations of lawyers.
Donna J. Brown, Wadleigh Starr & Peters, Manchester
Donna Brown plays a major role in Pro Bono’s Criminal Record Annulment Project, which seeks to give low-income community members burdened with old criminal records a second chance. In 2016 Donna assisted Pro Bono in getting its first annulment clinic off the ground in partnership with the Manchester Chapter of the NAACP. The clinic is now held twice annually. This clinic sparked Pro Bono’s mission to coordinate free legal advice clinics around the state. Along the way, Donna developed an overview of NH Criminal Annulment law used at the outset of every clinic for clients, social service providers and other community members looking for information about the annulment process. Donna has helped not only individual Pro Bono clients but has also impacted Pro Bono’s capacity to extend its reach to those often overlooked by society and the justice system.
Rory J. Parnell, Parnell Michels & McKay, Londonderry
A “Rising Star” in 2014, Rory has gone on to become a dedicated, steadfast volunteer and Pro Bono leader, including serving on the Pro Bono Referral System board. Rory always has one or more open Pro Bono cases and calls when he can take on another, usually for a low-income family facing eviction. Rory enthusiastically supports and participates in NH Free Legal Answers administered by Pro Bono, ranking among the top attorneys in questions answered for low-income people statewide. Five years ago, Rory established and continues to coordinate Pro Bono’s annual hockey tournament fundraiser “Lawyers on Ice,” for which he plays goalie. In 2017, the NH Bar Foundation recognized Rory with its Kirby Award. All told, Rory is a true Pro Bono treasure, who continues to expand his volunteer engagement, making a difference at every turn.
Olivier D. Sakellarios, Sakellarios & Associates, Manchester
Olivier Sakellarios champions the rights and legal protections of domestic violence victims through Pro Bono’s DOVE Project. Since 2006, when he began volunteering to support clients of the YWCA-NH REACH Program, he has averaged more than three cases per year, with a particularly high show of support in 2018 when he represented 14 clients! Olivier is never daunted by the extra time required to work through interpreters to extend representation to limited English speaking clients unfamiliar with the legal system. Crisis center advocates employ only superlatives when reflecting on his participation – “fabulous,” “reliable,” “patient” and “supportive.” The Pro Bono Program is proud to recognize Olivier as a DOVE hero.
Kenneth R. Walton, Spofford
Fully retire or become a Pro Bono volunteer? That’s the question Attorney Kenneth Walton answered in 2013 by signing on as a Pro Bono Active Status attorney. He quickly became the “go to” attorney for low-income families in the Monadnock area facing eviction. During the intervening years, Ken has helped more than 20 families up against eviction and potential homelessness. If Ken has not received a call in a while, he reaches out to Pro Bono for another case. Ken truly appreciates the challenges low-income families face in finding affordable housing and is determined to try to reach the best outcome for each family in turn. The Pro Bono Program’s appreciation of the work and service Ken provides matches the appreciation his clients have expressed towards him.
Pro Bono Rising Stars
Jacqueline A. Leary, McLane Middleton, Manchester
A dynamic attorney with a can-do attitude focusing on family law, Jacqueline Leary joined Pro Bono soon after she became a member of the NH Bar in 2017. She signed up for Divorce Camp that year and took on a case right away for a low-income client. A few short years later in 2019, Jacqueline encouraged Pro Bono to offer a more advanced version of Divorce Camp, this time serving on the planning group as well as faculty for the successful training series. As a volunteer with her own Pro Bono caseload, Jacqueline also co-counsels with other attorneys on their Pro Bono cases. Her enthusiasm is contagious and her clients are fortunate to have her in their corner. In both spirit and deed, Jacqueline exemplifies what it means to be a Pro Bono “Rising Star.”
Lyndsay N. Robinson, Bernazzani Law, Nashua
Lyndsay Robinson is a veritable force when it comes to advocating for the rights of vulnerable, low-income clients. In just two short years, she has accepted 15 Pro Bono Program referrals! These include assisting a disabled single mother, who applied for a DOVE attorney after her ex-boyfriend strangled her and then prevented her from calling for help, among others. Her dedication is illustrated not only by the sheer number of cases she accepts, but in the thought she puts into making sure each client is awarded the maximum protection and support allowable under the law. Lyndsay’s commitment to Pro Bono service and her encouragement to others to volunteer makes her an exceptionally deserving “Rising Star.”
About the NH Bar Association: The New Hampshire Bar Association (NHBA) is a non-profit 501(c)(6), focused on connecting its members and the public to services and opportunities needed regarding the law.
As of June 1, 2021, The DOVE Project transferred from the New Hampshire Bar Association to 603 Legal Aid. If you have questions or need assistance, please call Pam Dodge at 603-224-3333. The NHBA Pro Bono Referral System is also part of 603 Legal Aid.