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Bar News - July 16, 2010

Presidentís Perspective: Life Lessons from a Bar President: Remarks at the 2010 Annual Meeting


Marilyn McNamara
Itís an honor and privilege to serve as Bar President for the coming year.

Now, this isnít the Oscars, but I do have a few thank-youísófirst, to my husband Bill, whose support has been phenomenal; to my kids, Nora and Sean; to Jeannine McCoy and the Bar staffóa dedicated, professional group whose job it is to keep the New Hampshire Bar at the top of the list when it comes to member services and public services as well.

And, of course, to the law firm of Upton and Hatfield, many of whom are here tonight, who took me in knowing I was going to do this. Iím pleased and proud to be a member of this fine firm.

Iím going to dedicate my remarks tonight to my grandson, Ian McCord McNamara, for reasons I will get into in a bit.

Justice Broderick has said that the court system is dying. He may be right. This is a tough time. The economy is gasping for air. Lawyers are struggling to stay afloat while self-represented litigants slow the process even further, costing represented clients more in fees and impeding full, fair and timely access to justice.

The predictions are that the next biennial budget will cut even deeper into the courtís operations, resulting in less access. Lawyers report feeling increasingly stressed. New lawyers graduate with huge educational debts and no job offers and no idea what to do next.

Weíre no longer at the dawn of the age of technology; itís more like 10 a.m. with the sun rising fast, and us with no sunscreen. The world is pulling closer together and pushing us further apart; we may send our legal work to India but we donít walk across the street to see our friends. The world is changing. These are tough times.

Now, back to Ian. In August of last year, my son called to report that I was a grandmother. That would have been better news had it come two months later. Ian was born early, small and in need of immediate surgery to save his life. He spent his first couple of months in an intensive care unit at DCís Childrenís Hospital, constantly watched over by teams of doctors and nurses and two very scared, very diligent lawyers, his mother and father.

So there he was, this tiny human, hooked up to a respirator and monitors and lights, intravenous lines, whistles and sensors, very sick, very vulnerable. We talk of his fighting spirit and his courage in the face of adversity, but really, Ian survived because he figured out what he needed to do and then, he did it. He kept breathing. Until he was strong enough to adapt to breathing on his own. He ate, he breathed and he waved his arms around in protest when he was so inclined. For weeks, he just kept breathing and eating and protesting, refining and improving his skills until heíd made enough progress to be released. He just kept doing what he needed to do.

Iím dedicating my remarks to him because Iíve taken a huge life lesson from this little person who started life at three-and-a-half pounds. When faced with challenge, we have to figure out what to do, and then, quite simply we have to summon the will to do it. I have ideas, but Iím looking to you and others for your ideas, your thoughts and yes, your opposing views.

I hope youíll join me on this journey. By the end of the year, maybe we will have made a difference.

Marilyn Billings McNamara is an attorney at Upton & Hatfield in Concord. She is the 2010-11 NH Bar Association president.

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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