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Bar News - November 17, 2006

In Memoriam: Joseph A. Millimet



Joseph A. Millimet

 Joseph A. Millimet
Joseph A. Millimet

, founding partner of the law firm Devine Millimet in Manchester, and a former NHBA president (1962-63), died Nov. 3 at the age of 92. He leaves a rich legacy of commitment to excellence in the practice of law, service to his community, and leadership and friendship among those with whom he practiced.


He received his A.B. from Dartmouth College in 1936 and his LL.B. from Yale Law School in 1939 and was admitted to the New Hampshire Bar that same year. He began practicing as the eighth lawyer in what was then the largest firm in New Hampshire: Demond, Sulloway, Piper and Jones in Concord. 


In 1941 he joined the Board of War Communications and from 1942 to 1945 served as an anti-submarine officer in the U.S. Coast Guard.  Returning to practice in 1945, he was employed by Maurice Devine, and two years later the two founded Devine and Millimet.  At that time, the firm was almost exclusively engaged in litigation.  Today the law firm has evolved into a full-service law firm, one of the largest firms north of Boston, with four offices and over 80 practicing attorneys.


Millimet practiced for more than 50 years providing legal advice to the New Hampshire business community.  He served as chair of the Commission to Revise the New Hampshire Constitution (1964, 1974 and 1984); as a member of the New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners (1953-60); and as commissioner to the National Conference of Uniform State Laws (1965-1973).  He was inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1969.


As counsel to Governor John King on legislative matters, Millimet was instrumental in reforming the tax structure of the state by instituting the business profits tax and drafting the landmark legislation, that created the first state lottery in the United States. He also served a chair of the state Democratic Party and as Democratic National Committeeman at the explosive 1968 Chicago Convention.


In 1991, he received his third award from the New Hampshire Bar Association for “his dedication to the law, the public and the profession” and he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of New Hampshire in 1992. 


In a 1997 interview for a New Hampshire Editions article, he recalled one of the biggest cases he had ever handled, an anti-trust suit against IBM on behalf of the Sanders company which pitted him against some of the biggest firms in California.  IBM settled the case, an outcome Millimet considered a strong victory over the giant corporation.  The article concludes: “The axiom that ‘hard cases make bad law’ is one to which Millimet takes exception.  ‘Hard cases make THE law,” he insists. ‘When they are well tried.’” 


He retired from the practice of law in 1994 at the age of 80, but continued his involvement and presence at the firm.


Speaking on behalf of Devine Millimet, firm President Alexander Walker said, “The firm mourns the loss of one of its founding fathers and [its] patriarch….The firm and the legal profession has lost one of its brightest stars.”


Millimet is survived by his three daughters and by four grandsons.


Charities for donations in memory of Millimet are the National Parkinson Foundation, the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Salvation Army in Manchester which are supporting research into this disease.


On behalf of our colleague Joseph A. Millimet, the New Hampshire Bar Association’s  Board of Governors has contributed to the New Hampshire Bar Foundation, 2 Pillsbury Street, Concord, NH 03301.


If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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