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Bar News - April 18, 2008

2008 Robert E. Kirby Award Honors Charles J. Keefe


Charles J. Keefe

Attorney Charles J. Keefe was selected by a panel of judges from the District, Superior, Probate, Federal, and Supreme Courts to receive the New Hampshire Bar Foundation’s 2008 Robert E. Kirby Award. The Kirby Award, established in 1996 to honor the memory of Bob Kirby, recognizes lawyers, age 35 and younger, who exhibit "great skill, civility, and good humor" in the practice of law. The award will be presented to Attorney Keefe at the Bar Foundation’s Annual Dinner on May 8 at C.R. Sparks in Bedford.

"It is truly humbling to receive this honor in Bob Kirby’s name. It represents a standard of excellence as a lawyer and a person, and I am committed to spending my career trying to live up to it. I didn’t know Bob personally, but I have worked with many who did. He was a great lawyer, but a better person," said Chuck Keefe on hearing of his selection for the 2008 Robert E. Kirby Award.

"I recently heard Judge McAuliffe talk about how much Bob Kirby meant to him, and he also discussed some of the former winners of this award.  I consider myself very fortunate to receive the award and be included in such a class of New Hampshire lawyers."

Former recipients (1996-2007) include: John Kacavas, Mark Howard, Diane Quinlan, James Tenn, Jr., Hon. Joseph Laplante, John Pendleton, Jennifer Parent, Kelly Ayotte, Mary Tenn, Mary Ann Dempsey, and Joceline Champagne.

The nomination letters in support of Attorney Keefe came from individuals present at every stage of his career. Chuck began practicing law upon graduation from Boston University School of Law in 1999 at Nelson Kinder.

"As my mentee, Chuck impressed me with his enthusiasm, character, and determination to improve himself as a litigator. One day, I took him along with me to watch the closing arguments in a medical malpractice case that was being tried by Bruce Felmly, Ron Snow, and Peter Mosseau—three of the most outstanding trial advocates in our state bar. Chuck was like a kid at a baseball game and spoke excitedly about the arguments with me over lunch that day. It was apparent that he was eventually going to make his own mark in the courtroom," wrote Mark Attorri of Nelson, Kinder, Mosseau & Saturley, PC.

In 2001, Chuck joined the Hillsborough County Attorneys Office, where he successfully prosecuted the first criminal case in the nation charging someone with theft of a person’s image (State v. Nelson). Hillsborough County Attorney Marguerite L. Wageling also nominated Keefe for the Kirby Award, saying, "To be honest, it is hard to nominate someone for the Robert Kirby Award because I did not believe that I would ever meet someone whom I could hold in such high esteem. But, here I am today, making such a nomination."

From 2003-2007, Chuck worked for the Attorney General’s Office. "Based on his reputation for having a strong work ethic, a quick mind, and an easygoing manner, I requested that he be "cross-designated" as a special federal prosecutor," said Judge Joseph Laplante, US District Court (former First Assistant US Attorney).

Keefe says he owes his equable temperament to his father. "It’s the way he raised me. The tenser a situation, the more calm he becomes. It can be very useful as a trial lawyer." 

At the beginning of this year, Keefe was made a partner at Wilson, Bush, Durkin & Keefe, PC. The Nashua firm practices in the areas of criminal law, civil litigation, family law, trust, wills, and estates. Keefe’s practice centers on criminal law and he is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in New Hampshire, as well as in the United States First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston and the United States Supreme Court.

Keefe was the recipient of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Academic Performance on a Graduate Thesis for "How Then Shall We Live – An Analysis of the Irish Republican Army Good Friday Peace Agreement" while at Boston University. He chose the topic to learn more about his Irish ancestry while exploring a topic prevalent in the news at the time.

Keefe is co-chair of the Daniel Webster-Batchelder, American Inns of Court – an organization which seeks to promote civility and excellence in the New Hampshire legal community. He said he’s been truly lucky to work with great lawyers at every step of his career. If he could give his younger self some advice, he’d say, "Watch those great lawyers more closely."

"Chuck has many of the same excellent qualities exemplified by Bobby Kirby, and memorialized by the Kirby Award," wrote Judge Laplante.

NH Supreme Court Associate Justice Gary Hicks, concurs, "I heartily endorse Chuck’s nomination for the Kirby Award."

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