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Bar News - September 22, 2006

What Does the New Hampshire Bar Foundation Do?


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David G. Snyder

Could you answer that question? If you can’t, we’ll try to change that in the months ahead as we approach our 30th Anniversary. If you pay particular attention to articles in Bar News over the next several months you will learn about the only foundation in New Hampshire, among the 430 foundations in the state, dedicated to providing meaningful access to the justice system.


Back to the question, “What does the Bar Foundation do?” Imagine a place where anyone who needs a lawyer can get one, where every domestic violence victim is represented by a lawyer to ensure protection under the law from further abuse, where the elderly and disabled don’t have to choose between food and medicine, where children grow up knowing how the justice system works and believe it to be fair and accessible, a time when organizations serving the myriad groups of disadvantaged citizens are adequately funded, a time when every lawyer says, “Yes, I will do my part to make the New Hampshire justice system the best in the world.” The Bar Foundation imagines such a place and time and follows a strategic plan toward that end.


The Bar Foundation initiates and builds relationships with the legal community, the banks, corporations, and private citizens to encourage the kind of generous philanthropic giving that will be used to strengthen our system of justice. Our endowment, combined with the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts program, supports two annual grant programs. Two dozen or more nonprofit organizations receive funding every year from the Bar Foundation. In the last fiscal year, $1.8 million dollars was awarded, making the Bar Foundation one of the largest charitable organizations in the state.


The Bar Foundation helps to identify emerging civil legal needs by paying close attention to changing demographics, the economy, national data, and direct reports from many public service and state agencies. The Bar Foundation lends the expertise of its board and staff to facilitate discussion and collaboration in an effort to effectively respond to the changing needs of our citizens in a cohesive and efficient manner.


Bar Foundation Board member, Judge Phillip Hollman, said recently, “If people cannot access the justice system, they will have no respect for it.” Without respect for the justice system, people take matters into their own hands, often resulting in unintended or adverse outcomes. The Bar Foundation supports the kind of law-related education programs that reach directly into the classroom, seminars that connect with our elderly where they live and socialize, multilingual programs that teach immigrants about their rights and responsibilities, and programs that educate our citizens, educators, service providers, the legislature, the legal community, and even the judiciary.  


The Bar Foundation is the single largest supporter of direct legal services in the state. We provide substantial funding for the salaries of legal service attorneys so that many of the tens of thousands unable to afford standard legal fees can nevertheless get the advice, representation, or advocacy they need. So far, we’ve invested more than $20 million dollars and are likely to invest another $20 million in the next 10 years.


Thanks for listening. Look for more about the NH Bar Foundation in upcoming issues. Feel free to call me anytime at 603-715-3255 or email: Visit us online at


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