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Bar News - December 18, 2009

WMUR Tops Newscast with Pro Bono Story

Click image to view video on WMUR website. Video may be begin with short ad.
Bad news turned into good news about the pro bono efforts of New Hampshire lawyers last month.

On Nov. 12, a WMUR news producer contacted the Bar Association to check out a comment from a viewer that the Bar is not taking pro bono cases anymore. The producer asked if the difficult economy was resulting in fewer lawyers taking cases.

The tip resulted from the posting of a notice on the Barís website that the Pro Bono program was temporarily suspending intake of bankruptcy cases due to a backlog.

The station was then put in touch with NHBA President and regular Pro Bono volunteer Jim Tenn, who was ready to explain that, in fact, it was not the supply of lawyers willing to volunteer, but the demand for civil legal services that was the problem.

Jim Tenn sat down for an interview with reporter Adam Sexton that ended up as the lead item on the Nov. 12 newscast.

The following is an excerpt from the stationís website of the story:

"MANCHESTER, N.H. Ė The recession is taking its toll on the justice system in New Hampshire, as lawyers see a significant rise in the number of cases qualifying for free legal help.

"Attorney Jim Tenn, president of the New Hampshire Bar Association, said this year will go down as one of the busiest for the Barís pro-bono program which links low-income people with lawyers who help them for free.

"Tenn said most of the time, top needs relate to issues of family law, but in the recession thatís changing to bankruptcy, foreclosure and landlord-tenant problems.

"Tenn said the pro-bono program provides more than $2 million in free legal services every year and is still striving to do more. A number of attorneys in New Hampshire also take cases on their own and provide help to low-income clients outside the program."

If you are interested in pitching in, the Pro Bono Referral Program, now more than ever, can use your help. Call Ginny Martin at 603-715-3221 or ask for another staff member in the Pro Bono department.

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