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Bar News - July 19, 2013

Presidentís Perspective: A Story about Leadership and Walking on the Grass


I attended Elmira College, a small liberal arts college in western New York, for my undergraduate degree. Elmira has gorgeous grounds with impeccable landscaping. The campus is crisscrossed with paths made of octagonal bricks.

Every fall, I went through leadership training at Elmira. The dean in charge of the grounds and maintenance spoke with us each year and gave the same speech. His basic message was, walk on the paths, not the grass. The grass is for playing, not walking. Walking on the grass will create new paths that kill the grass. His mantra was, ďYou are the leaders.Ē

ďIf you walk on the grass, they will follow you,Ē he told us.

I have decided to test his theory. During this year as New Hampshire Bar Association president, Iím going to walk on the grass. Follow me onto to the grass to create new paths, not to kill the grass, but to explore potentially better ways of getting from one place to another.

The majority of my work with the bar association has involved working with new and younger lawyers, encouraging them to take more active roles in the bar association and their profession. Through the years, we have struggled to understand why younger lawyers donít become active. We have heard many reasons: The bar association is an old boysí club; I have a young family and canít spare the time; Iím an associate in my firm and I need to work to try to make partner; itís just not a place for me; I donít feel welcome.

Well, Iím here to sayÖ Iím not old. And Iím not a boy. I have a young family. I began my bar activities when I was an associate trying to become a partner in my firm. Iím a relatively new partner in my firm. So, many of these ďobstaclesĒ can be overcome. This leads me to the conclusion that there is something else keeping young attorneys from becoming more actively involved.

I understand that some younger attorneys do not feel welcomed at bar association events, meetings, and activities. As president of this Association, Iím here to say that you are welcome. If you want to become involved in this bar association, I will find a place for you. I want to appoint you to committees and boards. I want to meet you at our social events.

We want you to feel welcome and comfortable. So, give us a try. Iíd like to make a promise to all of the younger lawyers out there: If you show up, we will welcome you, listen to you, and make changes to stay relevant and vital as the voice of our profession for all of our members.

Whether you are young or not so young, a solo practitioner or a member of a large firm, whether you practice in Colebrook or Concord, we represent everyone and want every voice to be heard. We are your bar association, and we want you to be active and involved.

Finally, I wish to thank Larry Vogelman for his excellent leadership as Bar president over the past year and the rest of the NHBA Board of Governors and bar membership for choosing me to serve you. I also am grateful to my family, friends, firm and partners, who have encouraged me to serve as a Bar leader and who have sacrificed so that I may do so.

Jaye Rancourt

Jaye Rancourt is the 2013-14 president of the NH Bar Association and practices with the law firm of Brennan Caron Lenehan & Iacopino 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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