Bar News - December 17, 2014
Bar Governance: Rural Practice Outreach Efforts Continue
By: Dan Wise
NH Bar Association President Lisa Wellman-Ally recently reported to the NHBA Board about efforts to identify strategic partners for the association’s Rural Practice Initiative, which seeks to encourage and support attorneys in setting up law practices in underserved areas of the state.
In November, Wellman-Ally met with interim UNH Law Dean Jordan Budd about rural practice issues, as well as other ways the law school and the bar association can work together in support of the legal community. She also reported meeting with Past NHBA President Philip Waystack and current Coos County Governor Sandra Cabrera, who both practice at the Waystack & Frizzell firm in Colebrook. Wellman-Ally told the Board of Governors that rural-lawyer efforts in other states have emphasized the positive role of lawyers in providing services and support to businesses in rural areas.
Also at its Nov. 20 meeting, the board voted to accept the annual update of the New Hampshire Title Examination Standards, a reference maintained by the NHBA Real Property Section. (See highlights of this year’s revisions.)
Larry Vogelman also provided an update on efforts to secure funding for an independent veterans’ legal project. Vogelman began working on increasing veteran access to legal services during his year as president of the bar association. The “Boots on the Ground” initiative of the Veterans’ Foundation of New Hampshire would provide some direct legal services and would make referrals to other programs, including the NHBA Pro Bono Program. Vogelman says he expects funding for the project will soon come to fruition. The board congratulated Vogelman on his tireless efforts.
The board also received a brief review of the Public Protection Fund annual report for the year ended May 31, 2014, from PPF Committee Chair Thomas Quarles. The fund has a healthy reserve balance of $2.3 million, and no payouts were approved or denied during the reporting year. Seven claims were pending at year end, with six having originated in prior fund years. Most of the claims are pending because all possible third-party recoveries have not been exhausted, or because the claims do not fit the criteria for processing – mainly, because claims cannot proceed unless an attorney has been suspended or disbarred.
According to the report, the total amount of claims outstanding amounted to $6.1 million, but the NH Supreme Court Rule that created the fund has per-attorney and per-claim limitations that would limit payments from the fund to $474,000.