Bar News - February 9, 2007
Paul Moore Honored for Public Service
By: Anita S. Becker
Milford District Court Special Justice and Nashua practitioner Paul S. Moore has a reputation for passionately diving into community service headfirst. His natural leadership ability, selfless goodwill, determination, and infectious enthusiasm have led him in recent years to collect and send hundreds of shipments of supplies to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq; motivate the local bar to provide assistance to the local courts in a program that will become a statewide model; and involve lawyers and numerous others in a variety of local charitable efforts.
Moore is the recipient of the NH Bar Association’s 2007 Distinguished Service to the Public Award. The award will be presented on Thursday, Feb. 15 at the NHBA Midyear Meeting Honors & Awards luncheon.
A 1988 graduate of Northeastern University Law School, Moore was admitted to the NH Bar the same year. He began his legal career with the Nashua law firm of Smith-Weiss, Connor & Wilder, and in 1992 opened his own Nashua practice. He was appointed to the District Court in 2002.
Recruits for Corporate Challenge Ski Race
A US Army veteran disabled in a parachuting accident while stationed in Korea, Moore spent 18 months in a military hospital for a spinal injury and was medically discharged. Back home in New Hampshire, he began participating in the Disabled Veterans Ski Program, which led him into becoming involved in the New England Handicapped Sports Association (NEHS). The Association runs an annual Corporate Challenge ski race at Mount Sunapee as a fundraiser. Moore single-handedly recruited law firms and judges to create a legal division that now provides 60 percent of the team sponsors and fund-raising participants to the race. “You’ve got a mountain full of lawyers skiing around and everyone there is happy to see us,” says Moore light-heartedly about the positive impact his fellow Bar members have had on the race and the disabled adults and children the adaptive recreational sports of the Association benefits. “This is not only good for the community, it is good for the image of lawyers.”
Courthouse Help Desk
Moore has also successfully rallied the greater Nashua legal community to answer the call for improvement in the justice system for New Hampshire citizens by spearheading a volunteer program to ease the administrative traffic at the Hillsborough-South Superior Court clerk’s and marital master clerk’s offices. Moore and colleagues Robert Bartis and Steven Levesque, also Nashua attorneys, established a courthouse “help-desk” last year where 18 lawyer volunteers, on a rotating basis each Wednesday, assist the public by answering routine administrative questions and checking filing paperwork to ensure that it is filled out correctly, that there is the right number of copies, and that it is going to the appropriate places. The volunteers do not provide legal advice. “We decided the court needed a help desk to streamline the situation and alleviate the logjams at the clerks’ offices.” The effort was operated out of Moore’s office for about a year and a half, and as of last month was taken over by the law office of Nashua attorney Kathleen M. Earnshaw.
The NH Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission may study the program as a model for a “legal triage” concept for other courthouses. “Hopefully, we can take Paul’s idea and push it to the next level,” says Attorney Richard Uchida, of Hebert & Uchida in Concord, and a member of the commission. Uchida, a past NH Bar Association president, met Moore during an NHBA retreat held at Waterville Valley two years ago to brainstorm how to create a more valuable bar. “We asked participants what they would do to commit. Paul and Bob volunteered to set up a help desk and much to their credit they followed up on it....It would have been easy to quit when he ran into the [court system’s] bureaucratic approval process but Paul was the dogged leader and continued to push and cajole until it became a reality.”
As if these and other projects—including assisting veterans, church and children’s organizations pro bono—are not enough, Moore and his sister, Carole Moore Biggio, are the engines behind “Moore-Mart”—a non-profit, all-volunteer effort that provides some of the comforts of home to troops deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, many of whom do not have access to the amenities provided at larger bases. The two began sending care packages to their deployed brother Staff Sgt. Brian Moore and his fellow NH Army National Guard soldiers in Afghanistan. Although their brother and his unit are back in the United States, two years later Moore and his sister are still organizing dozens of volunteer packers and shippers, gathering supplies and financing, and managing the daily operations of the Moore-Mart operation to send free care packages to about 500 deployed troops every six weeks. To date, Moore-Mart has shipped nearly 6,300 care packages.
Terry Biggio, Carole’s husband stated in a letter to the NHBA award committee: “As soldiers began to respond to this consistent effort they began to ask for specific, very basic items that were not available to them at their locations. Paul repeatedly has shopped and financed the purchase of anything the soldiers needed as well as anything that the collections were lacking. When the flow of gifts began to slow, Paul supplemented the shipments. The soldiers began referring to his efforts as ‘Moore-Mart’ because he had ‘more supplies than Wal-Mart.’”
Help Those Who Help OthersThe Moore-Mart operation has snowballed so much that Paul Moore is seeking the assistance of local businesses, civic organizations and other law firms to assist with funding, administrative help, and a larger, more-suitable packing and shipping space. To volunteer to help or for more information, contact Moore at 603-881-7773, e-mail Paul@MooreMart.org, or go to www.MooreMart.org.
In addition to the time and money Moore and his sister have invested in the project, he has donated the use of his staff’s time and the conference room in his small law office suite to be Moore-Mart’s “World Headquarters.” The room is crammed from floor to ceiling with personal hygiene items, single-serve comfort foods, school supplies, desert-colored logo t-shirts, underwear and socks, pocket-size Bibles, and letters and cards of support from local schools and civic groups. A map on one wall pin-points where in the world all these supplies are going, the rest of the walls are obscured by messages, photos, and cards of thanks from the hundreds of troops and school children in Afghanistan and Iraq receiving generous care packages from Moore-Mart. There is even a thank-you letter from the President of the United States for the work Moore and his sister have done. “[The soldiers] especially respond to the cards and letters from the community. We make sure there are some in every package,” says Moore. “Whatever their situation is, when they open that box and look inside they know ‘someone cares about me.’ I think that’s the way it should be.”
Moore tries to volunteer to be on at least one Bar committee each year, either for the NH Bar or the Nashua Bar, and has served on hearings panels for the Attorney Discipline Office for the past three years. His firm has a strong pro bono commitment and takes at least one pro bono case each year.
Moore says that public service is a family tradition. “My parents were big promoters of giving back to the community.” His father was in the military and Moore, who is fourth-generation military, grew up in Alaska and Litchfield, NH. He credits his family and law office staff with providing the support and encouragement to help others on the scale that he does. “If I couldn’t count on them, I couldn’t do it. I could never do this alone.” He carries on the tradition of giving back with his own children and encourages them to be involved in charitable efforts, including Moore-Mart. “I want my children to understand the importance of community service.”
What motivates Paul Moore—whom Uchida describes as “an unassuming guy when you meet him, but you soon find out he is a bundle of energy and has determination written all over him”—is a need to pass on goodwill that he himself has received over the years. “The main event in my life was my accident. I am grateful for all the people who stood by me, the doctors who took an interest in me, and the many others who supported me,” says Moore. “This is my opportunity to pass that goodwill on.” He says in the 18 months he spent rehabilitating in a military hospital—six months of it in a body cast—he met other patients there who were in similar accidents but could no longer walk. Although he had rods in his back and braces on his legs, Moore felt blessed that he could still move. “That experience had a profound impact on me,” says Moore. “I realized that if you can get up in the morning and walk, it will be a great day.”