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Bar News - November 19, 2014

Bar Governance: Board Supports Judicial Council on Appointed Lawyer Pay


The NH Bar Association Board of Governors at its Oct. 16 meeting expressed support for an increase in appointed-counsel fees in major crime cases from $60 to $100 per hour.

The board’s action endorsed the decision of the NH Judicial Council to request an increase in the fees. The Judicial Council also recently established qualification standards for court-appointed attorneys. Appointed counsel are needed when the NH Public Defender cannot take the case and contract counsel are not available. The appointed counsel rate was last increased in 1994, from $35 to $60 per hour. The increased compensation will be included in the Judicial Council’s budget request in the next budget cycle.

Derek Lick, the Bar Association’s appointee on the NH Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules, reported on several proposals to be discussed at the committee’s Dec. 12 public hearing. (See public hearing.) Among the proposals Lick highlighted were provisions relating to the confidentiality of some attorney discipline records as part of a revamp of the procedural rules of the Attorney Discipline Office and the Professional Conduct Committee, extending IOLTA requirements to attorneys working for title companies, and continuity of counsel in criminal cases.

At the request of Cecie Hartigan, executive director of the NH Lawyers Assistance Program, the board supported the circulation of a confidential national survey on substance abuse, depression and anxiety among members of the legal profession. The national survey is being conducted by the ABA in collaboration with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. The NH Bar Association will circulate a link to the survey next month. (See related article.)

Also at the October meeting, the board authorized the Bar Association to enter into negotiations for a long-term lease of 2,540 square-feet of office space in a suite adjoining the existing NH Bar Center on the third floor at 2 Pillsbury St. in Concord. Backers of the move said securing a lease would enable the Bar Association to secure convenient space for potential future space needs, and that opportunities exist to sublet the space. The Bar Association staff also has explored several options to make use of the space, including earning income by renting rooms for mediations or depositions.

The board also voted to appoint Danielle Vanderzanden, a Bar member who lives in Exeter and practices employment and labor law with the Ogletree Deakins firm in Boston, to the newly created at-large seat for out-of-state NHBA board members.

“I am looking forward to participating,” said Vanderzanden. “My practice takes me into Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. I have spent a lot of time practicing in New Hampshire. There are definitely some nuances about how to practice here. This board seat is a good opportunity to provide a liaison between the bar association and members from outside the state, and a good way to find expertise in the bar and better understand the rules of procedure in New Hampshire.”

Members with offices or living out-of-state account for one-third of the Bar members on active status. The at-large board member will be elected by the entire membership. Vanderzanden will serve until the next Board election in April.

In other news, David Ruoff, NHBA vice president, and Jaye Rancourt, immediate past president, attended a strategic planning session of the Access to Justice Commission. All five members of the NH Supreme Court attended the session, led by a consultant on legal services planning and funded by an ABA grant. Ruoff and Rancourt reported that the discussion was focused and meaningful, and will be continued at another meeting in November.

Several members of the board toured the Bar Center offices and met staff before the start of the meeting.

The Board of Governors next meets on Nov. 20, at the Bar Center.

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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