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Bar News - May 5, 2006

Bar Foundation News: Mary Ann Dempsey To Receive 2006 Kirby Award Recognizing Skill, Civility and Good Humor


Atorney Mary Ann Dempsey of Wiggin & Nourie, P.A., was unanimously selected by a panel of judges to receive the Robert E. Kirby Award from the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. The award was established in 1996 in honor of Bob Kirby, a young lawyer “of great skill, civility and good humor” who was practicing law at the firm of Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell when he died at the age of 35. An attorney, who exhibits similar traits and is 35 or younger, is recognized each year through the Kirby Award. Attorney Dempsey was “very happily surprised” to hear she had been chosen. She will receive the 2006 Kirby Award at the NH Bar Foundation Annual Dinner on May 11, at C.R. Sparks, in Bedford, NH.            


After earning her J.D. from Boston College in 1997, prior to joining the law firm of Wiggin & Nourie in Manchester, Dempsey served as a law clerk and senior law clerk to the NH Superior Court. “I loved the clerkship. I used the opportunity to hone my writing and research skills and learned a great deal watching litigators in the courtroom,” she says. Since joining Wiggin & Nourie she has effectively represented her clients during insurance, commercial, and appellate litigation in New Hampshire and Massachusetts courts, including the NH Supreme Court.


In addition to a busy caseload at Wiggin & Nourie, Attorney Dempsey is very active in the legal community. She is the New Hampshire Representative for the national Defense Research Institute, an organization of more than 22,000 defense trial lawyers and corporate counsel. In addition, she serves as an executive committee member of the Manchester Bar Association and is an active member of the NH Women’s Bar Association, the NH Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. 


Born in Lowell and raised in Dracut, Massachusetts, Mary Ann credits her parents for instilling in her and her four siblings a strong work ethic and commitment to community service. She is grateful to Wiggin & Nourie for granting the flexibility that allows for a balance between work and her community service and personal time. Her volunteer activities in the community include coaching St. Joseph Regional Junior High School Cross Country/Track and Field team, even though she is not a field and track athlete. Through a colleague at Wiggin & Nourie who performs pro bono marital work, she was given the opportunity to work on children’s issues by serving on the Advisory Board for Child and Family Services. Dempsey also volunteers at Manchester’s New Horizons Soup Kitchen in an effort to help the working poor, the homeless, and people simply in need of someone to care. Dempsey seems to take it all in stride, however; her colleagues, and indeed the panel of judges who selected her for the Kirby Award, recognize how truly valuable her traits of decency, courtesy and perspective are in all she does.


“I know Mary Ann primarily by reason of being on the opposite side of quite a few personal injury cases with her. She is always competent, courteous, and civil. She is an excellent lawyer of the highest integrity…,” writes Attorney David L. Nixon of Nixon, Raiche, Manning, Vogelman & Leach, P.A., in support of her nomination. Attorney Richard McNamara of Wiggin & Nourie, P.A., adds, “In my view, in and out of the courtroom, she embodies all that the Kirby Award was meant to memorialize.”   


Other distinguished members of the legal community to receive the Kirby Award from the New Hampshire Bar Foundation include: Mary E. Tenn (2005), Kelly A. Ayotte (2004), Jennifer L. Parent (2003), John T. Pendleton (2002), Joseph N. LaPlante (2000), James J. Tenn, Jr. (1999), Diane Murphy Quinlan (1998), Mark E. Howard (1997), and John P. Kacavas (1996).


Since its founding in 1977, the New Hampshire Bar Foundation has awarded more than $19 million in grant funds to organizations that provide free civil legal services to disadvantaged citizens. The Bar Foundation also supports research and public education programs throughout New Hampshire that inform students and the general public about the law and the courts. For more information, contact the NH Bar Foundation at (603) 224-6942 or visit

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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