Bar News - March 19, 2014
Bar Governance: Board Approves Dues Category, Client Indemnity Fund Decision
By: Dan Wise
The NHBA Board of Governors at its March 6 meeting approved a “part-time judicial” dues category for attorneys who sit on a part-time basis and are not engaged in the practice of law. The dues will be equivalent to the “inactive” status dues. The new dues category was created following approval of an amendment to the bar association constitution by a membership vote held Dec. 12, 2013. The new dues category remedies a situation where attorneys with part-time judicial appointments, who have given up their practices to concentrate on judicial assignments, were required to pay active-status dues.
The board also received an update on the work of the Leadership Academy Steering Committee, which is preparing programming for the Class of 2015. After running the program for three consecutive years, Leadership Academy was on hiatus this year, but will select a new class this summer and hold programming in 2014-2015. Paul Pudlowski, co-chair of the steering committee, said the group is working to enhance programming and to spread awareness of the program. New Hampshire is the only bar association in New England with a leadership training program. (See the latest in a series of testimonials written by alumni of NHBA Leadership Academy.)
At its Feb. 20 meeting, the board reviewed and approved the decision of the Client Indemnity Fund, the predecessor to the Public Protection Fund, that was reconstituted for the purpose of hearing a single claim. An investigation resulted in the denial of a 26-year-old claim on the fund, because the claimant, within the two-year time period required to file a claim, “was aware of facts upon which a reasonable person should conclude” that a dishonest act was committed, but did not file a claim with the fund.
A 17-page order, which demonstrated the depth of the CIF’s investigation, provided evidence that the claimant, at the time of the alleged incident, had questioned the fate of the insurance payment, but had not reported it to the police or other law enforcement. There also was some conflicting evidence provided by the claimant that the insurance payment may have been actually paid to the beneficiary.
The board also approved for publication an ethics opinion regarding attorneys’ participating for marketing purposes in “Groupon” type website promotions or prepaid discount programs. View the full opinion.
The board was briefed on the activities of the Warren Rudman Center for Public Policy at the UNH School of Law, including the continuation of its Public Interest Coalition fellowships, which provide stipends for law students working summers at public interest or public sector law internships. Half of the fellowships, usually 20 per year, are in New Hampshire. The Pro Bono Referral Program has, in past years, been the beneficiary of law students supported by PIC.
To address board vacancies representing the public sector and out-of-state members, the board appointed a subcommittee to recommend candidates for interim appointment.
At both the Feb. 20 and the March 6 meetings, the board was updated on the Superior Court’s administrative rule changes to advance early case resolutions for felonies. See related article. At the March 6 meeting, the board received a briefing on the changes and the process by which the Superior Court is gathering input, from Richard Samdperil, co-chair of the NHBA Criminal Law Section. He said the work group, originally consisting entirely of court staff and judges, has been widened to include defense attorneys, prosecutors, and, recently, a police chief.