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Bar News - November 16, 2012


Pro Bono Service Celebrated


From left, UNH Law School Dean John Broderick, NH Bar Legal Services Director Ginny Martin, and Marilyn McNamara, winner of the Bruce Friedman Pro Bono Award stand together at the Oct. 16 award ceremony.

UNH Law students, NH Bar staff and Bar members applaud McNamara and her dedication to civil legal services at UNH Law School in Concord.

From left, UNH Law School Dean John Broderick, NH Bar Legal Services Director Ginny Martin, and Marilyn McNamara, winner of the Bruce Friedman Pro Bono Award stand together at the Oct. 16 award ceremony.
Marilyn McNamara Accepts Friedman Award

The presentation of the inaugural Bruce E. Friedman Award at UNH Law School last month provided a reminder of the enormous need for civil legal services for the poor and vulnerable. The event also recognized the valuable Ė and frequently gratifying Ė service that NH attorneys provide by volunteering through the Bar Associationís Pro Bono Referral Program.

Prefaced by remarks from NH Supreme Court Chief Justice Linda Stewart Dalianis, the Oct. 16 event drew Pro Bono volunteers from the private bar, court officials, and UNH Law students and staff. The event also kicked off a weeklong dedication to public service activities by students at the law school.

UNH Law professor Erin Corcoran, director of the law schoolís Social Justice Institute, which sponsored the award along with the New Hampshire Bar Association, praised award-winner Marilyn Billings McNamara for her "exemplary commitment to pro bono service throughout her career."

Chuck Temple, director of the civil law practice clinic at the law school, provided some context for the award with his remembrance of Friedman, the dynamic founder of the clinic, who inspired a generation of New Hampshire law students and lawyers with his steadfast dedication to ensuring equal justice for disadvantaged clients. Recalling Friedmanís own description of himself as "comprehensible, comic and cosmic," Temple talked about arguing against Friedman in court and Friedmanís love of basketball.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the NH Bar Associationís Pro Bono Program, and in October, the state celebrated its first Pro Bono Month, an expansion of the national Pro Bono Week established by the American Bar Association.

During FY12, volunteer attorneys donated more than 18,000 hours to represent low-income clients, reports Ginny Martin, director of NHBA Legal Services. Figures show that last year, 3,352 people Ė clients and their families Ė were helped through Pro Bono by the volunteer efforts of more than 1,000 attorneys and their support staff. Their contributions of time and talent are maximized by the coordination, training and support efforts of the Barís Pro Bono staff.

McNamara, of Amherst, is an attorney at Upton and Hatfield and a 1977 graduate of UNH Law (then called the Franklin Pierce Law Center) and recently served as NHBA President (2010-11). McNamara, a longtime Pro Bono volunteer, also served on the Pro Bono Governing Board, and served for eight years as executive director of the Legal Advice & Referral Center.

McNamara said there is payment for pro bono work; it just doesnít come in dollars.

McNamara gained experience and education from the pro bono clients she has represented and she remembers fondly the day a woman in the grocery store, upon recognizing her, shouted, "Hey, thatís the woman who helped me get my kids back!"

"Thatís all the thanks I need," she said.

UNH Law School Dean John Broderick stressed that encouraging lawyers to do pro bono work is about more than altruism and living fulfilling professional lives.

"Itís about the promise of the justice system," he said.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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