By Lynne G. Sabean and Misty Griffith
The New Hampshire Bar Association was founded on July 2, 1873, making 2023 our 150th anniversary year. We think this landmark deserves more than simply refreshing our masthead and adding a special logo to the nhbar.org website.
We also reached out to other Bar Associations to see how they are observing their key anniversaries. This helped us develop a quadrant system that we’re using throughout the year – with the assistance of a special 150-Year Board of Governors subcommittee – to ensure a commemoration of sesquicentennial proportions. This system encompasses:
- Activities and events
- CLEs, workshops, and public education
- Publications and history, and
- Service projects
This article focuses on two of these quadrants.
Publications and History: Remember the Past, Preparing for the Future
Because understanding NHBA’s history means understanding the circumstances that made early Granite State attorneys recognize the need to form an Association, we traced the history of New Hampshire law all the way back to the state’s founding as one of the original colonies. We also combed through the archives of Bar News and a publication that our more experienced practitioners might remember, the New Hampshire Law Weekly. It was a privilege to watch Bar history unfold much faster than in real time. We observed NHBA develop committees, sections, mentoring and leadership programs, robust CLEs, and civil legal aid programs. We saw NH lead efforts to save pro bono programs at a time of vast defunding. We noted attorneys capturing the experiences of their elders in a series of recordings and videos.
NHBA grew with, and in response to, changing times. We read about NHBA’s response to the Spanish Flu, the AIDS epidemic, the COVID pandemic, and more. We watched NHBA itself computerize and also advise our member firms how to do the same. We observed how the Bar Association recognized and responded to DEI and gender equality issues. And sadly, we realized how many of our members had little idea of the magnitude of our accomplishments or the degree to which New Hampshire attorneys chose, over and over again, to be a unified whole.
This ongoing research inspired us to write a series of articles that will appear in these pages throughout 2023. It kicks off this month with a front-page practitioner profile of Lauren Noether, who was first interviewed by New Hampshire Bar Weekly. We caught up with her nearly 40 years later, to see how her practice unfolded and how her ideas about law and justice have evolved over the decades.
Our members are known not only for their congeniality, but also their generosity. No 150th Anniversary Year commemoration would be complete without multiple opportunities for attorneys to participate meaningfully and give back to the community. You’ll be reading more about the following programs over the next several months in Bar News, via our social media, in E-Bulletin, and at nhbar.org. NHBA thanks you in advance for your participation in one or both of these initiatives.
NHBA Speakers Bureau
As part of our 150th anniversary year commemoration, the NHBA is planning to develop a speakers bureau comprised of volunteer attorneys who are willing to speak to schools, civic organizations, nonprofits, and other groups. Members who volunteer to be part of the speakers bureau will identify the topics they are willing to present and the counties where they are available for a speaking engagement. This would work in tandem with a speakers list of judges that the court is developing.
NHBA is rebuilding a list of attorneys who are willing to go out and speak to the public. This will be a free public service with no honorarium for the speakers. Topics offered include civics, civil rights, overview of the justice system in New Hampshire, free/low-cost legal resources, alternative dispute resolution, etc.
A speakers bureau is squarely in line with our mission to support our members, the courts, and the public. It benefits members by helping them build stronger community connections and develop name/firm recognition. The bureau benefits the courts by creating and raising public awareness of the legal resources available and creating a positive image of the NH justice system. Finally, it benefits the public by educating them on important law-related topics.
While the success of this program depends upon prudent administration and community outreach, it ultimately cannot be viable without a robust list of participating attorneys. To learn more or volunteer, contact email@example.com.
“150 Minutes of Giving Back”
We are also encouraging members to give an additional two and a half hours (150 minutes) of service at any time in the 2023 calendar year. While pro bono legal service is strongly encouraged, any community service counts. To further this aim, we have produced a list of ideas and suggestions, which can be found at nhba.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/04095829/2023-01-04-150th-Anniversary-Volunteer-Ideas.pdf.
Those unable to donate their time, for whatever reason, are encouraged to make a financial contribution to a special NHBA 150th Anniversary Fund as follows:
- Donor: $150 / attorney (individual gift)
- Benefactor: $1500+ / attorney (individual gift)
- Benefactor Firm: $150 / attorney (for each attorney in firm; firm gift)
This fund also accepts stand-alone donations from the legal community and outside organizations. Like other Bar Foundation Grants, the 150th Anniversary Year fund will be used for improving access to justice at both the attorney and court levels as well as law-related education projects.
To learn more about the 150th Anniversary Fund or to make a donation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. A special online form is being created to report your service hours; watch nhbar.org and our publications for details.
Ultimately, our sesquicentennial Is not just about celebrating our past; it also sets the stage for our next 150 years. We welcome your suggestions on the activities, events, and milestones that are important to you.
We have also created a special page on the NHBA website that will be updated throughout the year, which can be found at nhbar.org/150th-anniversary-year.