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Bar News - August 13, 2010

Bar Foundation News: Candidates Vie for IOLTA Grants Committee

Two NHBA members are running for a single open seat on the NH Bar Foundation’s IOLTA Grants Committee for a five-year term.

The candidates are: Tracy A. Bernson, of Bernson & Burnham in Dover; and Karen S. McGinley, of Devine, Millimet & Branch in Manchester.

The Committee reviews IOLTA Grant applications, submitted in a competitive grant process open to New Hampshire nonprofit organizations that provide civil legal services to the disadvantaged, fund law-related education, and other projects approved by the NH Supreme Court. The IOLTA Grants Committee makes funding recommendations to the Bar Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Voting for the IOLTA Grants Committee this year will be conducted online, similar to the process used this year for the first time in the NHBA Board of Governors election. Ballots will be e-mailed to all IOLTA participants on Aug. 13 and must be completed by Aug. 31.

Any attorney who participates in the IOLTA program and did not receive an e-mailed ballot or who wishes a mailed ballot should contact Mary White at the Bar Foundation, 603-224-6942 or

The online voting format saves time for those who vote and for those counting the votes. In addition, eliminating paper ballots saves the Bar Foundation postage and printing costs. And, it saves trees by minimizing the use of paper.

The election is conducted using Elections Online, a national vendor that provides secure voting options to ensure that results are not compromised.

Excerpted below are biographies and statements from the candidates.

Tracy A. Bernson

Tracy A. Bernson
Tracy A. Bernson is a senior partner and managing attorney of Bernson & Burnham in Dover. As a trial attorney, Bernson concentrates her practice in litigating a broad range of issues. Bernson also is a member of the NH Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Charles C. Doe Inns of Court. She is a member of the NHBA’s Ethics Committee and a member of the Court Improvement Project’s Committee on Representing Parents. She is also a member of the Seacoast Child and Family Services Board of Directors. Bernson regularly participates in activities which introduce the legal system to New Hampshire’s youth, including as a judge for the We the People program, hosted by the Law Related Education Dept. of the NHBA.

Candidate’s statement

I believe that the Grants Committee is extremely important to both the Bar Foundation and the NH community at large.

More and more the media has reported on lawyers who have fallen short of the aspirational goals of the NH Rules of Professional Conduct. And, it has been very heartbreaking to read some of the commentary made by the average person about our profession. Many of these people believe that lawyers are thieves or worse, and are not valuable members of our communities. There is a belief that we are rich, elite, and without conscience. Nothing can be further from the truth. For myself, I have worked hard to give back to the community whenever possible.

As an example, I created a Reduced Fee Program for our law firm that filled the gaps of the NH Bar Association’s Reduced Fee Program, by charging for legal services based on an individual’s income, using a three-tier system…. Additionally, I have also committed to providing Pro Bono service as often as I can.

This past year, I accepted 36 cases, approximately three per month, not including DOVE Referral cases that found their way to me on an emergency basis.

My actions as an attorney stem from my own experiences. As a student, I required the services of an attorney to assist me in enforcing my right to disability accommodations in law school. Having a very limited income, it was very difficult to find someone to assist me. However, eventually, I did find a kind lawyer, who provided her assistance at a very reduced rate. If not for the lawyer’s ability to see a need and her willingness to work for less, I don’t believe I would have prevailed and had the necessary resources to complete law school.

It is this core value, giving back where needed, that compels me to become involved in the Bar Foundation, through work on the IOLTA Grants Committee.

Karen S. McGinley

Karen S. McGinley
Karen S. McGinley is a shareholder of Devine, Millimet & Branch law firm. She has extensive experience in real estate matters, including the representation of developers, investors, lenders, and borrowers involved in real estate purchase and sale transactions and financing. She also handles leasing transactions, operational issues and problems, as well as zoning and planning issues for the firm’s real estate clients. Karen has extensive experience in complex condominium and other creative forms of real estate development, including mixed-use development.

Karen has been recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in America in Real Estate by Woodward & White’s Best Lawyers in America®, the preeminent referral guide to the legal profession in the United States.

Areas of Practice

  • Acquisitions, Sales and Development of Real Estate
  • Condominiums, Commercial, Residential and Mixed-Use (Including Creative Forms of Units)
  • Construction
  • Land Use Planning and Permitting
  • Leasing
  • Mixed-Use Developments
  • Mortgage Lending and Borrowing
  • Office Projects
  • Industrial Projects
  • Retail Projects
  • Tax Exempt Bond Financing (Borrower, Credit Enhancing Bank)

An example of Karen’s innovative approach to real estate development is her co-authoring of the first Traditional Neighborhood Development ordinance, which was adopted at town meeting by a southern New Hampshire town, to enable the development of a village mixed-use project. As redevelopment of real estate in southern New Hampshire has become common, Karen has successfully assisted clients in the purchase and redevelopment of "Brownfields" properties. In addition, Karen represents lending institutions in asset-based loans and represents lending institutions and healthcare facilities in tax-exempt bond transactions.

Candidate’s statement

I do want to express to you my interest in providing legal services in New Hampshire to those who are not able to pay for it themselves. I have worked with wonderful, needy clients through the NH Pro Bono Home Rescue Team. As a business attorney, much of the work which comes from the NHBA Pro Bono office is litigation, in which I am not skilled. The Home Rescue Team clients have given me an opportunity to give the same representation that I would give a paying client, with a reward which is so much greater in appreciation than the fees I receive from my clients who can pay.

I believe that the IOLTA program is a wonderful way to raise funds so that all NH residents are able to be represented by NH Bar members, no matter their ability to pay. Without it and the other funding services, there would be many who would go without. To those who most need our services, a NH attorney gives a voice that is heard loud and clear.

This Committee would give me another way to serve.

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