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Bar News - June 15, 2012

President's Perspective: Thank you!


Jennifer L. Parent
I thank you for the privilege of serving you as President of this Bar Association. It does not seem possible that 12 months have passed since that warm summer evening at the Mount Washington Hotel when I stepped into this role. At times, that night seems like yesterday. I still feel the excitement of the moment and the anticipation for the work ahead. The year has flown by.

I am grateful and appreciative to my family, friends, and colleagues of the McLane law firm for their support of me this year. I have the pleasure of working with a wonderful group of people who recognize the importance of giving back to our profession through Bar service. Their understanding of the necessary commitment to this position allowed me to serve you.

I have had fun this year. Travelling around the state to meet many of you proved a highlight of the responsibilities of this position. I valued hearing from you about your practices and stories about the people you serve in your communities. Listening to your concerns and aspirations for our profession also helped guide the Bar Association to remain relevant to you and to better serve you, the public, and the judicial system.

In writing this, my last column, I am reminded of the year we have had together. And I reflect that last June, I said I intended to focus on three areas this year. I am happy to say that we exceeded our goals and more.

First, we looked to the future. While it is inherently difficult to predict what lies ahead, we must appreciate and understand change. We must envision where we see our legal world ten or twenty years from now so we are prepared. As John F. Kennedy once said, "For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who only look to the past or present are certain to miss the future."

Recognizing that we cannot turn back or even stop the clock, we advanced the legal profession and the practice of law by looking to our next leaders. We continued last year’s success and encouraged the development and involvement of our newer lawyers by working with another class of the Leadership Academy. This program provided these newer members of our Bar Association with the tools they need to move us forward. We welcome the difference they will make as our next bar leaders and the opportunities they will create to equip our profession for tomorrow’s challenges.

We live in an evolving world of technology. For the first time, we included QR Codes in our Bar Association materials for those members with smartphone capability. We continued to examine and experiment with new ways to reach out to members as opportunities and needs presented themselves. Last summer, we used videoconferencing technology to present a live conversation with the leaders of the brand-new Circuit Court, allowing members to hear directly from the decision-makers and to ask questions and listen to the answers in real-time. All these new technological connections have helped to invest and prepare all of us for the future.

Second, we raised the bar on civics education. Civic knowledge is essential to the protection of our constitutional democracy. There is no more important goal than having an understanding of our government and the fundamental values and principles of our Constitution. An uninformed public will not understand the importance of a strong justice system and be unlikely to support the resources it needs or to understand the role of lawyers within that system.

This year, we made a difference on this front. The Bar Association worked with the NH Bar Foundation on a joint civic initiative called Civics In Action. Many of you volunteered to go into our communities to further adult knowledge of civics. We set and met our goal to present Civics In Action to every Rotary Club in New Hampshire in an eight-month period. Engaging over 2,500 people on the topic of civics, ambassador lawyers furthered the fundamentals of our government and the courts. Again, each of you taking time to create a difference that will be felt beyond today.

Third, we publicized all the good things that lawyers do every day. We each make a difference in our clients’ lives and businesses, our profession through our commitment to the rule of law, and our communities through our volunteer time and contributions. You all continued this work in spades.

Impressively, New Hampshire lawyers provided over 18,000 hours in free, pro bono legal services to the citizens of our state. Lawyers volunteered their time to Law Related Education activities such as We The People. New Hampshire lawyers make a difference and we need to make sure people know it.

We faced challenges this year as well. We started with a new Circuit Court and the various trials confronting this change. We found ourselves at the Legislature reiterating the fundamental importance of separation of powers. Unfortunately, court funding issues, the diminishing jury trial, and attacks on lawyers and judges continued to confront our justice system. Many of these challenges remain, and we must stay resilient to protect the core principals of our system of justice.

I have enjoyed my year and my time in serving the profession and this Bar Association. Thank you for the opportunity and your confidence in me. When I decided to take on this role as your President, my goal was to leave the Bar Association and the profession better than I found it. I hope you find that I did just that.

There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something. – Henry Ford

Thank you.

Editor’s note: The July issue of Bar News will include a further review of the activities, accomplishments and challenges addressed in the 2011-2012 Bar Association year.

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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