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Bar News - April 19, 2013

New Lawyer Column: A Young Lawyer’s Reminder: Appreciate New Hampshire


This past February, I was in Dallas for the American Bar Association Midyear Meeting as the Young Lawyers Division District 3 Representative. It was once again a very enjoyable and informative conference with members from all across the country. In my time away from meetings and assemblies, I had an opportunity to socialize with countless new practitioners. In these conversations, I soon discovered a common theme among many of my contemporaries - disenchantment.

I don’t propose these individuals were disenchanted with the practice of law so much as the community within which they practice. Those who elaborated seemed to indicate a lack of connection with anything beyond files and an office. It seemed many of their communities and local bar associations did not offer, at least in their opinion, the appropriate support and guidance necessary for a budding professional. What’s more, these young practitioners had yet to establish any type of connection with seasoned bar members in their respective areas. To them, an event where one could comfortably mingle with judges and accomplished attorneys seemed highly improbable.

And this problem was not unique to any one particular area of people. This cloud of dissatisfaction seemed to hover over practitioners from a variety of locales: cities like Chicago, Houston, and Baltimore, as well as small towns in California, Virginia, and Montana. How come?

Seymour Sarason, the noted psychologist, once proposed: "The key to overcoming many social problems is the creation and maintenance of a sense of belonging, responsibility, and purpose in the day-to-day lives of people at the community level" – a concept not lost on New Hampshire.

Having grown up in Berlin, attended law school in Concord, and now working in Keene, I’ve experienced a broad range of communities in New Hampshire. Though quite different in their respective politics, interests, or education levels, for example, each still shares the common thread of care and support for their own, and steadfast willingness to nurture growth and development. A young professional’s development is aptly fostered by many of the communities here in New Hampshire and especially our Bar Association.

Both New Hampshire and the Bar Association continue to provide new practitioners with opportunities for involvement; whether it be through committees, section memberships, the NHWBA, or the Leadership Academy at the Bar level, or Rotary Clubs, soup kitchens, Chamber of Commerce, or local government at the community level. Additionally, new practitioners in need of guidance can find support in the New Lawyers Committee Mentor Program. Considering these opportunities, a newly admitted attorney in New Hampshire would be hard pressed to echo the sentiments that so many in Dallas shared.

Still, there’s no denying that this profession is a grind. One moment we’re praised, the next reviled. It’s incessantly unforgiving. But we toil and tinker, and when possible, we round off those edges with involvement and charity. Little by little, and with the right guidance, we as young practitioners develop a sense of belonging, responsibility, and purpose in our day-to-day lives here in New Hampshire.

Appreciate that we are given this opportunity.

Quinn E. Kelley

Quinn E. Kelley is an associate at Bradley & Faulkner, P.C. in Keene. He practices in the areas of civil litigation, business law, real estate, and municipal law. He is the ABA Young Lawyers Division District 3 Representative for New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

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