John C. Norton, a driving force behind efforts in New Hampshire to enable volunteer lawyers to provide legal assistance to the poor, recently stepped down as chair of the NHBA Pro Bono Governing Policy Board after 12 years.
Brian Shaughnessy, of the firm Kazan, Shaughnessy, Kasten & MacDonald in Manchester, takes over as chair of the board this month.
A solo attorney in Keene, Norton has been providing pro bono legal assistance on a variety of matters to low-income clients since 1973. He has been an articulate and impassioned voice in the Bar Association’s Pro Bono program for the solo and small firm attorneys that comprise a large percentage of the Bar and the Pro Bono volunteer ranks.
“John’s unwavering dedication and leadership the past dozen years have been instrumental in the Pro Bono Program’s vitality and success,” said Ginny Martin, NHBA director of legal services. “He is a true Pro Bono hero.”
Norton is a longtime member of the Ethics Committee and was a principal author of a new set of rules adopted by the NH Supreme Court regarding limited-scope representation. New Hampshire’s “unbundled” rules serve as a national model for enabling attorneys, in both pro bono and compensated work, to improve the public’s access to legal advice. Norton also helped champion a revision of Rule 6.1 of the NH Rules of Professional Conduct to underline the importance of fulfilling the pro bono rule through service to the underprivileged.
Norton joined the Pro Bono board in 1994 and was elected chair in 2001 after serving several years as vice chair. He will remain on the board as Shaughnessy takes over the leadership role.
“Brian’s strong commitment to Pro Bono and its mission will allow for a smooth transition and continuation of the NHBA Pro Bono Program’s tradition of excellence,” Martin said.
At a meeting in May, fellow board members and Pro Bono staff celebrated Norton’s tenure. Staff members presented him with a scrapbook filled with photos, Bar News clippings and other remembrances as a memento, in appreciation of his years of service as board chair.