Bar News - June 9, 2006
Of Rocks, Rippers, Rhode Islanders and Lawyers
By: Richard Y. Uchida
Here’s an intriguing question: What do a rock, Jack the Ripper, Rhode Islanders and New Hampshire lawyers have in common?
They are all related to the camaraderie and fellowship that lawyers experience when they gather with one another. Let me explain.
The greatest gift I have enjoyed as bar president is the opportunity to meet lawyers not only from across our state, but from other states. From Nashua to Whitefield, from Keene to Portsmouth, I’ve traveled New Hampshire to spend time with colleagues—and I’ve also tried to make New Hampshire a presence at other states’ bar events—most notably in Maine and Rhode Island.
In one week recently, I visited the Rhode Island and the Grafton County Bars, then crisscrossed the southern half of the state in one evening to attend the New Hampshire Bar Foundation’s annual dinner to honor outgoing chair Paul Chant, as well as to attend the Rockingham County Bar annual dinner.
In Rhode Island, I spent time with the Rhode Island Bar and its president Phil Weinstein at the annual golf outing to benefit the state bar foundation. Phil has made it a goal to celebrate the value of lawyering. He has organized events and focused his communications strategy on the good work that lawyers do, and he has encouraged his bar to celebrate those achievements at gatherings, parties and meetings.
In Grafton, I heard a fascinating talk about the grisly murders by Jack the Ripper in Victorian England. It was presented by a New Hampshire professor who is a premiere “Ripper-ologist.” In Rockingham, I heard not only a thoughtful address about the value of our legal system in the 21st century by Chief Justice Broderick, but also witnessed the presentation of the “Loyal Order of the Rock” lifetime achievement awards to Portsmouth attorney Paul McEachern and Salem attorney Ralph Stein.
And as I did at the Bar Foundation dinner, at every event, I enjoyed an atmosphere of good cheer, camaraderie and good company. In every venue, I saw the deep respect and common ties that bind us as attorneys.
Too often it’s easy to avoid these events. Demands by clients, families, firm administrators and communities make it easy for lawyers to skip time with one another, and once we’ve been away from these events, the desire to return grows dim.
That’s a mistake.
If you’ve never been, or cannot remember attending, you would be surprised at the enjoyment you experience at such events, especially if you can get away for more than a couple of hours. You would also be surprised at the sense of pride and rejuvenation you experience. Spending time with people who have the same aspirations, professional challenges and experiences is valuable, refreshing and important to the preservation of a calling founded on civility and professionalism.
In that same spirit, I hope you will join me for all or part of our annual meeting at the Mountain View Grand Hotel in Whitefield from June 22-24. I promise each of you that it will be a rewarding and satisfying experience.
I have a confession to make: Jeannine McCoy, our executive director, will tell you that for years, I thought attendance at these meetings was a waste of time. I felt that since I spent all day with lawyers, why spend good money (especially since I was a solo practitioner) and time to be with lawyers beyond the end of the workday? Jeannine insisted that I go to the annual meeting, and I reluctantly trudged to it, complaining and rolling my eyes all the way there.
But in one weekend – a weekend with people I thought I knew as well as I ever wanted to – I learned the value of time and life with my colleagues. The good cheer, the sense of professionalism, the honor, dignity and respect for our profession that they all shared, shone brightly at my first annual meeting and at every one thereafter.
So join me. If you’ve never been to the annual meeting, try it. See if you experience the pride and joy that I’ve felt not only at our annual meetings, but at every gathering of lawyers. If you’ve gone once, but have dropped away, try again.
Please consider yourself personally invited. We value your presence and we think you will enjoy the sense of pride, camaraderie and professional satisfaction that we who have attended do. I think you will find your time with friends and colleagues very valuable – personally and professionally. I truly hope to see you there.