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Bar News - August 20, 2014

Opinion: Finding a Mentor Is Key for New Lawyers


John Ward
Finding a good mentor is one of the first and most important things a lawyer who is newly admitted to the New Hampshire bar should do.

The New Hampshire bar is a close-knit group, and many attorneys here are more than happy to offer some of their time to answer legal questions or to answer questions regarding the business aspects of practicing law, such as client development, fee agreements and billing.

Jim Normand was my mentor during my first year of practice. He took the time to show me the ropes and provided me with insight on not only legal issues, but the business of law and how to build a successful practice.

I also sought guidance from other seasoned practitioners, such as Dick Moquin, John Kenison Jr., John FitzGerald, Brien Ward and several others. My practice has and continues to seek guidance and advice from several different lawyers with different backgrounds and styles, which has allowed me to combine different approaches and find the best solutions for my clients and my practice.

Hereís a quick compilation of the best pieces of advice I have received from the folks listed above: Try a good case fast, a bad case faster; donít let your personality get in the way of your client; donít be afraid to tell a judge when they are wrong (respectfully); under promise and over deliver, never do the opposite; and learn from your staff.

I know that not everyone has someone who is readily available to answer questions, and especially solo practitioners may find practice difficult at first without a seasoned veteran nearby.

Thatís why the NHBA Mentor Program is a great opportunity for new lawyers. The Bar Association works very hard to match new lawyers with those who practice in the same areas of the law. This allows newly admitted members to have someone to bounce ideas off of and learn business skills as they grow their practices.

I echo NHBA President Lisa Wellman-Allyís call this month in asking that any seasoned attorneys reading this please consider volunteering as a mentor. Although the Bar Association works hard to match the mentors with any lawyer who wants a mentor, there are gaps in the system, especially in the North Country.

If you have time to serve as a mentor, please consider doing so, either on your own or by the NHBA program. If you are a new lawyer and looking for a mentor, please contact Rosemarie Atwood, NHBA member services coordinator, at the Bar Center or by email at

John L. Ward is an attorney with Patch & FitzGerald in Manchester.

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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