By Jonathan Eck
Over the years, I have found that the carefree days of summer, when the warm weather seems to create more opportunities (or at least a greater desire) to relax, provide a welcome and necessary opportunity to reflect and assess all aspects of my life. While taking in a beautiful view from a mountaintop vista, sitting beside a serene body of water, lounging in an Adirondack chair, or driving in my car on a sunny summer day, my mind sometimes wanders to my plans for the future, either immediate or distant. In this frame of mind, it is a time of year when each of us can consider how to maximize the benefits of our New Hampshire Bar Association membership and pursue the opportunities that it provides for each of us.
In many ways, what a member of the NHBA gets out of their membership is directly correlated to what that attorney puts into it. Attorney participation is at the core of fully utilizing the NHBA’s services and benefiting from one’s membership.
Participating in the NHBA is also in the public good. Committees of the Bar, including the Law Related Education committee, serve an important public purpose. As many NHBA members know, LRE is a leader in civics education in our state. Through important programs like We the People, A Lawyer and Judge in Every School, Civics in Action, and Beyond High School, LRE reaches New Hampshire’s students year after year, and helps to make them better informed citizens. For those students, LRE’s programs provide important exposure and bedrock instruction that help those students as they develop into contributing members of society. Volunteer opportunities with LRE (including limited-length volunteer commitments, such as volunteering for a single day or visiting a school for a block of hours) abound for New Hampshire lawyers, and for those who care deeply about the importance of civics education, LRE provides a valuable means of advancing that cause.
Most of our members are also familiar with the numerous NHBA Sections and the benefits of shared knowledge through participation in section meetings and on online forums. The NHBA Sections offer motivated lawyers the chance to further develop their subject matter expertise and share knowledge and strategies with other practitioners.
Other NHBA programs are important for developing future leadership, both in the profession in general and within the Association. The NHBA’s Leadership Academy has proven to be a valuable pipeline to board positions with the Association’s Board of Governors for many relatively recently admitted members of the Bar. These next-generation or second-career attorneys have proven to be capable and well-prepared leaders for our profession in board business, and they tend to join the board energized and with ideas for how to improve the practice of law in our state and to enhance the Association’s means of supporting practitioners.
The NHBA also has multiple committees that serve important functions for New Hampshire lawyers, including the Continuing Legal Education committee, which is tasked each year with developing timely, informative, and interesting CLE programming. In my experience, many of the best CLE programs I have attended were developed and put on by the NHBA CLE Committee. Experienced members of our Association are well suited to provide state-specific guidance and training in all areas and aspects of practice in our state. Another critically important NHBA committee is the Committee on Cooperation with the Courts, which facilitates important dialogue between practitioners and members of the bench about virtually all aspects of the operations at the state and federal courts in New Hampshire. The Committee on Cooperation provides practitioners with a critical and unique opportunity to provide input to leadership from the courts on court operations. I served on this committee for several years and regularly saw the valuable exchange of ideas and potential improvements between members of the bench and practitioners. The list of NHBA Committees is too long and numerous to identify each of them but suffice it to say that virtually every interest a member might have is likely addressed through one or more of the committees.
I have been active in the Bar Association throughout most of my legal career, and I have found both my board service and general participation to be professionally and personally rewarding. My involvement on the Board of Governors for more than a decade now has given me the means to participate on numerous matters of great importance to our profession. Work on such projects and issues has increased my pride in being a lawyer and has helped me feel like I had a clear voice in our profession. I have also found my participation in myriad NHBA programs and committees has provided me with a means of interacting with other lawyers who I otherwise never would have had occasion to get to know. This valuable relationship building has helped me more effectively represent my clients by allowing me to develop relationships and trust with other practitioners, which helps me efficiently get to the essence of core matters for my clients.
I am proud to be a member of this association and my practice has benefited immensely through the countless programs, resources, and opportunities that have been available to me through the NHBA. While it provides many member benefits for even passive members of the Bar, active involvement is the best way to leverage the value of both our Association and a member’s membership. I encourage all our members to explore the opportunities available through the Association and to pursue those that are of greatest interest or importance to them. This time of year is the perfect time to become more involved in the Bar and all of its offerings. I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities.