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Bar News - January 13, 2012

NHBA Board of Governors: ‘Battle of the Lawyers’ Event Returns

At its December 15 meeting, the NHBA Board of Governors gave the go-ahead to the New Lawyers Committee to stage a second "Battle of the Lawyers" event this spring, as a fundraiser for the NHBA Pro Bono Referral Program.

Last year’s inaugural program was developed as a project of one of three working groups of the Leadership Academy, and succeeded in raising, through sponsorships and paid admissions, $5,000 for the Campaign for Legal Services.

This year’s event is tentatively scheduled for April 17 at the Capital Center for the Arts. Members of the NLC will be soliciting sponsorships from law firms and other parties. John T. Broderick, Jr., Dean of UNH School of Law, has agreed to once again serve as emcee for the event. (More details in upcoming issues of Bar News and the e-Bulletin.)

The Board also discussed an offer by leaders of three legal services agencies to include Pro Bono in their plans to create a shared facility for legal services organizations.

John Tobin, executive director of NH Legal Assistance, along with the executive directors of the Disabilities Rights Center and Legal Advice and Referral Center, Richard Cohen and Connie Rakowsky, asked the Board to consider relocating the operations of the NHBA Pro Bono Referral Program to joint space being scouted by the three legal services organizations, NHLA, DRC and LARC. Leases for existing space for these three staff-model agencies will be expiring in the next two years, and, Tobin said, they are interested in co-locating to save on expenses and share support services. Tobin did not have any financial data available on possible savings.

Tobin said Pro Bono’s participation was not crucial to their plans to seek a new shared location; he said they wanted to explore the opportunity of including Pro Bono in their plans as he believes all of the agencies would benefit from closer communication and coordination of efforts, as well as financial savings for the legal services organizations, all of which are struggling with fewer funds in a difficult economy.

In discussion, board members raised a number of issues regarding moving Pro Bono from the Bar Center. Pro Bono, a fully integrated part of the Association’s legal services programs including Reduced Fee and Lawyer Referral, already benefits from shared overhead and support services at the Bar Center. Members pointed out that as an organization whose focus is on recruiting and training attorneys, Pro Bono’s location at the Bar Center is particularly advantageous to meeting its mission. As Board Secretary Peter Hutchins put it, "Pro Bono already has a home." Board members agreed to consider the issue further and to entertain any additional information provided by NHLA and the other agencies.

In other action:
  • New ethics opinion. The Board authorized for publication a new Ethics Committee formal opinion, "Foregoing Professional Conduct Complaints"
  • Approved publication of the 2011 update of the Real Property Section’s Title Standards. The Section, for the past few years, has been annually updating the title standards. Carol Brooks, chair of the Title Standards drafting subcommittee, summarized changes for the year. Visit for details on the revisions, which are effective Jan. 1, 2012.
  • Hillsborough South courthouse update. Robert Shepard, NHBA governor representing Hillsborough County Southern District, and attorney David Gottesman, a former state senator, discussed the ongoing efforts of the Nashua Bar Association to solidify support among lawmakers, local government officials, and the business community to keep the Superior Court in Nashua. The Judicial Branch has expressed interest in moving all superior court operations for Hillsborough County to the newly opened Manchester courthouse, erasing the division of the county trial court into two divisions, which occurred 20 years ago. They noted that the Judicial Branch has not produced figures on how much money would be saved by the consolidation. The elimination of the Nashua-based superior court is contained in pending legislation.
  • Mary Stewart appointed to Pro Bono Governing Board. Attorney Stewart, a solo practitioner in Concord, has been a long time Pro Bono volunteer, particularly in the area of bankruptcy, where she is not only working with clients but has been working closely with the Pro Bono staff in screening bankruptcy cases and preparing them for referral.
The next meeting of the Board of Governors will be a half-day session on January 19, with much of the time devoted to a review of selected legislative bills. The Board reviews recommendations by the NHBA Legislation Committee for advocacy or opposition to bills of relevance to the legal profession or the administration of justice. The Legislation Committee and the Board of Governors adhere to guidelines for legislative activity by unified bar associations established by the Chapman decision in New Hampshire and the Keller decision by the US Supreme Court. These decisions, Chapman in particular, limit unified bar associations from active efforts on behalf of legislation unless it pertains to the administration of justice, or composition and operation of the courts, or the practice of law, or if the Board of Governors believes there is substantial unanimity among the Bar membership on an issue.

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