Bar News - June 9, 2006
Bar Foundation Annual Dinner Celebrates and Looks Ahead
By: Susan Noon
With grant funding reaching a record high of over $1.7 million this year, the New Hampshire Bar Foundation had much to celebrate at their Annual Dinner on May 11. More than 225 lawyers, bankers, donors, grant recipients, and friends gathered to recognize their colleagues and pay tribute to the significant accomplishments of the past year. Through its IOLTA and Justice Grants programs, the Foundation is currently supporting two dozen organizations that provide civil legal services for the disadvantaged or law-related public education programs for New Hampshire residents.
Outgoing chair Paul W. Chant expressed the board’s appreciation to outgoing board members James Gleason, Marilyn McNamara, Emily Rice, and Steven Scudder. A moment of silence was held for former board member, Bob Dunning, who passed away in March. Russell Hilliard, the incoming Bar Foundation Chair, thanked Paul for his leadership over the past three years and his nine years of board membership. New board members Douglas P. Hill, Wilbur A. Glahn, Bonnie J. Boulanger, Lisa Wellman-Ally, and Kathleen M. Robinson were welcomed.
Attorney Elliott Berry from New Hampshire Legal Assistance (NHLA) was honored with the Frank Rowe Kenison Award acknowledging his dedication and exceptional service to New Hampshire’s disadvantaged populations and the homeless during the past 30 years. Elliott’s parents flew in from Michigan and joined several dozen of Elliott’s colleagues to congratulate him.
Attorney Mary Ann Dempsey of Wiggin & Nourie received the Robert E. Kirby Award for her excellent advocacy, civility and good humor. The award goes to an attorney 35 years or under. Mary Ann’s parents were in attendance along with 40 of her colleagues from Wiggin & Nourie.
In lieu of a keynote speaker this year, David Snyder, the Foundation’s executive director, chose to invite presenters from NHLA and NH Bar Association’s Law-Related Education (NHBA LRE) program to demonstrate the value of the work being done through Foundation grants. NHLA attorney Kay Drought gave an overview of the process and impact of advocacy work that has improved access to dental care for well over 70,000 of New Hampshire’s poor and disabled children. NHLA was able to devote time and resources to this class action lawsuit, thanks, in part, to an operating grant from the NH Bar Foundation. A mother of four, Aimee Grant, spoke about the positive impact it had on her family and the value of having a lawyer involved in addressing a systemic problem that actually required reforming the Medicaid dental program.
Five Milford High School students — Nikki Caravella, Tom Parisi, Kristen Bohkan, Steve Place, and Kristen Green — representing this year’s team of state champions of “We the People and the Constitution” competition, restaged a portion of the competition so the legal community could gain greater understanding of the value o fthis Foundation-funded program. Accompanied by their teacher, Dave Alcox, and the Bar’s LRE coordinator, Valenda Morrissette, the students “had a great time” having dinner with 200 attorneys, bankers, and friends. When their time came to present the program, they gallantly fielded challenging questions on constitutional law from a judges’ panel consisting of Howard J. Zibel, General Counsel for the NH Supreme Court, Attorney Marilyn McNamara, director of Legal Advice and Referral Center, and Attorney Martha Van Oot of Orr & Reno. Dressed in coordinated dark suits, members of the student team offered interpretations and opinions on specific aspects of the Constitution in response to questions posed by the judges, clearly demonstrating their thorough examination and understanding of the landmark legal document.