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Bar News - September 7, 2007

Board Prepares for New Bar Year


At its monthly meeting on Aug. 16, the NHBA Board of Governors was updated on changes in NHBA services and programs for the upcoming year, and participated in a discussion with John Hutson, dean of Franklin Pierce Law Center and co-chair of the NH Supreme Court’s Commission on the Status of the Legal Profession.


NHBA Executive Director Jeannine McCoy reviewed with board members a shift in Law-Related Education programming that was decided by the previous board and takes place this year. Following discussions on the budget and discussions with Bar leaders on long-range planning, the Board decided last year to continue core LRE programs such as, “A Lawyer and Judge in Every School,” and the “We the People – The Citizen and the Constitution.”


Schools choosing to participate in the Mock Trial competition will still use materials provided by the Bar Association, but the Bar will not stage the multi-school competitions at courthouses around the state next spring. The Board decided that the task of coordinating the competitions had come to dominate the LRE program, and was detracting from the impact of programs with a broader reach, such as the “A Lawyer and Judge in Every School” visits to schools at the beginning of May.


McCoy related that some individuals who work with the schools’ Mock Trial teams are discussing staging competitions between schools. She said that the NHBA will cooperate and assist those who might want to stage the competitions. The NHBA Web site will also provide a variety of materials for schools to prepare for and participate in Mock Trial competitions, either within a classroom or between schools.


In another area, McCoy said that the Bar is carrying through a directive from the Board to change policies regarding the number of section meetings that are eligible for NHMCLE credit. In recent years, the number of section meetings where NHMCLE credit was offered has risen dramatically, resulting in an unanticipated increase in staff time and administrative work devoted to sections. Starting this year, a fee will be charged for the for-credit section meetings.  


NHBA President Eleanor Dahar spoke with the Board about an increased role for Board members to serve as liaisons with each of the committees and sections, to ensure that the Board is more fully informed about their activities and needs. A sign-up form was passed around for Board members to suggest their preferences for committees and sections to which they might be matched.


The Board also reviewed a recent memo submitted by former NHBA President Bruce Felmly suggesting revisions to a proposed revamping of the Superior Court Rule 170 alternative dispute resolution program that would preserve volunteer participation and lessen the certification requirements for experienced mediators and neutrals. Since the proposal was presented without sufficient time for review, the board decided to further discuss Rule 170 changes at its September meeting.


The Board also discussed potential agenda items for an upcoming “bench-bar” meeting with members of the Superior Court, chiefly the shortage of judicial resources due to recent retirements and the expansion of the Family Division.


John D. Hutson reviewed the evolution of the Supreme Court’s Commission on the Status of the Legal Profession’s charge from a relatively narrow focus on the well-being of lawyers to a broader charge involving ways that the legal profession could assist in enhancing equal access to justice by all segments of NH society. Hutson said the commission’s report (45 page PDF) made a broad number of recommendations, some of which were “pie-in-the-sky” and he encouraged the Board to closely review the report and select those recommendations it felt were the most important and the most achievable and provide input to the Supreme Court.


Hutson said the Board’s input on priorities would be valued by the Court. “Choose those areas where we can really do something about it,” he said.


In the business portion of the agenda, the Board approved reappointments for the following members of the Pro Bono Governing Board: James Carroll, Beth Davis, Christine Rockefeller, and Catherine Shanelaris.  




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