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Bar News - June 6, 2008

Board Approves Budget; Creates Public Attorney Award Committee

At its May 15, 2008 meeting, the NHBA Board of Governors voted to approve the recommendations of the Finance Committee regarding the 2008-2009 NHBA budget. As has been discussed in past issues of the Bar News, the new budget (for the fiscal year that started June 1, 2008) includes a dues increase of $25, plus a previously anticipated $5 increase to defray occupancy costs in the new Bar Center.

The budget also features a new incentive for Bar members to explore the advantages of section membership. Any member who pays dues for at least one section will be entitled to add one NEW free section as a trial membership (i.e., someone who is already a member of one section may add another new section at no additional cost).

Also, as discussed previously, the Bar is converting the Bar Journal from a quarterly print publication to a publication that is predominantly distributed online, starting with the fall issue, and transitioning the Bar News from 22 issues a year to a monthly publication by the fall. These moves are designed to help the Bar Association maintain a high quality of services to a diverse membership, by redirecting more resources to electronic media.

In future issues of Bar News and on the website you will find more information about the budget and Association services and operations.

In other actions, the Board authorized the creation of a Public Sector/Public Interest Attorney Award Committee, to develop a process for nomination of candidates in government or public interest work to receive recognition for their work and professionalism. The award would be presented at the Midyear Meeting. The award was one of the suggestions of a task force on Public Sector/Public Interest Attorneys in the Bar that completed its work a year ago.

The Board extensively discussed the creation of a seat on the Board of Governors to represent public sector/public interest attorneys. Board members raised a concern that creating a seat that could only be voted on by members of the public sector would give those members an extra vote. It was the consensus of those present that as long as all eligible voting members have the same number of votes in an election, they would not oppose a seat for public sector/ public interest members.

NHBA President Eleanor Dahar tasked the Board Committee on Administration of the Bar with preparing a recommendation for the Board’s consideration that designates a seat on the Board of Governors, proposes a term, and restricts the number of votes to at-large and county ballots. Members from the PS/PI Task Force will be asked to assist the Board Committee in preparing this for the Board.

The Board also:

· Approved the creation of a Public Information and Education Committee that would be goal-oriented, rather than program oriented. Its goals would include:

– overseeing the continuation of core Law Related Education programs (as the budget allows), particularly those that facilitate the volunteer participation of Bar members;

– evaluating new ideas for programming or outreach, and assisting the Bar staff in organizing and staffing public information and education programs;

– developing partnerships with media outlets, particularly educational or community television, to create informational programming on the value of lawyers in the justice system, and providing practical information to the public.

Such partnerships would focus on Bar volunteers providing content and expertise, while relying on media partners to do the technical production. Among the partners who have already been approached are the NH Public Television Knowledge Network, Manchester Community Television, and the Manchester Bar Association, for the production of an hour or half-hour legal interview show.

At the same time, these TV production resources also may be tapped to help create very short announcement or brief informational spots that could be widely distributed to television and cable television stations in the state. Peter Hutchins, who chaired a task force on this issue, will serve as the first chair. (More on the activities of this committee in a future issue of Bar News.)

· Revised the description for the New Lawyers Mentoring program to provide mentoring services, as volunteer resources allow, to an expanded definition of a "new lawyer" to include not only newly admitted attorneys, or those new to a practice area, but also attorneys re-entering active practice after a hiatus. The changes approved by the Board also allow for the renewal of the current one-year term limit for a mentoring relationship. Jaye Rancourt, chair of the New Lawyers Committee, said that the committee will create a "Mentor Connection" listserv that will focus on making experienced lawyers available at specific time periods to answers questions from New Lawyers.

· Approved appointments of Peter W. Brown, Concord; Harriet J. Fishman, Portsmouth; and Elizabeth Maher Leonard, Manchester to three-year terms on the board of NH Legal Assistance; and James O. Barney, Concord; Paula T. Rogers, Manchester; and Mark Rouvalis, Manchester; to the governing board of the Legal Advice & Referral Center.

The next meeting of the NHBA Board of Governors is set for Friday, June 20, at the NHBA Annual Meeting at the North Conway Grand Hotel. Details on the meeting.

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