Bar News - October 5, 2007
Board Discusses Rule 170
At its monthly meeting on Sept. 20, the NHBA Board of Governors received an update on potential improvements to the Superior Court Rule 170 alternative dispute resolution process.
The NH Supreme Court late last month agreed to a request by NHBA President Eleanor Dahar to extend the comment period on the Rule 170 changes. The comment period, which ended Aug. 31, was extended to Oct. 1. Dahar and other NHBA officers, as well as representatives from the NH Trial Lawyers Association and the American College of Trial Lawyers, met with judicial branch officials on Sept. 10. (See article on page 23.)
The Court hopes to change the Rule 170 program to provide mediation or neutral evaluation in all civil cases throughout the state. The program, now based entirely on volunteers, is mandatory in four counties. An original proposal that would have allowed for compensation for mediators at market rates and would have mandated extensive pre-certification training for all participating mediators, is being reconsidered, principally due to comments by Bar members.
Dahar said that most of the comment on the Rule 170 changes did not begin until nearly the end of the pre-adoption comment period set by the Court, which indicates the possible need for an ongoing mechanism to monitor the Courtís rule-making process. The Courtís Rules Advisory Committee has become more active in recent years in reviewing and overhauling various court rules and it is difficult for individual practitioners to keep track of changes that might be of significance to them. Dahar encouraged board members to consider whether the Bar Association needs to assign a monitoring role to an existing committee or create a sub-committee of the Board of Governors to review rules proposals.
The Bar Association does have a representative on the Courtís Rules Advisory Committee, Jennifer Parent, but board members said that it would be desirable for a group of practitioners to review the output of the rule-making process (which would include the Supreme Courtís promulgation of rules after the work of the Advisory Committee has been completed) and alert the Bar to significant changes.
The Board also briefly discussed the public reaction and publicity to the Barís decision to redirect priorities in the law-related education program and withdraw from conducting competitions for the Mock Trial program. For the benefit of newer board members, Bar officers reviewed the rationale for the changes in the law-related education program. (See article by Eleanor Dahar on page 10.)
Russell Hilliard was reappointed to a second three-year term as one of three representatives of the NH Bar Association to the New England Bar Association. Hilliard, NHBA president in 2003 to 2004, also represents the Association as its Delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates.
Dahar also distributed a list of assignments for Board members who are being asked to serve as liaisons to each NHBA committee and section. It has been a recurrent theme of the Board in recent years that it must do a better job of being aware in order to conserve resources and coordinate the overall focus of the organization, activities and projects that various sections and committees undertake.
Distributed for discussion at next monthís BOG meeting was a series of proposed changes recommended by the Public Protection Fund Committee regarding the operation of the Public Protection Fund.