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Bar News - October 19, 2012

NH Bar Names Winner of Bruce Friedman Pro Bono Award

Marilyn Billings McNamara
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Marilyn Billings McNamara has been named the inaugural recipient of the Bruce E. Friedman Pro Bono Award.

The award, to be presented at the UNH School of Law on Oct. 16, is sponsored by the NH Bar Association and the law school’s social justice institute. It recognizes a NH Bar member and UNH Law alumni member who embodies the values and work of Bruce Friedman, the late founder of the civil practice clinic at the law school and a legend in the world of civil legal services in New Hampshire.

McNamara, of Upton & Hatfield, is a 1977 graduate of the UNH School of Law (then named Franklin Pierce Law Center). She served for eight years as executive director of the Legal Advice & Referral Center, is a past president of the Bar Association (2010-2011) and was a member of the first Judicial Selection Commission established in NH. McNamara practiced family law for many years in the Lebanon area and has had a career-long association with Pro Bono and legal services. She served for many years as chair of the Pro Bono Governing Board.

After graduating law school, McNamara helped establish the family law practice clinic at FPLC. In 1978, she went into private practice, and Friedman, a 1973 graduate of FPLC, was hired to expand the clinic program. Known for his idealism, his skills in working with low-income clients, and his dedication to civil legal services, Friedman made significant contributions to the FPLC program and a lasting impact on many of his students. His untimely death, in China, in 1997, cut short what was already a legendary career.

McNamara was happy and honored to receive an award named after Friedman, who she remembers fondly.

"Bruce was passionate about equal justice for everyone, regardless of their income," she said. "He had an extraordinarily fine mind and he persevered against all odds to deliver justice to people who could not otherwise afford it. He was really a beacon for lawyers generally, looking to fairness and justice as the prime reasons that we are lawyers. He had that drive and desire to be sure that people get fair treatment."

Ginny Martin, NHBA’s associate executive director for legal services, said the creation of an annual award in Friedman’s name provides a special way for the Pro Bono Program and UNH Law to recognize attorneys who exemplify the values Friedman espoused and taught at the law school during his time there.

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