Bar News - October 6, 2006
A Lawyer’s Life Kelleigh Domaingue: Diving Headfirst into Life
By: Beverly Rorick
Kelleigh Domaingue, a 28-year-old attorney with the Manchester firm of Devine and Nyquist, has only been a member of the NH Bar since 2004, but she already has a list of accomplishments and involvements almost too long to be believed. Her life in high gear began in childhood—and she has always been one to look forward. “My parents told us kids [Domaingue has a younger brother and sister] that we could be anything we wanted to be and they taught us to be self-sufficient at a very young age. I have known I wanted to be an attorney since I was five years old.”
Domaingue is the epitome of the young up-and-comer. In her professional life, she has begun to make her mark, recently arguing her first case before the NH Supreme Court—and winning it. “I also just sat second chair to Lee Nyquist on a jury trial—which we won,” she told Bar News.
Just as active in community affairs as she is in her professional life, Domaingue sits on the Manchester School Board and is an arts commissioner for the city of Manchester. She is also vice president of the Southern NH Women’s Business Network, which she co-founded with friend Michelle Strasburger.
But in spite of her crowded days, Domaingue said laughingly that her philosophy comes from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in awhile, you might miss it.”
Domaingue tries to “stop to look around,” although she has always driven herself to excel. She attended public schools in Manchester, graduating from Memorial High School. “I wrote for the school newspaper and was on the debate team,” she said. In fact, her debate teacher, Mr. Benson, was one of her role models, a list that began with her parents, Jacqueline and Ed Domaingue, and now includes Kevin Devine and Lee Nyquist—”and a terrific group of friends.”
“I also edited Memorial’s foreign language newspaper,” she continued. “I speak fluent French—but very bad Spanish,” she said with a smile. “And I’ve always been a bookworm, too. My dad had a huge library, which included the classics, and he told us we could read any book we were able to read. So I often read things beyond my grade level—even some things my teachers might have thought inappropriate! When I was in ninth grade I did a book report on Lady Chatterly’s Lover. My dad got a call about that—but he didn’t change his rule.”
Following high school, Domaingue attended Boston College, majoring in political science, with concentrations in music and linguistics. An honors student, she made time to be a member of the debate and fencing teams—and to found the Political Science Association.
For a year between college and law school, Domaingue worked as a paralegal for Kevin Devine. During her law school years—which were spent first at the University of Richmond and then at Vermont Law School, from which she graduated in 2004—she interned at several other law firms. While at the University of Richmond she was Barnett Moot Court Champion and wrote for the Law Review.
“Kevin [Devine] has been one of my biggest supporters along the way,” said Domaingue. “I spoke with him around the time I graduated; he didn’t ask me to work for him—he asked me to ‘come home.’” Domaingue paused for a moment. “And this is home. Kevin and Lee and Rick [Weinstein] have all been wonderful teachers and mentors.
“I love my work. I really care about the law and if I’m working in an area I’m unfamiliar with, I’m not afraid to ask people for help and use the resources around me. If I have a question about a case, sometimes I just pick up the Green Book and find out who specializes in that area of the law—and I’ll just call that person up and pick his or her brain.”
She thought for a moment. “You know, when you’re a young lawyer and you first go into court, you look around and you see the experienced lawyers and you think, ‘Oh, those are the real lawyers.’ It gets better as time passes and I am always amazed at how many lawyers there are out there who are willing to help you, if you just ask.”
Domaingue is a strong believer in networking and is involved in Bar activities. She’s a member of the Judicial Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution and is on the Bar’s Continuing Legal Education Committee. Believing that it’s important to connect with other law-related professional organizations, too, she belongs to the American Bar Association, the Manchester Bar Association, the NH Trial Lawyers Association and the Women’s Bar Association.
Domaingue has always loved music. In college she sang with the University Chorale and was principal flute for the University Wind Ensemble. She is currently planning a silent auction fund-raiser for the Manchester Philharmonic Orchestra. While not sitting with the orchestra at present, she plays several instruments: the flute, the piccolo, the clarinet, the baritone horn, the tuba and others.
“It all began with the flute,” she said, recalling an incident from her childhood. “I wanted to learn to play—but my dad said he wasn’t going to buy me a flute when I probably wouldn’t keep up with the lessons. Finally he said, ‘You write “I really want to play the flute 400 times” and then we’ll talk.’
“Well, I got up to about 40 times and began to cry. My mom came into the room and asked me what the matter was. When I explained, she took my hand with the pen still in it and guided me in writing the single sentence, ‘I want to play the flute 400 times.’ Needless to say, I got my flute—and I don’t think my dad’s ever been sorry. And I learned something special about creative thinking that day, too.”
But is it all work and no play for this young professional? No, she says. “I have my work, and I have my community involvement, true—but then I have things I do just for fun. I love to cook—and I’m a gourmet cook—and I’ve just learned to knit and play golf. I’m in several sports’ leagues, including a flag football league—and I go camping with friends. I’m up for pretty much anything that gets me outside. This winter I’m going to learn to ski….”
Asked about possible burn-out, Domaingue said, “When I start to feel overwhelmed, sometimes I just back off from everything and curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. But I enjoy diving headfirst into life!
“And my boyfriend David [Day] helps to keeps me grounded. He encourages me to reflect on my life and the meaning of success. He makes me exhale when I forget to!”
She may forget to breathe out once in awhile, but Domaingue believes she is on the right track as long as she remembers her father’s advice, given so many years ago: “The most important thing is to love what you do,” he said.
And she does—Domaingue loves it all.