Bar Journal - December 1, 2002
We Want You! As a Voluntary Member of the Mandatory Bar
By: Jeannine McCoy
An Introduction From the Executive Director
A relatively-famous frog (Kermit) has observed "It's not easy being green." I would add, if you are one of the 33 unified bar associations across the country, "It's not easy being mandatory." As you well know, to practice law in New Hampshire one has to belong to the New Hampshire Bar Association. Mandatory anything can be difficult for anyone to swallow at times, and reasonable people differ on the value, economic and philosophical, of mandatory bar membership. In fact, we thank Attorney Vin Wenners for sharing his perspective in this issue of Bar Journal (see page 46) on why membership in the NHBA should be voluntary.
There are advantages of cohesiveness and economies of scale to being a member of an organization to which all must belong. Being mandatory carries with it added obligations for the organization, however. Because members are compelled to belong, the officers and staff of the New Hampshire Bar Association recognize that we are charged with an even greater responsibility to "support members and their service to the public and the justice system." Still, we want you as a voluntary member of the mandatory bar...and here are some of the reasons why...
Top 10 Reasons For Being A Voluntary Member Of The Mandatory Bar
Stay current: FREE LEGAL RESEARCH FOR MEMBERS - Whether you use it to fulfill all your computer-assisted online legal research needs or use it to augment other commercial legal research tools, your Casemaker savings alone are "worth the price of admission." Access New Hampshire Supreme Court cases dating back to 1872, along with NH RSAs, administrative rules and Casemaker Web libraries for Federal law, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and several other states. New states are being added to the Casemaker Consortium, including the remainder of New England, giving members even more free, on-line research power.
Stay informed: Through news and information you can use, brought to you via the award-winning Bar News publication sent to the entire bar 22 times a year; the quarterly Bar Journal; "e-bulletins" sent twice monthly to all bar members with e-mail; and www.nhbar.org - a 24/7 portal to your association.
Stay educated: NHBA CLE is continuing education by and for NH lawyers. From multi-day programs to 1-2 hour offerings, from "live" sessions to video and audio tapes, from general practice areas to highly specialized topics - NHBA CLE consistently earns high ratings for its content and the experience...all at "below market" prices. Over 100 handbooks are available for loan or purchase - and coming soon - CLE on-line through www.nhbar.org.
Stay employed: Use the Lawyer Referral Service to expand your practice, open the door to out-of-state clients, reach the internet-savvy and maximize your marketing dollars. By becoming a panel member, you may be connected to one of the hundreds of inquiries LRS receives each month from members of the public looking to retain attorneys for a wide variety of legal matters.
Stay engaged: Leverage your volunteer time as you fulfill your public service obligations through programs the Association organizes and supports on your behalf. Your volunteer efforts are facilitated by the Bar through such services as the screening of Pro Bono cases and clients, mentoring and training, coordination of domestic violence referrals through the DOVE Program, referrals of Reduced Fee cases, and the coordination of the monthly LawLine telephone service and the Question of Law newspaper columns.
Or take another avenue to public service through Law-Related Education programs such as Mock Trial, We the People and "A Lawyer and Judge in Every School" Day. Your Bar makes it easy for you to connect with schools and teachers around the state. Through LRE, hundreds of volunteer Bar members reach tens of thousands of young citizens with information about the law and the justice system each year.
Stay in the loop: Improve your knowledge and skill while networking with colleagues with similar legal interests by joining one or more of the 20 sections of the bar. In addition to regular meetings, several sections exchange information through newsletters and plan special interest seminars with the CLE Committee. Members of each section are now linked together through listservs, the electronic way to share information and guidance with some of the best legal minds in the state.
Stay covered: The NHBA Insurance Agency Inc. was established to assist members in finding appropriate insurance coverage. This NHBA subsidiary has arranged professional liability coverage for hundreds of NH firms, and is about to provide bond coverage on-line. A complete package of insurance coverage for firms is being established to provide "a la carte" or "turn-key" options from the agency that exclusively serves Bar members.
Stay connected: Bar committees and sections, membership meetings and events such as the New Lawyers Reception and Pro Bono Golf Tournament provide opportunities that inform, entertain, and connect members with colleagues from around the state. The on-line member directory can also help you connect with others.
Stay sane: If you are new, you can turn to the New Lawyers Committee for mentoring and networking. Troubled?...the Lawyers' Assistance Committee can provide confidential support. The Ethics Committee can help resolve ethical quandaries, and the Dispute Resolution Committee can help resolve fee or other (non-discipline-related) disputes with clients.
Stay proud: Members can be proud of the New Hampshire bar's high standards of ethics, integrity, independent judgment, civility and obligation to the rule of law and the justice system. These values are articulated and fostered through the collective culture of the Bar and programs such as the Statewide Professionalism Day, the Professionalism Creed, Litigation Guidelines and, most importantly, each member's professional conduct.
The Association has a great history of service to the public and the justice system. Each year, the Bar recognizes members for service through many Association programs and in other community-based efforts. This year, the Bar will begin collecting information on attorney volunteerism to publish a report that begins to catalogue the depth and breadth of Bar members' service to their communities. We will be looking for your input to illustrate the hundreds of ways lawyers and law firms enrich their communities by giving their time, talents and other resources...we believe nobody does it better, and we need your help to prove it!
Many members aren't aware of the full scope of what the Bar Association can do for them. In this issue of Bar Journal, some of the most important services of the association are described in detail. If you don't see what you need - or don't know where to begin to access the Bar's services, call me. The legal profession, and the business and social environment in which you practice are changing rapidly. You can help me help the Bar formulate and maintain a menu of services and activities that continue to effectively "support members and their service to the public and the justice system."
The best to you in 2003!
Jeannine L. McCoy is the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Bar Association. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 603 224-6942.
Editor's Note: Due to the number of article submissions by members of the Bar, the Bar Journal is unable to publish all of the articles it receives in a timely fashion-especially when the articles do not cover subject material corresponding to a previously arranged issue theme. In the next few months, several Bar Journal-type articles will be published on the Bar's Web site, with excerpts appearing in the Bar News to alert readers to them. These articles will also be included in the Bar Journal archival material that will soon be posted on the Casemaker Web Library.