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Bar News - June 18, 2014

President's Perspective: Thanks for Walking With Me This Year


It is with some sadness that I write this, my last Bar News article as president of the New Hampshire Bar Association. One year ago, I asked you to follow me, walk on the grass with me, along this path of leadership. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting many of you along this path. I have formed close bonds with many of you that have helped to pick me up and dust me off when I stumbled. It has been my great pleasure to serve this organization for the past year and I thank you all for walking, running, stumbling, and, at times, crawling with me across the grass.

Our teen dating violence project, When Love Hurts, was a huge success, thanks in large part to the committee of volunteers that helped to create the curriculum and those volunteers that have presented the program in schools across the state. So far, we have reached more than 500 students with this important information about the growing problem of teen relationship violence, and we continue to receive requests to present the program next fall. We hope to reach more than 1,000 New Hampshire high school students before we are done. We are also being asked to present the program to the YWCA and Boys and Girls Clubs across the state. This is such an important topic, and I could not be more proud of the program.

We continue to encourage our members to the take the 2014 Justice for All Challenge. We hope to have more than 1,000 attorneys pledge to complete the Challenge by March 2015. Through this ongoing project, we encourage every attorney in the New Hampshire to complete 30 hours of pro bono service (through the NHBA Pro Bono Program and/or the many other avenues for providing this service) between now and March 2015. All you need to do is sign up, complete the hours of service, and report back. It’s quick and easy. We know that attorneys in New Hampshire give back to the poor and underprivileged members of our communities every day. We want to quantify and praise that good work. Please help us make this project a success!

My other goal for the year was to continue to encourage and support the involvement of new and young lawyers in our association. We featured a “New Lawyer Showcase” at the Midyear Meeting that included presentations by several new faces of the bar. Many members in attendance praised the initiative and thanked us for bringing the concerns of newer lawyers to their attention. We know that many new lawyers are struggling financially and, in response, have attempted to make the NHBA Annual Meeting more affordable.

These accomplishments and the numerous other initiatives and projects we have undertaken this year (strategic planning for the NHBA, assisting with a new and improved NHMCLE reporting mechanism, online dues payment, and an improved free legal research tool for members... just to name a few) would not have been possible without dedicated volunteers and excellent staff.

First, let me thank the staff of the NHBA. Without the work of our excellent staff, nothing that we attempt to accomplish would come to fruition. NHBA Executive Director Jeannine McCoy will probably not miss my phone call every morning while I drive to my office. She knows all too well my son’s preschool schedule and knows when I’ll be back in the car and on my way to the office. Her staff in the executive department, Denice DeStefano, Valenda Morrissette and Deborah Hawkins, have helped keep me on schedule and on task... and that is not always easy!

I’d also like to thank Dan Wise and Kristen Senz for so expertly walking me through my contact with various media outlets this past year. Last but not least, thank you to Robin Knippers, without whom our teen dating violence project would not have become a reality. Her enthusiasm and dedication to this project was infectious. All the staff dedicate 100 percent effort at all times, and it is greatly appreciated.

Thank you to the volunteer leaders on the NHBA Board of Governors. Your trust in me has been overwhelming. You followed me down some paths that you may have questioned at first, but I think we agree that the final outcomes of our efforts have been successful.

Thank you to all the volunteer leaders that have participated by serving on committees and sections. The Gender Equality Committee has stepped up to perform a great service for the legal community, and while much of this work has occurred behind closed doors, your efforts have been appreciated.

The Committee on Cooperation with the Courts has been hard at work encouraging important dialogue between our Association and the Courts. Our Legislative Committee worked tirelessly, as usual, reviewing hundreds of pieces of legislation this past legislative session. The New Lawyers Committee sponsored many events for new lawyers and volunteered their time at New Horizons. Much of this work goes on without our general membership knowing about it, but it impacts every single one of us. It makes me proud to be a member of the New Hampshire Bar Association.

Thank you for a great year and I look forward to supporting our next president, Lisa Wellman-Ally, as she takes the gavel and continues to lead us toward great things.

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