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Bar News - September 18, 2009

Presidentís Perspective: A Crowded Agenda for the New Bar Year


James J. Tenn, Jr.
August easily slides into September. Perhaps as a result of the start of school or maybe because of the visual evidence of the changing seasons, this time of year has always signaled a shift towards a new start, a new year.

As we begin this new Bar year, I want to acquaint you with the diversity and varied issues and concerns that your Bar Association Board of Governors is addressing. A sampling of the agenda items discussed during our working retreat in August, and at a subsequent meeting, include:
  • Access to justice, an important issue that arises in many different contexts;
  • Interviews with the four recently nominated candidates to serve on the Superior Court;
  • Discussion with Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Lynn on issues involving the courts;
  • Update on the temporary relocation of the Hillsborough North Courthouse to Nashua;
  • Transition issues regarding the New Hampshire Bar Foundation;
  • Recent initiative to review and perhaps reform Superior Court Rules based upon the recommendation of a report co-authored by the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System;
  • New website for the New Hampshire Attorney Discipline Office; and
  • Discussion on the use of unbundled legal services, among other issues.
Over the summer, I also had the privilege of meeting with many of the attorneys chairing sections and committees of this Association on their plans and their concerns.

Much has been written recently about the increasing demands on the justice system at a time when resources are shrinking. Unbundled legal services present a new opportunity to improve access to justice. This concept of limited scope representation creates options for clients and allows lawyers to provide a more limited, albeit crucial, service to those in need. It has been suggested that this type of relationship may benefit both attorneys and the public, and will emphasize the real value provided by attorneys. The Bar has promoted and continues to promote these efforts as a means to enhance access to justice. Participation of attorneys is fundamental to improving access. We must continue to explore the challenges and opportunities presented by such concepts as unbundled legal services, and continue the work needed to enhance access. In the year ahead, we will be soliciting input on how this new approach can work best for clients, lawyers and the courts.

Also, the Board of Governors continues to discuss the importance of participation in our Bar Association. Involvement by the members of the Board of Governors and those who participate in committees, sections, task forces and others is crucial for an effective Association.

With this new year, I invite members of our Association to explore the various opportunities in the Bar and I encourage you to become involved. Dean Roscoe Pound once wrote that a profession is "a group . . . pursuing a learned art as a common calling in the spirit of public service . . . [and] no less a public service because it may incidentally be a means of livelihood."

An essential aspect of Bar membership is that we schedule time to socialize and to interact with each other as friends. As September begins, many opportunities arise to become involved. In addition to Bar Association events, other local bar associations provide great forums for lawyers to share experiences. For example, The Manchester Bar Association conducts its annual Golf Outing and is expecting a strong turnout on September 22, 2009. The Pro Bono Program recently completed another successful Golf Outing fundraiser. Even William Shakespeare would agree. It was in The Taming of the Shrew, that he succinctly observed that adversaries in law, "strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends."

This year, I intend to emphasize the importance of our New Hampshire tradition of civility in the practice of law. We are the present-day custodians of that tradition. I am convinced that civility contributes to integrity of practice. It is my hope that we may share a sense of rededication to our profession. We are part of a justice system; and, we are tasked to maintain it. We participate in a process that resonates with historical underpinnings. It is without doubt that we can meet our current challenges and through civility best honor the traditions of our profession.

James J. Tenn, Jr., is the 2009-2010 president of the New Hampshire Bar Association, and practices with the law firm of Tenn And Tenn in Manchester.

Supreme Court Rule 42(9) requires all NH admitted attorneys to notify the Bar Association of any address change, home or office.

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