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Bar News - June 22, 2007

The Bar Year in Review 2006-2007

Moving in:  Anne Breault, Joanne Hinnendael, and Priscilla LaMonica assembled shelves for the new CLE department.

The past year has seen many milestones and innovations put in place or launched. These program changes and events complement the initiatives discussed in NHBA President Richard McNamara’s column on page 4. 


Bar Center relocates. In June, the NHBA relocated from Pleasa nt Street to a third-floor suite at 2 Pillsbury Street. The new Bar Center, also housing the Bar Foundation, includes many more amenities for member use, including more conference rooms, small meeting rooms with telephones and internet access, and an improved member library. The location, one mile from Interstate 93 on Exit 2 in the south end of Concord, is an easier drive (no one needs to go through downtown) and there’s always PLENTY OF PARKING in the building lot.


Bar Center Seminar Room. In the fall, the Bar began holding most CLEs (except for programs larger than 80 attendees) and section and committee meetings in the lower-level seminar room. The seminar room allows the NHBA CLE program to save on hotel banquet room and food expenses, thus minimizing necessary tuition increases. Also, the Bar is making the seminar space available for rent to outside groups, with discounts for NHBA members and legal-related nonprofits. 


Member ID cards and photos. All active-status members received NHBA membership identification cards last year, and those with photos in the Web site member directory have photos on their cards. The cards will facilitate identification of members in the courts. Member photos also are being used to implement the security screening pilot program underway in Hillsborough County Superior Court south. (See page one article.) Over the past year, more than 1,000 photos were added to the NHBA member directory. More than 2,500 members (out of active membership of approximately 4,400) now have updated photos posted.  (Where is yours? See page 22 for information and deadlines on submitting photos.) The member ID cards will be issued yearly, in late summer or early fall.


Analysis, support of Court initiatives. The Supreme Court is going through an unprecedented effort at re-examining how the judicial branch is structured to deliver services in the 21st Century, and the Bar Association’s Board of Governors is actively involved in these discussions, both to encourage progress in meeting citizens’ needs, and also to ensure that the role of lawyers is appropriately valued in changes that are made. The Bar’s input is being shared with the Court in ongoing and regularly scheduled bench-bar meetings.


Growth of Sections.  More than 2,500 attorneys are now members of at least one NHBA section, out of slightly more than 4,000 active NHBA members. This represents significant growth in section membership, and reflects the response to the increasing value of section membership, both in the number and attendance at meetings, and participation in the listservs.


National Award for Pro Bono. ABA Standing Committee on Delivery of Legal Services presented the 2007 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access to the NHBA and the Pro Bono Referral Program for its leadership in promoting the concept of unbundled legal services. Also, the Pro Bono program presented its annual L. Jonathan Ross Award for Pro Bono service to Chief Justice John Broderick, in recognition of his significant commitment to recruitment of attorneys for Pro Bono work.


In May 2007, The New Hampshire Pro Bono Mediation Project, a partnership of the Family Division and the NHBA Pro Bono Referral Program, was launched. The project at the Laconia Family Court matches eligible low-income clients in mediated family disputes to Pro Bono attorneys offering discrete legal advice and agreement review, utilizing the unbundled services rules.


Lawyers Assistance Program. The NHBA Board of Governors petitioned the Supreme Court to create a professionally staffed Lawyers Assistance Program that will help lawyers and judges who are confronting mental health and substance abuse issues. The NHBA petition also proposed initial funding of the LAP by using a portion of the Public Protection Fund annual assessment. The actual assessment actually decreased, as the fund’s current balance and potential outstanding claims were considered sufficient.


Direct phone line for members. To make it easier for members to contact the Bar Center by phone, a new Member Hotline number was added. By calling 603-715-EASY (3279), members’ calls will be answered live (whenever possible) and on a priority basis. In the event that the receptionist is on another call, the “Easy” line has options tailored for the most-used member contacts at the Bar.


NHMCLE Compliance Process Improved. In collaboration with the NHBA, the NH Supreme Court Committee on Minimum Continuing Legal Education made several major changes this year, including updating its reporting system to ease the burden on attorneys subject to the ruling. Attorneys whose CLE attendance (as reported by the June 30, 2007 deadline) satisfies the annual requirement will receive a report and be asked to verify the accuracy of their course record. They will NOT be required to return the report, unless changes are necessary or credits are incomplete. In order to fund the added cost of instituting this new reporting system, the Court has assessed a $10 fee on all attorneys subject to the rule to fund the improved compliance process. The savings in lawyers’ administrative time to prepare a report, for those in compliance, is expected to outweigh the fee.


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