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Bar News - October 16, 2009

Board Updated on Discipline System

At the Sept. 24 NHBA Board of Governors meeting – in addition to Chief Justice Broderick’s appearance – the Board welcomed James DeHart, Attorney Discipline Office General Counsel. DeHart updated the Board on the ADO process and the progress made on reducing the time it takes to process complaints. DeHart spoke mostly about the handling of the vast majority of complaints that are not docketed or are dismissed after preliminary investigation.

The attorney disciplinary process underwent a major overhaul in 2004, and since that time, steady progress has been made in reducing the time for initial processing of complaints. (Details on the status of the attorney discipline process will be covered in an upcoming issue of Bar News. The NHBA CLE Committee also is planning a program on ethics that will include discussion of the ADO at the 2010 Midyear Meeting on Feb. 12. The E-Bulletin and website will have updates when plans are firmed up.)

Margaret Kerouac, chair of the Family Law Section and a member of a bench-bar committee reviewing Family Division policies and rules, provided an update on the work of that group. Changes are in the works on rules regarding attorney withdrawals, testimony, subpoena procedure, and allowing attorneys to sign pleadings acknowledging "good faith knowledge" of the facts they contain. She said the bench-bar group is also continuing to discuss attorney concerns about the First Appearance component of divorce in the Family Division.

Other items brought before the Board:

Beth Deragon, chair of the NHBA Gender Equality Committee reported that the committee is reviewing the results of the latest follow-up to the 1988 Women in the Legal Profession Survey. Articles about the survey will appear in an upcoming issue of the Bar Journal.

There was a high level of response to the survey, conducted by a professional survey firm, and the results reflect a good cross-section of the Bar. Deragon said that preliminary analysis shows that respondents see improvements in the status of women in the profession, but that income disparities remain, and that there are significant differences in the perceptions of men and women in the profession about the existence of unequal treatment.

ABA Association Delegate Russell Hilliard asked the Board to consider sending a letter to members of Congress from NH urging them to support continued funding for the Center for Civic Education, the funding source for the We the People programs, "The Citizen and the Constitution," and "Project Citizen", both key offerings in NH of the Bar’s Law- Related Education program. Also addressing the issue was Howard Zibel, Supreme Court general counsel, who helped bring the "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution" curriculum to NH. (See letter from NHBA President James J. Tenn, Jr.).

The Board also voted to join a letter signed by other state and local bar associations opposing the Federal Trade Commission’s inclusion of lawyers in the anti-ID theft law known as the "Red-Flag Rule."

The Board approved these appointments:

Claudia C. Damon to LARC Board of Directors for a two-year term.

Peter G. Beeson and Rose Marie Joly to NHLA Board for two year terms.

Eleanor Wm. Dahar to one of three NH seats on the New England Bar Association Board for a three-year term.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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