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Bar News - October 20, 2006


Bar Foundation News: Noblesse Oblige

By:

A Challenge to Donors:   Now is the Time

As lawyers, we know that “time” is important. It takes “time” to understand our clients’ concerns and “time” to craft strategies to help achieve their legal goals. So too, “time” is critically important to the New Hampshire Bar Foundation and its mission of ensuring meaningful access to the justice system.  

 

The New Hampshire Bar Foundation is asking every lawyer in New Hampshire to make a cash donation at least equal to two-billable hours during its annual appeal in November. Two hours worth of “time” from a single attorney is an infinitesimal fraction of the funds the Bar Foundation needs to continue its work; but collectively, the impact of two-billable hours from every lawyer is great. 

 

Seems like a great idea. But, are you wondering what exactly does the New Hampshire Bar Foundation do? The Bar Foundation is the only charitable foundation in New Hampshire solely dedicated to ensuring equal access to justice for all residents. Real access to justice often requires the assistance of an attorney. Grants from the Bar Foundation support organizations that provide free or low-cost civil legal advice, representation, and advocacy to our most vulnerable and disadvantaged residents. Clients who could not otherwise afford a lawyer’s “time” are able to secure counsel and tangible access to justice through programs funded by the Bar Foundation. In addition, the Bar Foundation is a strong supporter of law-related educational programs for students, service providers, the legislature, the legal community, and the public-at-large. Our high schools enthusiastically participate in Mock Trial and We the People programs, both funded by the Foundation.

           

As a Board member and Chair of the Development Committee, I have seen the good work of the New Hampshire Bar Foundation, as well as the very real need for your continued support.  In an era when there exists so much cynicism about the law and lawyers, the work of the New Hampshire Bar Foundation has never been more important.  Your contribution will help the New Hampshire Bar Foundation achieve its goal — justice understood by and available to all people in New Hampshire. 

 

Now is the “time” for you to help. 

 

 

If Not Us, Then Who?

by Hon. Philip S. Hollman

 

In the final analysis, our system of law and justice is only as effective as the respect it begets from our citizens.  To be sure, without a high regard for the system, a person would be less inclined to obey its rules.  Similarly, without a meaningful opportunity to participate in the system, a person would have less regard for its efficacy and legal mandates. Moreover, without a basic understanding of how the system works so as to protect rights and provide remedies to redress wrongs, a person cannot fully appreciate and therefore respect the fact that our justice system is the best humankind has ever devised.

 

By administering the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts Program and by providing monetary grants to various legal service organizations throughout this state, the Foundation goes a long way in enabling financially disadvantaged people here to obtain lawyers and therefore meaningfully participate in civil cases. In addition, the Foundation is the primary source of funding for law related education programs in the primary and secondary schools of our state.

           

The lion’s share of the funds administered by the Foundation is derived from the IOLTA program. For its 2007 fiscal year, the Foundation made fourteen IOLTA grants totaling $1,730,000. Eleven of these grants totaling $1,668,550 have been awarded to organizations providing legal services in civil matters to financially disadvantaged people throughout the state. The three remaining grants of the fourteen, totaling $61,450, have been awarded to programs that provide education to the public about our legal system, its courts, and other law related matters.

 

Besides administering funds received through the IOLTA Program, the Foundation raises money for its charitable purposes directly from individual donors. In essence, the purpose of this fundraising is to promote equal access to justice for all citizens of our state regardless of financial circumstances, to enhance the betterment of New Hampshire’s legal system, and to increase the understanding by the public of our justice system and its operation.

 

Because the Foundation’s annual appeal is about to begin, I want to discuss it here in greater detail.  As a result of its annual appeal for the 2006 fiscal year, the Foundation granted a total of about $22,000 to 10 different programs. Typically, funds from the annual campaign provide seed money for innovative programs or immediate pressing needs relating to a large number of people.

 

It is of course the lawyers and judges of the New Hampshire legal community who constitute the primary potential contributors to the Bar Foundation’s annual fundraising appeal. The history of the legal community’s gift giving in this appeal has been less than stellar. There has never been a year when more than ten percent of the Bar has donated to the annual drive. My purpose here is not to criticize the Bar for an inadequate participation or to make light of the very generous contributions which various members of the Bar have made to our annual appeals. Rather, my objective is to describe what the directors of the Bar Foundation will be doing this year to better explain the purpose and worthiness of the annual appeal and thereby hopefully generate a greater interest in donating to it.

           

Last summer, the Foundation’s board of directors spent a lot of time modernizing the structure of the upcoming annual appeal. The purpose of this modernization is essentially twofold: (1) to better educate the legal community about the purposes of the appeal and (2) to substantially increase donor participation and raise more money so as to better fulfill the Foundation’s important objectives. Toward this end, the Foundation’s governing body intends to make greater use of media resources, speaking engagements, personal meetings with potential donors, telephone calls and direct mailings. Additionally, individual board members will play a greater role than ever before in the solicitation effort and will by their own contributions set a meaningful example for other members of the Bar to follow.

           

By making the Bar Foundation an important priority in their charitable gift giving, Bar members will be taking an important step toward enhancing the public’s respect for our legal system, toward assuring equal access to justice in civil matters for all of New Hampshire’s citizens, and toward increasing the public’s knowledge and understanding of the justice system in which we work. In this instance more than any other, if not us, then who?

 

The New Hampshire Bar Foundation – Our Value Proposition

by Racheal Stuart, Chair, Program Committee

 

In 1999 the Harvard Business Review published an article by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer entitled “Philanthropy’s New Agenda: Creating Value.” In this seminal paper, perhaps more relevant today than ever, the authors challenge foundations to be more than “mere conduits for charitable giving” and to consider more carefully the ways in which we can provide leadership for greater impact and social change. 

 

Porter and Kramer argue that foundations have an “obligation to create value,” and suggest four approaches with successively greater degrees of leverage: 1) Selecting the best grantees (about a 1:1 leverage factor); 2) Attracting other foundations and donors with less expertise in a particular content area (about a 5:1 leverage factor); 3) Improving the overall effectiveness of grantees (100:1 leverage); and 4) Building knowledge in a particular field (1000:1 leverage). Because of its unique position in New Hampshire’s philanthropic landscape, the New Hampshire Bar Foundation is particularly suited – and, one might argue, obliged – to be mindful and intentional about when and how we add value beyond serving as a conduit for charitable gifts.

 

The Foundation was formed in 1977 and made its first grant of $350 to the NH Law Library to purchase legal publications. Soon after, the Foundation raised funds for a new home for the NH Bar Association, and established the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program to support law-related education and legal services. Looking through the lens offered by Porter and Kramer, the Foundation utilized three of the four value-add approaches: selecting the best grantee (the NH Law Library), attracting other donors (individual lawyers and banks through the IOLTA program) and improving overall effectiveness of a grantee (by providing a new home for the Bar Association). Over the years the Foundation has continued to make use of these tactics:

 

Selecting the best grantees: Since 1977, the Foundation has provided grants totaling over $20 million to support direct legal services and law-related education. We are the only foundation in the State with this focus, and are uniquely suited to assess organizations and award grants in the field.

 

Attract other donors and funders: Twenty-four years ago a cooperative effort of the Bar Foundation and the Association resulted in the IOLTA program to inspire and encourage lawyers and financial institutions to support civil legal assistance and law-related education.  Through this ongoing cooperation and the generosity of the banks, we enjoy one of the most successful IOLTA programs in the country.

 

Improve overall effectiveness of grantees: Unlike many foundations, the Bar Foundation has historically provided ongoing operating support to key nonprofits delivering direct legal services and law-related education. While operating support alone does not guarantee good management and high impact delivery of services, it can help free organizations from some of the ongoing challenge of fundraising, and allow them to focus on their mission and programs. A number of years ago the Foundation took this one step further by initiating the Campaign for Legal Services, to provide additional fundraising support for several key IOLTA grantees. The Campaign has now been embedded directly with those organizations with bridge support to assist them in building their own fundraising capacity.

 

Building knowledge in the field: In 2005, the Foundation awarded a $30,000 grant to support the New Hampshire Citizen’s Commission on the State Courts, an ambitious effort to understand public perceptions about the courts and make recommendations for improvement. This early grant by the Foundation not only inspired other donors and funders to provide significant additional support, it helped lay the groundwork for a long-term, comprehensive effort to improve access to justice in the state.

 

So, our track record is good. Whether through design and strategy or instincts and good luck (I’d wager some of both), the Bar Foundation has had a unique and positive impact that has helped enable people in the State to participate fully in the justice system. I applaud the early leaders of the Foundation and the Association, and all those who have carried forward their vision of equal access to justice.

 

And I challenge all of us to commit to even greater impact and value-add for the Bar Foundation. We can and should do more. As the only Foundation in the state dedicated to legal services and law- related education, we have a distinctive competency, and an obligation to use that competency to go beyond grant-making…beyond selecting the best grantees. It is our obligation to inspire other foundations in New Hampshire to support legal services and education.  It is our obligation to continue to move beyond operating support for IOLTA grant recipients by both challenging and supporting them for even greater impact and efficiency. And it is our obligation to build knowledge and improve practice in the field – to “advance the science of jurisprudence and improve and promote the administration of justice” as so thoughtfully identified by our founders.

 

Lawyers’ Generosity Main Source of Funding

– David G. Snyder, Executive Director

 

Philanthropically-minded lawyers are the backbone of the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. We applaud all of you who have contributed to the Bar Foundation and all who will consider doing so this year and in the years to come.

 

Your contributions support many New Hampshire organizations that are striving to educate the public about the law and the courts, as well as those providing direct legal services, including NH Legal Assistance, Legal Advice and Referral Center, NH Pro Bono, NH Domestic Violence Coalition and NHBA DOVE Project, International Institute of New Hampshire, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Franklin Pierce Law Center Civil Practice Clinic, and many lawyers who benefit from the Bar Foundation’s Loan Forgiveness Program.

 

The Bar Foundation relies on the following support to fund our Grant Programs:

 

The Annual Fund - an unrestricted, general support fund that preserves Bar Foundation services and provides grants for a wide range of law-related programs.  

 

Memorial & Honor Gifts - designed to honor colleagues, family members or friends through a gift to the endowment or annual fund.

 

Justice Society Program - Major Gifts may be used to establish a ‘named fund’ or to make contributions to existing funds. Planned giving through your will is also an effective and convenient way to give.

 

Cy Pres Awards designated to the Bar Foundation’s endowment are an excellent way for you or your firm to make a significant charitable contribution.

 

In addition to our direct giving campaigns, the Foundation works diligently to increase the rates on the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts Program which funds our IOLTA Grants Program. Although the interest rates on IOLTA are determined by the banks, the Foundation positively influences those rates by maintaining strong professional relationships with all the banks.

 

You strengthen New Hampshire’s justice system with every contribution you make.

 

 

TESTIMONIALS

 

“The Bar Foundation’s support for the New Hampshire Citizens Commission on the State Courts, and for the King Lecture series on law and society, has been essential to our effort to improve the administration of justice through greater public understanding and access to the court system.”

– John T. Broderick Jr., Chief Justice

NH Supreme Court

 

“Homelessness averted, safety secured, fairness attained, dignity preserved. New Hampshire Bar Foundation’s IOLTA Grants play a key role in Pro Bono’s capacity to achieve these goals and more for low-income families and seniors through the coordination, leveraging and support of volunteer attorney resources. And, significantly, Bar Foundation backing gives Pro Bono the financial wherewithal to take on new challenges and create new volunteer solutions to the legal needs of people living in poverty.”

– Ginny Martin, Director

NH Bar Association Legal Services

 

“The generosity of the Bar Foundation enables students to pursue their goals of assisting the most needy New Hampshire citizens, provides eager and talented students to often under-funded agencies, and supports Pierce Law in our mission of providing legal services in the public interest.”

– Dean Hutson

Franklin Pierce Law Center

 

“At TD Banknorth we are committed to making a meaningful and positive contribution to individuals, families, businesses and communities within our marketplace.  We are proud of our history as an IOLTA Leadership Bank.”

– R. Scott Bacon, President and CEO

TD Banknorth

 

“The New Hampshire Bar Foundation has developed, over the years, into the premier charitable fundraising arm of the New Hampshire legal profession.”

– Attorney Charles DeGrandpre

McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton

 

“The forgivable loan provided by the NH Bar Foundation’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program eases the financial burden of my student loans and allows me to use my law degree and legal training to help low-income individuals who face unlawful evictions or are trying to free themselves from the burden of federal tax debt.  I am very appreciative of the Foundation’s assistance and the ability it gives me to help those who cannot afford representation but seek justice in our legal system.” 

– Joceline D. Champagne, Esq.

NH Pro Bono Referral Program

Low-Income Taxpayer Project

 

 

 

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