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Bar News - May 23, 2008

President’s Perspective: Pro Bono Service- Needs Your Attention!


As my year as Bar President winds down, I think of all of the subjects I should have written about to make sure that you stay informed of all of the things that the Association is doing for you as members.

There is, however, something that you, as members, can do for the Association. As you know, Ginny Martin, the NHBA Associate Executive Director for Legal Services, and the Pro Bono staff have a large number of Pro Bono cases that need to be referred to attorneys. So far, members are making a great effort in agreeing to handle many of these cases. Unfortunately, the number of cases mounts daily and the need for more members to take on these cases continues to grow.

This past week, at the national Access to Justice Conference, Ginny Martin received an award for her tremendous strides and ongoing efforts to address the needs of the ever-increasing number of Pro Bono clients in our state. In fact, during my year as Bar President I discovered that it is well known throughout the national legal and bar association communities that the New Hampshire Bar Association has a successful and well-run program and a well-served clientele. This success is due to the effort and commitment of Ginny Martin, the Bar staff, and, most of all, you the members.

For many years, members of our Bar have worked very hard to provide compassionate and competent representation to people who otherwise would not have had any one to help them with their case. (For the most recent list of Bar members who have recently accepted a Pro Bono referral, please turn to the Pro Bono Honor Roll on page 23.) Unfortunately, the need for attorneys to take Pro Bono cases continues. (The Pro Bono waiting list, on that same page, indicates that there are xx cases awaiting referral right now.)

It is important that as many members as possible volunteer to take a Pro Bono case. There are several reasons for your agreeing to accept a case. You can use this work to satisfy the new Supreme Court Rule for annual thirty (30) hours of pro bono service by members of the Bar. Another reason is that you will be helping a large segment of our community in desperate need of legal services that is unable to afford them.

As always, do not think that I am asking you do something that I am not doing. I have taken pro bono cases in the past. This year, I have not accepted a pro bono case due to my work with the Association; however, once I have completed this year, I will be accepting a case.

At the beginning of my year as President of the New Hampshire Bar Association, I said that the Association is only as good and as strong as its members because the members are the Association. The Pro Bono caseload is a significant part of our Association and the critical need of legal work for these clients is a significant part of our Association.

We have a strong Association with energetic members dedicated to their profession, their community and the public. That is a tremendous tribute to you as members. Thank you again for your time, your effort and your commitment.

The next time Ginny Martin or her staff calls asking for you to take a Pro Bono case, first congratulate her on her recent award and second, take the case!

One final note... I had the pleasure recently to call Hillsborough County Probate Court Judge Raymond Cloutier and NH Bar Association Secretary Gretchen Witt with the news that I will be presenting them with awards at the 2008 Annual Meeting. Judge Cloutier is this year’s recipient of the Justice William Grimes Award for Judicial Professionalism, and Gretchen will receive the Distinguished Service to the Legal Profession award. Read more about them – and about the Annual Meeting – on pages 8 and 9.

Eleanor Wm. Dahar, of the Dahar Professional Association in Manchester, is the 2007-2008 NHBA President.  

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