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Bar News - May 9, 2008

Board Receives Update on Unauthorized Practice Task Force


At its April 17, 2008, meeting the NHBA Board of Governors heard a preliminary report from the Unauthorized Practice of Law Task Force established last year.

Peter W. Heed, Cheshire County Attorney, and task force chair, provided a verbal report on the conclusions of the Unauthorized Practice of Law Task Force after nearly a year of study. The task force had been asked to research the need for a better definition of the practice of law and to make recommendations on potential steps to improve enforcement of the unauthorized practice statute.

After several months of meetings and an association wide survey (4,000 survey’s sent; 500 responses received) on the topic, Heed noted there is agreement on the need to better define the practice of law and to have an enforcement mechanism in place to address complaints. (Currently the Attorney General’s Office or the Bar Association can bring actions.) Also, the survey did not indicate a majority of members—except in the real estate practice area—believed that UPL was a significant consumer problem. And of those attorneys who did indicate that they were aware of consumers harmed by unlicensed individuals providing legal services, virtually none were willing to refer their clients to the Bar Association to provide testimonials on the issue.

Heed said the task force did not believe there was sufficient consensus to propose a remedy in the legislature or by court rule. Heed recommended that the task force not continue. The issues are not any clearer, are not any easier to address and attempts to do so are not likely to have any more measure of success than past efforts by the Association in this area. Heed was asked to submit a brief written report that can be published in Bar News to inform the membership of the work and recommendation of the Task Force.

The Board also:

– Appointed Charles Greenhalgh, of North Conway, to the Pro Bono Governing Board.

– Ratified a letter to congressional leaders by NHBA President Eleanor Dahar, signed by all the state bar presidents, endorsing a sufficient level of funding for the Legal Services Corporation. (See page 4 for letter). Two board members, Gretchen Witt and Marilyn McNamara abstained.

– Discussed specific policies regarding rentals to outside groups using the NHBA Seminar Room on the lower level. Joanne Hinnendael, CLE Director, reported on an organization’s request that the Board consider allowing the organization to rent the lower-level seminar room at the non-profit legal association rate of $100, rather than the other non-profit organizations rate of $250 they have been quoted, and to waive the certificate of insurance required. The Board agreed with the staff’s interpretation of the rental charge rate and denied the request to waive the insurance requirement.

– Heard from Assistant Executive Director Denice DeStefano, on behalf of William Mulvey, chair of the Dispute Resolution Committee suggesting certain changes to the procedures of the voluntary mediation process. The Board voted to refer the matter back to the Dispute Resolution Committee for further review.

– Received an update on the 2008-2009 NHBA budget process. (See related article)

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