Bar News - March 7, 2008
Preliminary Operational Survey Results Are In
By: Eleanor Wm. Dahar
This month, the Board of Governors received the preliminary summary of the results of the Operational Survey conducted by the ABA Division for Bar Services. Elizabeth Derrico, Associate Director of ABA Division for Bar Services, attended our February Board meeting to discuss the preliminary findings of the survey team.
You will remember that the Board of Governors and I asked for this Operational Survey to review our Bar Association programs, resources, activities, sections, staff and member services in order to provide us with a current assessment of the organization as well as to provide strategic and administrative recommendations to guide the Bar for future operation.
Previously, there have been articles addressing the concerns of our membership and state bars nationwide such as remaining relevant to members, continuing to serve the need of the public, providing and maintaining services and benefits for members, with current staff and financial resources. Consistently, the Board is faced with decisions of whether to continue all current Bar programs and services in the future amidst the increasing strains on resources and staff. Although, this struggle will never end, staff, resources and efforts may be reviewed and streamlined for better efficiency and impact. This was the purpose of the Operations Survey.
As I have been told often at the national level, the New Hampshire Bar is a “great Bar Association” with leadership that “thinks about values and vision” and is on the “cutting edge.” Elizabeth Derrico said the same things in her presentation to the Board. Further, our delivery of legal services to the poor is a testament of significant magnitude to the New Hampshire Bar.
The survey pointed out strong features of our Bar. The New Hampshire Bar Association is the only state bar in the country that publishes a bi-monthly newsletter in addition to a quarterly bar journal and a weekly e-newsletter. There are not many bar associations that hold an annual and a midyear meeting with the level of activity at each that we have. The insurance program, the CLE programs and the Pro Bono Programs are models for other state bars.
Dues are always a heated subject. New Hampshire Bar dues are $270.00 per year. They are average for state bar associations of similar size. When the mandatory Supreme Court fees for the Attorney Discipline Office and the Public Protection Fund are added however, the combined amount of dues and fees is $510 per year, which is high when compared to other states. The national average for mandatory costs to practice is $286.00 per year, and in New England it is $371.00. (These figures do not reflect the dues paid by attorneys in voluntary bar associations.)
The Bar staff, the Finance Committee and the Board of Governors have been and continue to be conscientious and attentive in the yearly budget analysis. Again, we will be faced with decisions of whether to increase Bar dues or reduce and/or eliminate certain programs and/or services.
Once the Final Operational Survey Report is published with the recommendations, we will provide you with the specific details. While some of the recommendations will be simple for the Association to implement through policy or procedure changes, others may be more difficult since they will focus on future decisions, needs, communication and strategies. The recommendations are intended to benefit the Association as it goes forward with its mission to serve the members, the public and the judiciary.
Good News for Hillsborough North
Once again Past President Rich McNamara and Hillsborough County Sheriff Jim Hardy have come through for us. The sheriff is working to arrange for the expedited attorney screening process now in operation at Hillsborough County Superior Court South courthouse to be expanded to Hillsborough County Superior Court North.
At the February 21 meeting, the Board of Governors approved funding for card-reading equipment used in Nashua for the Security Access Pilot Project to be installed at Hillsborough County North. The Pilot Program has been a great success in Nashua. (More information will be reported in Bar News, on the Web site and in the NHBA e-Bulletin when details are available.)
Thanks again to Rich McNamara and Sheriff Hardy!