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Bar News - May 13, 2011

Several Committees Report to Board of Governors

The April 21, 2011 Board of Governors meeting was highlighted by the reports of several Bar Association committees that provided insight into the range of activities that are going on.

Committee on Cooperation with the Courts

The Committee on Cooperation with the Courts, which has a membership of judges, administrators and court clerks as well as lawyers, is envisioning more work in the coming months and years as the Judicial Branch forges ahead with its Circuit Court reorganization, and the implementation of the "eCourt" and videoconferencing. Jeanne Herrick, chair, discussed with the Board the outcome of the committee’s deliberations over the past few months. The committee took a close look at what its mission should be and reaffirmed that the mission remains to be a conduit for two-way communication between practicing lawyers and the courts.

It looked at how to make the committee more effective at fulfilling that mission, and decided to form an executive committee that will meet two weeks before the full committee meeting to flesh out the agenda and gather necessary additional information or reach out to other concerned entities. On a number of occasions, court officials have brought information about upcoming changes to the committee for discussion and feedback and the existing structure did not allow for timely consideration or action. The new process should enable the executive committee to make the meetings more effective, Herrick said.

Gender Equality Committee

Beth Deragon, chair of the Gender Equality Committee, made an initial presentation of a plan the committee is exploring to create a voluntary certification process of non-discriminatory, family-friendly employment policies for legal employers. Deragon said there were a number of findings from the last Gender Equality Survey that indicate that, while much progress has been made toward the integration of women into the profession, a number of barriers still exist. The certification process could encourage law firms to adopt more progressive policies with the incentive of being recognized for their efforts. Board members are to consider the idea and discuss it at their next meeting.

The New Lawyers Committee

The New Lawyers Committee provided a proposal on its plan to conduct another "Battle of the Bands" social event on Sept. 18, similar to the first event held last fall at a Manchester bar. The event would feature bands that include at least one Bar member. While there would be no admission charged, there would be raffles aimed at raising money for a Bar-related cause, such as Pro Bono. Board members are to consider the idea and discuss it at their next meeting.

The Legislation Committee

The Board received a brief report from John MacIntosh, NHBA Legislative Representative. He reported that the NH House Redress & Grievance Committee is expected to meet in mid May and will be discussing three "grievances" or bills of address against members of the judiciary, but it has not been disclosed who the judges or masters are. The bill of address against Master Philip Cross has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for investigation.

Supreme Court Committee on Rules

Bar President-elect Jennifer Parent, who serves as liaison to the NH Supreme Court Committee on Rules, reported that Associate Justice Robert Lynn has been named the new chair of the committee, replacing Justice Dalianis. Parent said Judge Lynn is continuing a fast pace of activity for the committee on pending proposals and has opened all of its deliberations to the public. Parent also reported that NH House Speaker William O’Brien, who is a lawyer in Concord, has named himself as the NH House’s appointment to the Rules Committee. Lastly, she said that the Committee is still working on the proposed revision of the Rules of Civil Procedure because a number of comments had been received during the public hearing process.

Lastly, it was reported that the 2011-12 election process, the second held online, was conducted successfully. There were no unopposed candidates. Lawrence Vogelman was elected President-elect, and Jaye Rancourt, currently an at-large governor, was elected Vice President.

The next Board of Governors meeting is set for 3:00 p.m. on May 19 at the Bar Center in Concord.

Supreme Court Rule 42(9) requires all NH admitted attorneys to notify the Bar Association of any address change, home or office.

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