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Bar News - February 13, 2009

Encore: Successfully Returning to Practice


Ellen L. Arnold

One of the great things about working at Dartmouth College is the opportunity to work with innovative and creative people. One example of that creativity is a program I learned about shortly after I came to Dartmouth. Itís a program that the Tuck School of Business created called, "Back to Business: Invest in Your Return." The Tuck program is designed to "Öupdate the management and leadership skills of business professionals who want to reenter the workforce." As we all know, business professionals are not alone in that regard.

Having taken ten years out of my early career to raise children and having frequently encountered other lawyers who are looking for ways to reenter practice, I approached Dean Hutson at Franklin Pierce Law Center to explore a potential joint venture between the NH Bar Association and Franklin Pierce Law Center to help lawyers in New Hampshire get back into practice. The result is an exciting collaboration that we hope will be valuable not only to individual lawyers, but also to the legal community as a whole.

At a time when many lawyers have decided to take time away from the practice of law in order to pursue other commitments, and at a time when changes in technology, substantive law, and work options are expanding, it makes good sense to provide opportunities for lawyers to receive updates, guidance, and to network in order to successfully reenter practice. Correspondingly, new entries into the legal workforce create better qualified and diverse prospects for employers. In order to explore options and create a uniquely New Hampshire program, a task force has been named to gather information and make recommendations to the Bar and Pierce Law by spring 2009.

The group met in December 2008 with Dean Hutson, members of the Bar staff and me to discuss what a New Hampshire program would look like and whom it would target. Not surprisingly, there are similar programs at Pace Law School and American University, and the Washington College of Law. The New York City Bar Association is exploring the idea, too.

The goal of this program will be to assist any lawyer that wants to get back into practice after a leave of absence for any reason. It may also be valuable for lawyers admitted by motion who may want more information about New Hampshire practice and the New Hampshire legal community than is afforded in the Practical Skills Program which the NH Supreme Court requires all new members to take within two years of admission.

The task force has already met once and is beginning to make decisions about what the program should look like. One possibility under consideration is a three-session program that would include:

Refresher training on electronic legal research.

Career coaching, resume drafting, networking techniques.

CLE or other meetings focused on specific areas of practice.

Refreshing legal writing skills.

Other ideas include holding a session simulating working with clients, who might be played by trained professionals that are used in Pierce Lawís Daniel Webster Scholars Program. Another session might focus on motion practice and provide attendees the opportunity to argue their motions in front of a panel of judges.

Because the New Hampshire Barís CLE committee already produces key programs in many areas of law, the new program would partner with the Bar for the CLE component. By using the already offered CLE programs, the Pierce component of the new program can focus on broader practical skills. Not only will this program assist the lawyers who are seeking to reenter practice, but it will also connect those lawyers with others in the legal community who may have an interest in meeting the participants.

I want to thank the volunteers who agreed to take on another task for the Bar and be part of the committee that designs and implements this program. They are: Corey Belobrow, Maggiotto & Belobrow, PLLC, and chair of the Barís Continuing Legal Education Committee; Betsy Black, Betsy Black Consulting, PLLC; Hon. Carol Ann Conboy; Mary Dempsey, Wiggin & Nourie, PA; Jonathan Eck, Kristen Mendoza and Paul Remus all of Devine, Millimet & Branch, PA; John Garvey, Mary Sheffer and John Hutson all of Pierce Law; Arthur G. Greene, Greene Lombardi Law Group; Don Hebert, Hebert & Dolder, PLLC; Danielle Pacik, NH Attorney Generalís Office; David Wolowitz, McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton, PA; and Jeannine McCoy, Executive Director and Joanne Hinnendael, CLE Director, of the NH Bar Association.

The task force wants your input. Please feel free to email with your experiences and ideas. We hope that this program will become one of the many valuable services the Association has helped create for its members.

Ellen L. Arnold, associate general counsel for Dartmouth College, is the 2008-2009 NHBA president.

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