Bar News - September 21, 2007
Debbie Bills Retires After 23 Years as Court’s Shepherd of Admittees
By: Beverly Rorick
Debbie Bills has been handling bar admission applications since “day one” of her employment 23 years ago. A graduate of St. Anselm College with a degree in Criminal Justice, she was hired by Supreme Court Chief Justice John W. King when she was only 24 years old and has lived through many historical changes at the Supreme Court. Now she is leaving to take up new responsibilities in the Manchester School System. She will be working with the English Language Learner’s Dept. at Central High School. There are many Sudanese, Somalis, Burundis and other foreign students who need special instruction in English
In commenting on Debbie’s departure, Supreme Court Clerk Eileen Fox said, “For 23 years, Debbie Bills has been the name associated with bar admissions in New Hampshire. She has shepherded literally thousands of lawyers through the process, from assisting them with forms, reassuring them on the day of the bar exam, and watching as they were sworn in. She has been reliable, knowledgeable, and caring. We will miss Debbie at the court, but we are pleased and excited for her and the opportunity that she has at Central High School.”
“In addition to Judge King, I have worked for two other chief justices—David Brock and current chief John Broderick,” said Debbie. And I’ve worked with three Supreme Court Clerks of Court—Ralph Wood, Howard Zibel and Eileen Fox.”
Bills is a highly-organized person and a skilled communicator, qualities appreciated not only by those who work with her, but by the bar applicants she has helped over the years. After she processes and screens each application, it is sent on to the Supreme Court Character and Fitness Committee.
“Unfortunately, it’s become such a big job that many applicants don’t get their character and fitness reports until after their bar admissions—even with Clerk David Peck handling the admission-by-motion applications now,” said Bills. The simple fact is that because of budget constraints the Court has not been able to keep up with the greater volume of work by adding more personnel.
Helping to conduct the bar exam twice a year is also part of Bills’ job. “It’s an incredible amount of work,” she said. “We need one whole day just to set up—and then the exam takes two days. I work with the proctors to get it all done.”
In years past the bar exams were held at the Supreme Court, but now with the greater number of applicants, it takes place at the Legislative Office Building in Concord. “And we sometimes use the Holiday Inn if the legislature is in session.”
Bills says that all the people she’s worked with have been “just great” and that they are, “a hard-working bunch of people—very dedicated.”
“And I’d like to mention Anna O’Neill [Membership Coordinator] at the Bar Association, too. She’s been a tremendous help through the years,” said Bills.
Debbie has one son, Andy, who is a student at UNH. I go to a lot of UNH games—hockey, baseball, basketball,” she said. She also likes to travel and has been to Ireland three times, the last time with both her mother and her son for company. Her mother’s heritage is Polish, however, and she and her mother are planning a trip to Poland in two years.
“I am looking forward to my new position,” said Debbie. “It will be something entirely different for me. But although I’m looking forward to helping foreign students adjust to our country and state, I’ll miss my job and the people at the Court,” said Bills. “And I hope people will stay in touch.”
“My days at the Supreme Court have been full and interesting—every one of them. I haven’t looked at the clock once in 23 years….”
To keep in touch with Debbie after Sept. 28, you may call her at 668-5657 or e-mail her at email@example.com.