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Bar News - July 16, 2010

New President Marilyn McNamara Predicts A Difficult Year Ahead


Marilyn McNamara provides advice for the legal profession from a personal experience in her initial remarks as 2010-2011 NHBA President.
At the 2010 NHBA Annual Meeting, Marilyn Billings McNamara took office as Bar President, receiving the gavel from James J. Tenn, Jr., after a year dominated by the court’s budget difficulties – a problem that will likely dominate much of the coming year.

McNamara acknowledged that state budget forecasts for the coming year portend even greater constraints on resources for all of state government, including the courts. "The world is changing and times are not going to get any easier, not for a long time," McNamara warned.

McNamara reached into recent personal experience to suggest a strategy for the profession to deal with the difficulties ahead. (See the text of McNamara’s remarks.)

Before turning over the gavel to McNamara, Tenn provided observations on the past year.

"I confess I did not foresee, when I took office 365 days ago, all of the challenges that would confront us this year," Tenn said, referring to the escalating crisis of state deficits that resulted in several rounds of court budget reductions. The spending reductions – and threats of deeper cuts – led the Bar and the Court to collaborate on advocacy for adequate court resources. Tenn then recalled the individual and collective efforts of Bar members to speak up to oppose further cuts.

"I am proud that we, the lawyers of this Bar Association, proved to be a cohesive group; we stuck together and we demonstrated what is best about our profession…. I believe firmly that the practice of law is a noble art and I believe the nobility of our profession was never more clear than when we stood together to oppose the closing of courthouse doors," he said.

Chief Justice Broderick, who received one of three Presidents’ awards presented on the closing night of the Annual Meeting, also addressed the court budget issue in his remarks. (See accompanying article on Chief Justice Broderick’s remarks.) Tenn also presented awards to the following members:

John Andrews, a lawyer who retired last year after many years as executive director of the NH Municipal Association (now known as the Local Government Center), received the Distinguished Service to the Profession award. Tenn said Andrews, with his experience as head of a major statewide association, brought "a unique and valuable perspective" as a member of the Board of Governors. He was cited in particular for his advice during the years-long process of considering and implementing the relocation of the Bar Center to 2 Pillsbury Street, including the eventual purchase of the third-floor space and seminar room, thus providing stability of occupancy costs for the Bar Association.

Accepting the award, Andrews said: "Everyone owes a measure of their time to the improvement of their profession, and I hope everyone here takes that to heart."

Tenn also presented the Donald E. Dufresne Award for Professionalism to Christopher Keating, executive director of the Office of the NH Public Defender, the state’s largest law firm.

Tenn said Keating, who has led the Public Defender office since 2001, is respected and admired by his colleagues and court adversaries and was admired for his management skills. "He represents the best of the Bar Association and is committed to equal justice for all," Tenn said.

Keating thanked his family and colleagues and expressed special gratitude to the Bar Association. He paraphrased Winston Churchill in saying, "a calm and dispassionate recognition of the rights of the accused, and the treatment of crime and criminals, mark and measure the stored-up strength of a nation." Keating added: "This Bar Association believes that in its bones."

New Lawyers Lead Social Media Program

On Saturday morning at the Annual Meeting, members of the New Lawyers Committee conducted a tour of social media sites for lawyers largely unfamiliar with the territory.

The program, put together by attorneys Kelleigh Domaingue Murphy and Jon Strasburger, with the assistance of their mentees, Steven Venezia and Seth Hipple, covered the most popular sites, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Murphy recently launched her own solo practice in Manchester; Strasburger is an attorney with Hage and Hodes, also in Manchester. Venezia recently joined Upton & Hatfield’s Hillsborough office, and Hipple practices with a new firm, Martin & Hipple.

The presentation and ensuing discussion covered the use of these media for litigation research, marketing, and to gain insights about potential new hires. There was considerable discussion about precautions lawyers should take to avoid creating an implied lawyer-client relationship through social media or other Internet interactions with potential clients. Audience members were free with questions about the relationship between these rapidly-growing media and ethics rules developed long before their emergence.

The New Lawyers program was followed by a networking lunch and a rousing volleyball game cut short by rain.

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