Bar News - March 19, 2010
2010 Midyear Meeting: Award Winners Comment
Cheryl Sessions, counsel and policy director for ROC USA (Resident Owned Communities), is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Service in Public Sector/Public Interest Law award. She writes:
Award winners Cheryl Sessions, Quentin Blaine and Catherine Shanelaris with Bar President James Tenn.
"It takes all kinds. I am grateful to the Bar for recognizing that "public service" can include a variety of work and people. As the saying goes, "It takes all kinds to make a world." I say "it takes all kinds to make a just world.
"I grew up a member of the "working poor." I never expected to go to college. But I was given a hand up and always knew I wanted to pay it back somehow. I entered law school to become a civil rights lawyer, but I soon fell in love with real estate and corporate law.
"After 16 years of practice representing lenders, businesses and my family in a manufactured housing business in Maine, I found the NH Community Loan Fund. It had a program to help homeowners in "mobile home parks" form cooperatives to gain control over their land and save and improve their homes. They needed a real estate finance and business lawyer with knowledge of the manufactured housing industry and the experience that, even when you may be clinging to the bottom rung, you need only a hand up. Now, through ROC USA™ , we seek to bring this opportunity to 3.5 million homeowners across the country.
"Business and real estate lawyers can help bring social and economic justice. John F. Kennedy once said, "One man can make a difference, and every man should try."
Quentin Blaine, a solo practitioner with a general civil practice in Plymouth, was named the 2010 recipient of the Vickie M. Bunnell Award for Community Service at the Midyear Meeting.
Given to an attorney from a small firm (four or fewer attorneys), the award recognizes dedication to community through an attorney’s contribution of his or her time and talents, legal or otherwise.
Blaine, the Grafton County representative on the NHBA Board of Governors, does family law and general civil litigation, as well as transactional work for individuals, businesses and towns in the area. He is a pro bono and DOVE volunteer as well, and has also volunteered for the Bar’s law-related education programs. His remarks follow:
"I would like to thank the New Hampshire Bar Association for selecting me to receive the 2010 Vicki M. Bunnell Award for Community Service. Vickie Bunnell devoted her time, energy and skills to enhance the north country communities where she lived, practiced law, and served as a judge. She is remembered not only for her many accomplishments but also for the integrity, intelligence and courage that marked her efforts. I am honored to have been chosen as this year’s recipient of this award.
"I am proud to be a member of a profession that gives back so much. The many kind words that I have received from Bar Association members around the state have been an added bonus. The award means a lot to me and I thank you for it."
Catherine E. Shanelaris of Shanelaris & Schrich in Nashua received the L. Jonathan Ross Award for Outstanding Commitment to Legal Services for the Poor. Over the years, Shanelaris has consistently taken challenging cases for some of the most vulnerable clients, focusing on family law issues. Shanelaris serves on the NH Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission and is a certified marital mediator. She says:
"It is a great feeling to help others and I receive a great deal of satisfaction when I share my education and knowledge of the law with those who are not empowered by the same opportunities I had. I enjoy assisting a client navigate the legal system as clients often have a fear of the court process. I was helped by many people along the way in my legal career and doing pro bono work is a nice way to "pay it forward."
"With the demands and requests for cash financial donations from many extremely worthy causes in our difficult economy, donating time to the Pro Bono Referral Program on an unbundled services basis is an easy way to make a "donation" without writing a check, but with the enormous satisfaction of knowing you made a very personal and direct difference in someone’s life."