Bar News - March 21, 2008
NHBA Board of Governors Candidates 2008-09 Election
Marilyn B. McNamara
Marilyn B. McNamara is a native of northern New York; she graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1971, worked in education and social services and then attended Pierce Law Center, graduating in 1977. Following graduation she spent a year at the Law Center, helping to establish the Family and Housing Clinic, then was in private practice in Lebanon for many years; she later moved her practice to Amherst, NH.
In 2001, she took on the role of Executive Director of the Legal Advice & Referral Center, located in Concord. (The Legal Advice & Referral Center is the state’s Legal Services Corporation-funded poverty law program, providing statewide legal information, advice and referral services in the areas of family, housing and benefits law.) McNamara has served three terms on the Board of Bar Governors and concurrent terms on the New Hampshire Bar Foundation; she has facilitated numerous CLE seminars over the course of her career, including Practical Skills. She has also served on the Professionalism Committee and Delivery of Legal Services Committee, as well as the Judicial Council and the Judicial Selection Commission.
She received the L. Jonathan Ross Award for Outstanding Commitment to Legal Services for the Poor in 1996. In addition to her legal work and service to the Bar, she sits on the board of Andy’s Summer Playhouse, an innovative theater program for children in Wilton. She is married to William Vargas and has two children, a son who is an attorney in Washington D.C., and a daughter in high school.
“These are uneasy times. The winds of change have been blowing lawyers around for some time, but it seems as if more than just the windows are rattling now—increased competition, a slowing economy, an overwhelmed court and an ever-present need for volunteerism push us, even as many lawyers see decreasing opportunities, conflicting demands on time and talent, less client loyalty and no relief from the 24-hour electronic tethers of cell phone, Internet and e-mail. And then there are the student loans—the hurricane of our profession.
I spent my first year after law school helping to establish a Family and Housing Law Clinic at Franklin Pierce Law Center (it no longer operates in that form). Then I went into private practice in Lebanon. I spent 24 years in small firms there, doing the things small firm lawyers do—taking on work to pay the bills, finding a niche that produced a fair stream of clients, volunteering time to my community and my profession, and raising a family. I have served on the Board of Governors several times over the past 30 years or so. I’ve sat on the Judicial Council, the Judicial Selection Commission, various committees of the Bar and assorted outside committees and commissions designed to study some aspect of the delivery of legal services to the public, rich or poor.
In 2001, I left private practice to become the Director of the Legal Advice and Referral Center. It’s a challenging job—we’re chronically underfunded, faced with rising costs for health insurance, occupancy, and technology—not much different from private practice, except now I get vacation and sick leave (when I have time to use it, that is) and I have a principal funder, the federal government, who pays its bill on time.
I’m running for vice-president because I believe the next ten years will define how our profession will survive (and it will survive) in this new era; I want to help guide us back to the founding principles of calling, expertise and public service while pushing us forward and into the public eye as trusted counselors, advocates for justice, guardians of the rule of law, and vital players in the world of regulation, business transactions and dispute resolution in all its forms.
I’m also running because I know that some members of the mandatory New Hampshire Bar Association report feeling disassociated. I can’t make everyone happy and grateful to be paying court assessments and bar dues, but maybe I can help a few members feel connected to one another and ultimately to the Bar Association.”
Jennifer L. Parent
Jennifer L. Parent is a director in the litigation department at McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton, Manchester. She focuses her practice in the areas of commercial litigation, employment litigation, and land use litigation and is a member of the firm’s Business Law, Employment Law, Land Use, and School Law Practice Groups. Parent is a cum laude graduate of Boston College and summa cum laude graduate of Suffolk University Law School. She is also the 2003 recipient of the Bar Foundation’s Robert E. Kirby Award and a 2007 40 Under Forty Honoree. A past President of the New Hampshire Women’s Bar Association, Parent is also a member of the Manchester Bar Association, the Nashua Bar Association, and the New Hampshire Association for Justice. In addition, she is a member of the American Bar Association.
“I am seeking the opportunity to serve as vice president of the New Hampshire Bar Association to make a positive difference for my colleagues in the Bar.
We all face enormous challenges in the practice of law. Technology continually transforms how we practice and our communications with others. We daily navigate the changes in the rules of practice. In the tradition of service in New Hampshire, we embark on the call to provide more pro bono services and volunteer time to alternative dispute resolution. At a time when demands have never been greater on us, I am hopeful that I can work to make a difference on behalf of a New Hampshire lawyer.
For the last four years, I have served on the Board of Governors as the Hillsborough North County Governor. Since 1996, I have served as a member of the New Lawyer's Committee, chairing the Committee for a year. I have been actively involved in the Bench and Bar Meet and Greet for newer lawyers, numerous outreach programs, and representation of the Bar's newer lawyers on a national level at the American Bar Association. I have had the opportunity to participate in the Bar Association's leadership conferences at Waterville Valley and Loon Mountain. The Bar Association plays an important role in addressing the challenges and opportunities of our profession and these conferences focused on involvement and vital leadership to meet the future of our profession.
During my service to the Bar Association, and through other aspects of my professional life with the NH Women's Bar Association and local bars, I have gained a better understanding of the issues facing lawyers and our profession. I am dedicated to our experienced members and to increasing the involvement of newer lawyers in our Bar. I am impressed by the many dedicated lawyers who have offered their time to the profession through the mentor program, Rule 170, and Bar Association sections and committees, and to the public through pro bono service, law related education programs, and community service. In 2003, I was honored to receive the Robert E. Kirby Award and daily look for ways to achieve the standards of collegiality and professionalism that the award promotes.
I look forward to the opportunity of serving as vice president of the New Hampshire Bar Association to meet the challenges and to enhance the opportunities we face in our profession. I am committed to working to preserve the best of the traditions of practicing law in New Hampshire and to serving better the needs of our members of the Bar Association and the communities in which we practice and live. I believe I can assist New Hampshire lawyers in these endeavors and hope you will consider supporting me for election.”
Peter E. Hutchins
Peter E. Hutchins is a 1983 JD graduate of Boston College Law School. He has been a member of the NH Bar since 1983 and is a shareholder at Wiggin & Nourie, P.A. in Manchester, with a practice centering in plaintiff personal injury litigation. He is a past president of the NHBA (2001-02), a member of the ABA, ATLA, NHTLA, the Manchester Bar and the Dartmouth Lawyers’ Association. He is also admitted to practice in the US District Court and the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Hutchins resides in Manchester and in Hampton, NH with his wife Kathy, a realtor/broker. He has one daughter, Jamie, a financial advisor to Merrill Lynch in Manchester. Hutchins enjoys golfing and officiates at high school basketball games.
“Since serving as your President six years ago, I have missed my work on the Board of Governors, and look forward to rejoining the Board as secretary.
I have always maintained philosophically that a primary focus of the Bar Association, particularly given its mandatory status, is to serve our membership, and to provide New Hampshire lawyers, regardless of the location, size or focus of their practices and professional lives, with the tools and resources necessary to maximize individual performance, success and quality of life. While we have important individual and institutional obligations both to the judicial system in which we work and to the public we serve, we must never lose sight of the fact that the Bar Association is its members, and with that comes the need for the institution of the Bar to serve those members. In my past years on the Board in various capacities, I have always given member service my priority – and I promise to continue to do so in the future as your Secretary.
Not only are we in difficult economic times, but the stress level on individual lawyers and their families seems to increase every year rather than ease. The Bar can and does provide substantial support to our members on economic and professional issues. The practice of law should not be economically and professionally unsatisfying, nor should it impose upon us stressors that are as unnecessary as they are unhealthy and life threatening.
Economically, as a Bar we can provide support to solo practitioners and small firms to help them work more efficiently and, as a result, more profitably. We can and do provide avenues for large firms to link with smaller firms to the mutual economic benefit of the lawyers and clients alike. Our insurance agency is one example of how the Bar is trying to help its members economically – by obtaining affordable professional liability coverage with as little hassle as possible. We should continue to explore new ways to help our members through a difficult economy – and seek your input as to how best the Bar can provide this assistance.
Professionally, we must continue to find ways to help New Hampshire lawyers hone their legal skills to better serve their clients and the public. Through our award winning CLE programs, Casemaker, mentoring, section and committee work and our unparalleled Web site and communications services, we perhaps offer more in the area of professional education and development than any other Bar Association. Through the work of a task force that I am currently chairing, the Board is exploring how, in the future, we can better utilize our resources and your talents to provide legal information and education to students and the adult population in New Hampshire. We hope to develop some exciting new partnerships in this area, and at the same time, provide our members with educational and marketing opportunities in their own communities and statewide.
I would also like to devote part of my time on the Board to exploring alternatives and/or improvements to the current system of attorney discipline. While it is critical that our profession continue to “police its own” to ensure adherence to our Code of Ethics, it is also important that we bear in mind that the purpose of attorney discipline is remedial and not punitive. To this end, alternatives to a “prosecutorial” model including early mediation and remediation should be explored.
I look forward to pursuing these and other important issues on your behalf as a member of the Board of Governors of our great Bar Association. I invite and urge you at any time to please call me with your concerns and ideas as to how your Bar can help increase the economic, professional and personal satisfaction of being a New Hampshire lawyer.”
Robert R. Howard
Robert R. Howard graduated from Boston University with a J.D. in 1969 and was admitted to the NH Bar in 1969; he has been the NHBA treasurer since 1993. He is also a member of the NHBA Finance Committee and the Technology Task Force; he has been a member of various NHBA sections and on faculty panels of a number of CLEs. He is a former Merrimack County governor and governor-at-large on the NHBA Board of Governors. He served nine years as a part-time district court judge and was the recipient of the NHBA President’s Award for Outstanding Professionalism in 1996. He co-teaches the Law Practice Management session of the required Practical Skills course offered semi-annually to new admittees.
“I have served with pleasure for some years as treasurer of the Bar Association. Tom Manter is the director of finance and provides the board with regular detailed reports. I review these with him and with the board Committee on Administration on a regular basis. The annual budget is developed by Tom and the Finance Committee, of which I am a member. My role in all of this is to watchdog the process, and serve as facilitator. My qualifications are my experience with Bar affairs, and my pleasure in participating in an association that does so much for me and other small law offices. Whether the fact that I am unopposed signifies approbation or apathy, I am pleased to serve for another year.”
Jaye Rancourt graduated from the University of Maine School of Law in 1999 and relocated to New Hampshire to begin her practice with the New Hampshire Public Defenders Office. She worked for the NH Public Defender’s Office until 2003 when she began practicing with Brennan Caron Lenehan & Iacopino in Manchester. She practices in the area of criminal defense and civil litigation. Jaye has served as the chairperson of the New Lawyers’ Committee of the New Hampshire Bar Association for three years. She has also served on the Professionalism Committee and the Law Related Education Committee. Jaye is the District Representative for New Hampshire and Massachusetts to the American Bar Association-Young Lawyers Division and also serves on the Affiliate Assistance Team for the ABA-YLD.
“The New Hampshire Bar Association is a great organization and I have been privileged to serve it as the chairperson of the New Lawyers’ Committee for the past three years. I would like to continue to serve the organization and it’s members through the Board of Governors. New lawyers, or young lawyers, as they are sometimes called, are the future of our bar organization and it’s continuing vitality. I have worked hard for the past few years to bring the voice of younger lawyers to the New Hampshire Bar Association and the Bar in general. Bringing new and younger lawyers together with more senior members of the bar to share concerns and visions for the future will strengthen and improve the New Hampshire Bar Association and the practice of law in New Hampshire.”
Alexander J. Walker, Jr.
Alexander J. Walker is a shareholder at Devine, Millimet & Branch in Manchester where he is presently serving as the firm’s President. He received his JD in 1992 from Northeastern University School of Law and joined the NH Bar that same year. He also holds a B.A. in English and Political Science, with honors, from the University of Massachusetts. Walker served for three years in the United States Marine Corps. He is on the board of directors for the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and on the board of trustees for the Palace Theatre. He lives in Manchester with his wife Lisa and his two children, Rose and Alexander.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to run for and, hopefully, serve a second term as a governor-at-large on the NHBA Board of Governors. I have enjoyed working with the NHBA leadership over the last several years to make the NHBA relevant and vital to all of its members and I look forward to continuing that service.
As New Hampshire lawyers, we have much to be grateful for – our high level of skill and competence, our professionalism and the civility we show towards one another every day. As the pressures of the ‘business of law’ continue to compete with the traditional notion of the ‘profession of law,’ however, we need to be extra vigilant to hold on to the things that make us unique as New Hampshire lawyers. I believe that the NHBA is the organization to make sure we protect the culture we have in New Hampshire while making sure we do not lose sight of where the profession is heading.
I hope my continued service on the Board of Governors will, in some small measure, help us achieve those goals. Thank you for your consideration.”
Dorcas J. Gordon
Belknap County Governor
Dorcas J. Gordon is a partner of the Laconia based law firm of Wescott, Millham & Dyer, LLP. She graduated with a BA in English from Boston College in 1998, and earned her JD degree at the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2003. She was admitted to the New Hampshire Bar and the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire in 2003. Attorney Gordon has served as the Belknap County Governor for the New Hampshire Bar Association since assuming a mid-term vacancy of the position in 2005. She lives in Bristol, NH where she is active in community affairs, including serving as vice chairman of the Town of Bristol’s Budget Committee and as a member of the Town’s Historic District Commission. Attorney Gordon maintains a general practice, serving clients in civil litigation, probate, estate planning and real estate matters.
“New Hampshire attorneys need a bar association that effectively serves the interests of its members and communicates the value of lawyers in our legal system. With pressures ranging from the erosion of long-standing practice areas by non-lawyers to the proliferation of pro se litigation in our courts, it is imperative that the Bar Association be an advocate for the fact that lawyers are efficient, affordable and ethical problem-solvers that are indispensable to the functioning of our legal system and our society. During my time on the Board, I have sought to convey this core message about the value of lawyers, as well as communicate the specific concerns of my Belknap County constituents. If elected, I will continue to advocate for my Belknap County constituents and for the value of lawyers.”
Christopher T. Meier
Carroll County Governor
Christopher T. Meier is an associate at Cooper Cargill Chant in North Conway. He is a 1998 graduate of the Boston University School of Law where he was a Paul J. Liacos Distinguished Scholar and served as Administrative Editor to the BU International Law Journal. He joined the Mass. Bar in 1998 and became a member of the NH Bar in 2005. Meier clerked for the justices of the Mass. Superior Court. His practice concentrates on the litigation of business and commercial disputes, with an emphasis on real estate, corporate compliance and commercial fraud. He represents clients in both state and federal courts throughout New England. Meier is a member of the Carroll County Bar Association and lives in North Conway with his wife Jenny and his daughter Jordan and enjoys skiing, cycling and hiking.
Victor W. Dahar, Jr.
Hillsborough North County Governor
Victor W. Dahar, Jr. is an attorney with Victor W. Dahar, P.A. in Manchester and practices in the areas of bankruptcy law, commercial litigation, personal injury, real estate law, family law and estate planning. He is a graduate of Fordham University and Franklin Pierce Law Center (JD degree, 1992). He joined the NH Bar in 1992 and was also admitted to practice in Massachusetts in 1993. In addition, he practices in the US District Court in both states. Dahar has been president of the Manchester Bar Association (2003-04), of which he is now a board member. He is also a member of the American Bar Association, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and the NH Estate Planning Council. In his community, he has been a member of the Manchester Rotary Club and a board member of New Horizons. He is also an active supporter of state and local charities.
“I became an active member of the Manchester Bar Association and was a past president because I always welcomed and looked forward to interaction with fellow attorneys.
In this constant and ever-changing legal profession, I feel it is important to be in tune and aware of both current and future issues that directly affect our ability as lawyers to practice law.
It is my belief that the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Board of Governors exists for many important reasons; however, the singular and most important one should be the representation of your interests and your concerns as a New Hampshire practicing attorney.
Lastly, being on the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Board of Governors is important to me in not only interacting with fellow attorneys, but in crossing the gap between the Association’s members and the public’s comprehension and understanding of the purpose and commitment of the New Hampshire Bar Association to both legal and public communities.”
Robert M. Shepard
Hillsborough South County Governor
Robert M. Shepard is a director and shareholder in the firm of Smith-Weiss, Shepard & Durmer, P.C. and vice-president of ABBA Title Company. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from St. Michael’s College in Winoski, VT in 1980 and a JD degree from Franklin Pierce Law Center in 1983. He was admitted to the New Hampshire Bar and to practice law before the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire that same year.
Shepard serves his community in the following ways: as a volunteer coach in the Nashua AAU Basketball Program; as a participant in the Pro Bono Referral System for the New Hampshire Bar Association; as legal counsel for Habitat for Humanity-Nashua and for the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter; he is a member of the board of directors for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Nashua (two years) and is a member of the Greater Nashua YMCA Board of Directors.
In past years, he has been a member of the Pelham Planning Board (for four years, including one year as chairperson), a member of the board of directors for the Greater Nashua Federal Credit Union (two Years), a member of the board of directors of the Nashua Soup Kitchen for four years and a teacher of paralegal courses at New Hampshire Technical College.
“This year will mark my 25th year as a member of the NH Bar. I have always appreciated the services that the Bar Association provides to its members. This is a good time for me to contribute some of my time back to the Bar. I hope that I can provide some insight as a member of a small law firm. I consider myself to have a ‘general practice’ of law, which appears to be a dying breed of lawyer. In addition, I am a New Hampshire native and I hope to be able to provide a local perspective to the Bar Association. Finally, I believe that I have a good knowledge of the lawyers in the Nashua area and that lawyers would feel free to speak to me about questions and concerns that could be addressed at the Bar Association level.”
Kenneth J. Barnes
Merrimack County Governor
(NOTE: Special election for one year to fill an unexpired term)
Kenneth J. Barnes was awarded his JD degree from Yale Law School in 1976 and joined the New York Bar. In 1992 he became a member of the NH Bar. He holds an MA from the Yale Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and also a Master’s in Philosophy; in addition, he earned a diploma in economics from King’s College, Cambridge University.
Barnes is a civil litigator at Upton Hatfield LLP in Concord, enjoying appellate and trial work in both state and federal courts. He has handled complex litigation and class actions, with a caseload ranging from employment law to family law, from business disputes to town environmental matters, from right-to-know law to children’s rights to professional licensing disputes. He is also an active mediator, under the courts’ Rule 170 program and has served on the New Hampshire Child Protection Task Force; the Citizens Review Panel for the Division of Children Youth & Families (DCYF); and on the Board of Directors of the Disabilities Rights Center.
Before entering private practice, he served in the United States Department of Justice and clerked for judges on the First Circuit Court of Appeals and the New Hampshire Supreme Court. He has worked as an advocate for impoverished families, children and the elderly in positions at Bronx Legal Services, New Hampshire Legal Assistance, and the New York City Commission on Human Rights.
“I have been active in the New Hampshire Bar Association – and appreciated all that it does for us members – for 17 years. I have served on the Committee on Professionalism (of which I am currently chair), the Ethics Committee, the Committee on Cooperation with the Courts, and the Legislation Committee, as well as the Federal Practice Section (currently chair) and the Labor and Employment Section. Through each of these perspectives, I have seen how dedicated our volunteer members can be, how hard the Bar staff works, and the myriad ways in which the Bar Association serves its members, the legal system, and the public. Aside from putting together the statewide Professionalism Day program earlier this month (and every year), the above committees have drafted a new set of Rules of Professional Conduct and a new set of Superior Court Rules (both presented to the Supreme Court), have recommended Bar Association positions on many pieces of proposed legislation that might affect bar members and the administration of justice, and provided CLEs, such as the Federal Practice Institute and an Overview of Electronic Discovery Issues. If any of you are not fully aware of the breadth and depth of the Association’s work, I recommend that you get involved in any aspect that interests you; you’ll be glad you did.
Last year, I was fortunate enough to be appointed to fill the unexpired term of the Merrimack County Governor, who had moved his law practice to a different county. I found myself thrust into a variety of important issues. For example, the Board worked with many bar members and the Supreme Court to maintain the successful volunteer component of the court system’s program of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
The Board also initiated a closer working relationship with its Sections, to ensure better communication and coordination. (Because our bar has grown so much over the last decade or two, it had become difficult for one group to know what another group was working on.) Along with Marilyn McNamara, I was asked to facilitate the initial meeting among the Section leaders and the Board of Governors. We have planned a series of regular meetings and formed a listserv to improve communications.
There is much more work still to be done, as the New Hampshire Bar Association continues its history of service to members, the courts and the public. Our Association is a national leader and model for other associations around the country, so we don’t need to make changes just for the sake of change. But we do have to remain conscious of ongoing developments in the world – both legal and otherwise – and keep our programs relevant and consistent with evolving standards of technology and quality. The practice of law is evolving, our clientele is changing, and the economic underpinnings of both lawyers and clients are becoming more challenging. I plan to take one step at a time with the Board of Governors to keep us ahead of the curve.”
Christopher T. Regan
Strafford County Governor
Christopher T. Regan is a graduate of Cornell University (A.B) and received his J.D. from Boston University in 1981. He came to New Hampshire to clerk for the Hon. William Batchelder at the New Hampshire Supreme Court. He worked for a 10-person law firm for four years, and now is toiling in the trenches as a solo or small firm practitioner, first in Dover and now in Durham. Regan was president of the Strafford County Bar Association in 2000-01 and is now Barrister in the Inns of Court. For the past 10 years, he has served as a lawyer/chair of the NH Compensation Appeals Board. Currently, he is moderator for the town of Durham.
“I am grateful to be given the opportunity to run for election in order to serve the lawyers of Strafford County and the rest of New Hampshire as Strafford County’s representative to the Board of Governors. I want to make sure that all lawyers in Strafford County have their voices heard as the Court and the Bar continue to transform themselves to face these challenging times. I also want to make sure that the Bar dues are spent wisely so that they benefit all members of the Bar. I welcome questions and suggestions from any members of the Bar.”
David N. Foley
Sullivan County Governor
“I have had the privilege of representing Sullivan County on the Board of Governor for the past two years and look forward to the opportunity to serve another term. I have practiced in Sullivan County for the past six years. After admission to the New Hampshire Bar in 1991, I joined the staff of the New Hampshire Public Defender, working in Dover and then Keene. In 1997 I joined Rob Howard in practice in Henniker, and came to the State of New Hampshire, Department of Health and Human Services, Claremont District Office in March 2002.
Serving on the Board of Governors has taught me a lot about the hard work that the New Hampshire Bar Association does to improve the quality of law practice for lawyers and clients. I welcome feedback from bar members in Sullivan County and throughout the state regarding the activities of the bar association and the needs of the profession.”
Russell F. Hilliard
American Bar Association House of Delegates
"I have been a member of the New Hampshire Bar since 1976, and have practiced with the firm of Upton & Hatfield, LLP since 1980. I have held numerous positions in the New Hampshire Bar Association, serving as its President in 2003-2004. I ask for your vote to continue to serve as the Delegate of the New Hampshire Bar Association to the American Bar Association House of Delegates.
During my tenure as an officer of this Association, I have had the privilege of attending many national meetings, representing the New Hampshire Bar, and I have come to learn of the important activity conducted by the American Bar Association as it affects practicing lawyers in New Hampshire. I will endeavor to continue the tradition of making known the perspectives and views, and looking out for the interests of, New Hampshire lawyers."