Bar News - January 15, 2014
Bar Governance: Brainstorming About the Bar Association’s Future Direction
By: Dan Wise
Officers, board members and managers of the NH Bar Association met for a daylong strategic planning session on Dec. 6.
Armed with observations from more than a dozen focus groups of legal community stakeholders, as well as results of surveys of new lawyers, public sector members, out-of-state members, and others, the group compiled a list of areas of concern the Bar Association should address in the years ahead.
The discussion was facilitated by Elizabeth Derrico, of the Division for Bar Services of the American Bar Association, who is well-known to the Bar Association. Derrico, who travels all over the country consulting with and learning from bar associations, knows the New Hampshire Bar Association particularly well, having served on a team that conducted a comprehensive operations audit of the New Hampshire Bar Association in 2008. Derrico directed the outreach effort, conducted by a small group of Bar Association volunteers including board members and newer members of the bar. She synthesized the feedback from the surveys, focus groups and interviews conducted by the strategic initiative team members into a series of assumptions about the potential future or futures of the bar association that served as a springboard for the retreat’s discussion.
Derrico is in the process of compiling the results of the discussion that will be used by the Board of Governors and Strategic initiative work group to identify and precisely state the bar’s priorities and decide on short-term action steps to address concerns, challenges, and opportunities. NHBA Executive Director Jeannine McCoy said the process will go beyond the development of a plan with goals and objectives and action steps to include the development of a monitoring process to ensure the Association stays headed in the chosen direction.
The NHBA Board of Governors held a special session on Dec. 2 to meet with four recent nominees to the NH Circuit Court. (The Board provides confidential input to the Governor and Executive Council on state judicial nominees.)
Bylaw Changes Approved
At a Dec. 12 special membership meeting held at the Bar Center, members in attendance voted to approve a package of amendments to the NHBA Constitution and Bylaws.
The amendments to the bar’s constitution now await approval by the NH Supreme Court. Once approved, the amendments to Article VI of the bylaws and Article V of the constitution would create an at-large seat to represent out-of-state members on the board of governors. To seek the seat, a member would have to practice from an office located outside of New Hampshire; election, like all at-large seats, would be by the membership as a whole and would be for a three-year term. or later action.
Other amendments approved by the member vote included:
• Article IV, of the constitution, to allow a past president to serve a second term as president of the association (with at least 10 years intervening between terms).
• Article II, Section 3, of the constitution, to create a part-time judicial membership category. This would allow for a dues category, similar to the judicial category, for those active-status members with part-time judicial appointments who have given up their practices to serve as judges on a nearly full-time basis.
• Article II, Section 6, of the constitution, to reduce by two months the timeframe for members to pay their annual dues before they are administratively suspended.
• Article IX, of the bylaws, to provide a more flexible structure for NH Bar members to work on relevant issues.
• Article X, of the bylaws, clarifies that individual sections determine what policies can limit or govern the participation of “subscribers” – non-members of the association permitted to join some sections.