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Bar News - April 15, 2015

New Strategic Plan to Guide Bar Operations

NHBA Strategic Plan – 2014-2017
Goal Area 1

Supporting lawyers in the practice of law. Strategic priorities in this area include providing members with resources and information, assisting members with career development, engaging members with one another and the association and meeting the intergenerational needs of lawyers.

Goal Area 2

Ensuring the courts remain fair, impartial and accessible to all. Priorities in this area include advocating for adequate funding for the courts and legal services, supporting the bar’s Pro Bono and other legal services programs, collaborating with all branches of government and the law school to address issues that impeded the administration of justice, and fostering public respect and confidence in the justice system and the role of lawyers in society.

Goal Area 3

Acting as a facilitator and convener for all parties interested in the judicial system, the practice of law, and the administration of justice generally. Here, priorities include establishing open and continuing dialogue, and promoting the bar association as a resource for those interested in advancing a just society.

Goal Area 4

Acting as the key association for the legal profession. This includes effective communication with members, organizational governance, and priority-setting procedures, as well was ensuring financial solvency and supporting a mutually efficacious relationship with the New Hampshire Bar Foundation, the association’s philanthropic arm.

Learn more about the NHBA Strategic Plan.

Neither the telephone nor the phonograph had yet been invented in 1873, when the New Hampshire Bar Association became the first “modern state bar association,” incorporated by a special act of the State Legislature. The country was still reeling from the Civil War, and life in New Hampshire was vastly more agricultural than is easily imagined today. Only men joined the bar, and the hanging of convicts was still common.

Over the ensuing 142 years, as New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Bar Association have evolved (the New Hampshire Supreme Court first unified the bar in 1969), the association has taken on various forms, purposes and initiatives. A recent effort to solidify its organizational priorities seeks to lead the association in a transition designed to focus activities on a few key goal areas, as the association and its members navigate a fast-changing world and profession.

“With changes in the profession, society and associations in general, now is a key time for the NHBA to make choices about its preferred future, and to be sure we are obtaining and focusing resources on the right things for that future,” said Jeannine McCoy, executive director of the NH Bar Association.

Today, the association’s mission is to “Supporting members of the legal profession and their service to the public and the justice system.” This can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, especially in a mandatory-membership professional association, with members spread across many age groups, practice areas and geographic locations, all with good ideas and sharpened advocacy skills. Meanwhile, trends and changes within the justice system and the national and state economies continue to make the association’s mission fluid, with a tendency to broaden with each new idea or leader.

To establish a clear direction for the next five years, the association in 2013 embarked on a strategic planning process designed to incorporate the views of members – including attorneys who are seasoned and new to the practice, living in rural and urban areas, and working in private and public interest career settings – as well as the court, leadership, staff and a variety of other stakeholders.

Working with professional strategists, an initial strategic planning committee conducted surveys, interviews and focus group sessions, amassing information and opinions about the association’s current role, its operations and potential paths forward. A subsequent strategic direction committee sought to sift from this the essence of the association’s highest purpose and a set of criteria for measuring whether future activities might further it. A quote used to guide the strategic planning effort came from French writer and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.”

The result is intended as a working document – not a pretty binder that will gather dust on a shelf. Implementation of the plan will influence the structure and content of board and committee agendas, as well as some staff functions and duties. The plan focuses the bar association’s role within the justice system and the social and political landscape of our state as a primary resource and relationship-builder for all parties with an interest in the administration of justice.

“The needs and opportunities today are limitless; this strategic plan provides inspiration and offers focus,” McCoy said. “The goal areas we have identified will guide budget priorities and bring a new look to the meetings of the association’s board of governors.”

The four goal areas delineated in the strategic plan are as follows:

The NHBA is grateful to those who assisted in the strategic planning process, including Elizabeth Derrico, now of the New York State Bar Association, formerly of the American Bar Association Division for Bar Services, who consulted on the project. Cotton Cleveland of Mather Associates consulted on implementation.

The initial strategic planning committee included: current Bar President Lisa Wellman-Ally; past and current chairs of the NHBA New Lawyers Committee Ned Sackman and Liz Leahy, respectively; Quinn Kelly; Leadership Academy alum and association board member Patrick O’Day, past presidents Jennifer Parent, Larry Vogelman and Jaye Rancourt; President-Elect Mary Tenn; board treasurer Rob Howard and McCoy.

Members of the board’s strategic direction committee are: Ed Philpot, Ted Clancy, Scott Harris, Sandra Cabrera, David Ruoff, and Lisa Wellman-Ally, working with the association’s management team.

Please email thoughts or suggestions about the strategic plan to

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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