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Bar News - July 19, 2013

Smooth Sailing for Annual Meeting in Portsmouth

At the NHBA Annual Meeting in Portsmouth last month, there was a dichotomy. Incoming Bar Association President Jaye Rancourt spoke about engaging new lawyers in association activities, and a CLE program addressed the challenges for lawyers reaching retirement age. The New Lawyers Committee drew younger attorneys by hosting an art show and cocktail party; at a luncheon, the decades of service of 50-year members was recognized and revered.

NH’s legal community faces the same challenges and opportunities as its counterparts across the country. And, despite the duality, meetings such as the newly accessible and affordable annual meeting, held June 21-22 in seaside Portsmouth, NH, are meant to help bridge gaps and build understanding among members. The programming sought to provide a variety of offerings, even if it was just a last-minute ethics credit or a chance to reconnect with former colleagues.

The Honors and Awards Luncheon, a highlight of the day, drew about 200 judges and attorneys. NH District Court Clerk Jim Starr received the 2013 NH Bar Distinguished Service to the Profession Award. Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson accepted the Philip Hollman Award for Gender Equality, which was presented by Lauren Simon Irwin, chair of the NHBA Gender Equality Committee, and by Judge Hollman.

Outgoing NHBA President Larry Vogelman presented retired Judge Harold Perkins with the William A. Grimes Award for Judicial Professionalism. Known as a fair and well respected member of the judiciary, Perkins received a standing ovation.

Also receiving special recognition for his devotion to assisting lawyers impaired by substance abuse or mental health issues was John R. Maher, who was stepping down from the NH Lawyers Assistance Commission. Judge Maher was the founder of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers in NH, a self-help group similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, and a longtime member of the all-volunteer Lawyers Assistance Committee that preceded the NHLAP created by the Supreme Court.

The morning CLE program, Gray Matters: Issues and Answers for Aging Lawyers and Their Colleagues, featured Dr. Doris Gunderson, a Colorado psychiatrist and member of the Colorado Attorney Regulatory Committee. Gunderson discussed the dangers of gradual onset impairments that can, often imperceptibly at first, harm one’s ability to practice law. These can include vision and hearing loss, sleep apnea, and stress, in addition to cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease. Her presentation was followed by a panel discussion and questions from the audience.

Cecie Hartigan, executive director of the NH Lawyers Assistance Program (LAPNH), said the session provided a valuable starting point for a longer conversation among lawyers winding down their careers and younger colleagues who are in a position to succeed them.

Arthur Greene, an attorney and law practice consultant, said it’s important for older lawyers to have transition plans in place. “It takes time, so the earlier you start thinking about it, the better,” he said. “It’s not a purchase and sales agreement; it’s your partnership agreement.”

The afternoon CLE sessions were practice-area specific. Members who attended also had an opportunity to hear from Peter Croteau, project manager for the NH e-Court Project, while Jim Corbett of Casemaker provided informal demonstrations to small groups of practitioners, offering tips and tricks for using the free legal research tool.

At the President’s Dinner, Vogelman passed the ceremonial gavel to NH Bar President Rancourt, whose family and friends were in attendance. (Read an edited version of her remarks.)

Richard Uchida, a former NHBA president, received special recognition for helping to launch the NH Bar Association Leadership Academy, which graduated its third class at the meeting. Members of the 2013 Leadership Academy class were introduced and congratulated.

Supreme Court Rule 42(9) requires all NH admitted attorneys to notify the Bar Association of any address change, home or office.

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