Bar News - August 15, 2008
Fred Upshall: Concord’s Loss, Albuquerque’s Gain
By: Beverly Rorick
After spending almost 35 years as a Concord attorney, Frederick E. Upshall, Jr. is moving to Albuquerque, NM to become an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for the Social Security Administration (SSA). "It’s a challenge," says Upshall, speaking of the huge backlog of cases that prompted the SSA to hire nearly 200 new judges this year. As an ALJ, he will review claims lodged with the SSA, mostly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability cases. "Some of these cases have dragged on for years," said Upshall, "and people have lost many of their assets, including their homes, waiting for their cases to be resolved—yet SSI is the only real safety net for the disabled."
Upshall began the application process in January. Applicants for an administrative judgeship with the SSA don’t really have a choice of cities they want to work in, but after they have been accepted, each does receive a list of three possible locations to choose from. The two cities that most appealed to Upshall were Richmond, VA and Albuquerque.
The SSA placed him in Albuquerque—which is just fine with him. "I love to ski and it’s not far to the mountains," said Upshall, "and yet we’ll have the desert at our doorstep, too." His wife is an RN case manager and will continue with her career in their new home. The Upshalls have one daughter, a consultant living in Falls Church, VA. "But maybe she’ll move out there, too," says Upshall, smiling.
Upshall graduated with honors from Rutgers-Camden Law School in 1974 and spent some time in Camden helping with landlord-tenant issues, in particular assisting migrant farm workers, before coming to New Hampshire.
A strong believer in legal services for everyone, he has been a participant in the NH Bar Association’s Pro Bono program and also in its Lawyer Referral Service (LRS). "Attorney Upshall restored my faith in lawyers," said one LRS client. Another commented, "Attorney Upshall was really nice—and gave my concerns the proper professional attention."
Upshall thinks the LRS is a great resource because it gives clients a free consult—which often keeps people from wasting time going down the wrong paths. "You can steer a client in the right direction; and if you can’t help him or her, you may be able to recommend someone who can."
The firm also did pro bono work independently of the Bar. Upshall himself recently "wrote off" a client’s fees in an SSI case because, "The poor lady went through the hurricane in Louisiana and her boyfriend drowned."
In 1975 Upshall was hired by the Perkins & Brock law firm. Both Perkins and Brock later became judges, with Brock filling the position of Chief Justice of the NH Supreme Court and Perkins joining the Superior Court roster.
After the Perkins & Brock law firm dissolved, Upshall joined with Charles Temple and Thomas Cooper to found the Upshall, Cooper & Temple firm. Their combined years of service in the Concord community total more than 60 years.
Most of Attorney Upshall’s cases have involved workers’ compensation matters argued before the NH Department of Labor and the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board—and social security disability and other supplemental income claims argued before the Social Security Administration and the US District Court. These cases have given him ample preparation for his new position in Albuquerque.
Upshall has been involved in various other activities in the legal community, too, serving eight years on the Board of Bar Examiners and nine years with the Professional Conduct Committee. He has also been president of the Merrimack County Bar Association and is a longtime member of the Workers’ Compensation section of the Bar. He has volunteered in Law Related Education and remembers in particular the Bi-centennial program (1976) when he was chair of the essay contest committee.
"To young lawyers I would say, ‘Put yourself in the client’s position—have compassion and understanding,’" said Upshall. "You may not always make a lot of money, but sometimes that’s not so important. You know the old saying about walking a mile in the other man’s shoes…well, that’s what’s really important."