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Bar News - April 19, 2013

Presidentís Perspective: Association to Address the Aging of the Bar


One cannot fail to notice the graying of our profession. New Hampshire is one of the "oldest" states in the country, and our bar reflects that. The average age of a lawyer in New Hampshire, I have been told, is 50. Unfortunately, it has been many years since I passed that milestone.

In any event, the number of Baby Boomers in our bar presents issues that many of us would rather not deal with. Some say with age comes wisdom; that might be true, but with age also comes other issues. I find that I no longer have illnesses or injuries; I now just have conditions. Unfortunately, for some of us, these conditions interfere with our ability to practice law.

When I first became President of the NH Bar Association, dealing with issues peculiarly relevant to senior members of the Bar was one of my goals. The Bar is now trying to address these issues.

When a lawyer is looking to retire, what happens with his or her clients? What does a solo practitioner do to get assistance near the end of her career? What does a young lawyer do when she sees an older lawyer in the firm mishandling cases due to forgetfulness, or even dementia? What do partners in a firm do when it is time to tell a senior partner that the time has come to retire? What do judges and lawyers do when they see a lawyer in court who is obviously "not with it"?

These are not easy questions to answer. For many of us, our profession is our identity. Taking away our ability to practice law would be like telling somebody else that they are too old to drive a car. No one wants to hear it.

Our annual meeting this year will be held June 21-22 in Portsmouth. At that meeting, we will have a program with a national speaker that will try to address many of the concerns I have mentioned here. Whether you are a Baby Boomer like me, or a young lawyer just starting out, this program will be very informative and helpful.

Please join us in June, and please look for articles in the NH Bar News addressing these topics. You can join the conversation online through the Barís social media sites or by sending an email or letter to the communications staff at the NHBA.

Lawrence A. Vogelman

Larry Vogelman is the 2012-13 president of the New Hampshire Bar Association and practices with the law firm of Nixon, Vogelman, Barry, Slawsky & Simoneau in Manchester.

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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