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Bar News - May 20, 2015

Bar Governance: NH Bar Association Elects New Board Members


A newcomer to the NH Bar Association Board of Governors, J. Christopher Marshall, has been elected to serve in the board seat representing attorneys practicing in the public sector.

Marshall, who ran successfully against Claremont City Solicitor Jane Taylor for the position, works at the NH Attorney General’s Office as appointed counsel to the NH Insurance Department.

A native of Conway, Marshall attended Dartmouth College and George Washington University Law School before being admitted to the bar in 1973. After practicing at the McLane Firm, he was appointed in 1996 as US Bankruptcy Trustee for Region 1 (New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island). After another stint in private practice, he returned to the public sector in 2005.

Danielle Vanderzanden, a shareholder at Ogletree Deakins in Boston, is the first NH Bar member to be elected to the out-of-state governor seat on the board, which was created last year in recognition of a growing population of Bar members whose primary offices are outside New Hampshire. After being appointed to hold the seat on an interim basis, she ran successfully against Donald Frechette.

A 1993 graduate of Boston College Law School, Vanderzanden focuses her practice in the area of labor and employment law. She has many years of experience litigating in the US Court of Appeals, First and Second Circuits, and in the state and federal courts in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

Paul Chant, a partner at Cooper Cargill Chant in North Conway, was elected as an at-large governor. Chant, who served on the board from 1994 to 1999, is a past chair of the NHBA New Lawyers Committee, the NH Bar Foundation Board of Directors and the NH Association of Justice.

Nearly 20 percent of the 5,331 NH Bar Association members who were eligible to vote did so in the online election held in early April.

The new board members will take office in June when President-elect Mary Tenn succeeds Lisa Wellman-Ally as NHBA president, with David Ruoff and Scott Harris taking office as president-elect and vice president, respectively. Rob Howard, currently treasurer, moves to secretary, and Peter Hutchins was elected treasurer.

Christopher Regan was elected to return as an at-large governor on the board.

Reelected as county governors were: Richard Guerriero, Cheshire; Sandra Cabrera, Coos; Ora Schwartzberg, Grafton; James Shepard, Merrimack; and Patrick O’Day, Rockingham. County governors serve two-year terms.

At its April 16 meeting, the NHBA Board of Governors received a proposal to extend “pro bono active status,” a membership status created in 2003 to encourage volunteer attorneys otherwise retired from the practice of law, to take cases referred through the the NH Bar Association Pro Bono Referral Program. The proposal would extend this membership status to the other core civil legal services organizations in the state: NH Legal Assistance; the Legal Advice and Referral Center and the Disability Rights Center.

The proposal was referred to the NHBA Committee on the Administration of the Bar for recommendations regarding the necessary changes to the association’s bylaws.

Richard Samdperil, co-chair of the NHBA Criminal Law Section, updated the board on the court’s felony case flow working group and the “Felonies First” bill that was still pending before the House Judiciary Committee as of press time.

Samdperil said work is ongoing to update the rules of criminal procedure in a way that represents “a fairly significant change to criminal procedure in New Hampshire.”

“I think it will be very important for the bar and other groups throughout the state to monitor this going forward,” he said, adding that he believes personalities and conversations, not uniformity and speed, drive justice in the state’s courtrooms.

The “Felonies First” bill, which would have all felonies filed only in Superior Court, has divided the defense bar, with many private defense attorneys opposing it for various reasons. Some have argued the new system would be a blow to due process, but there has not been much discussion in public about the potential impact to firms’ billing practices or legal costs for arrestees.

“The financial aspect is certainly something to watch,” Samdperil told the board last month.

Some board members wondered whether the new system might end up reducing judge time for civil cases in Superior Court, but court officials maintain it would save both time and money without sacrificing justice.

If the House Judiciary Committee votes in favor of the bill this month, it will go before the full House.

In other news, Russ Hilliard and Jon Ross reported to the board about their attendance at ABA Day in Washington, DC, in April. ABA Day is the annual “lobby day” that brings together ABA and bar leaders from across the country to discuss issues related to the profession with congressional delegations. Hilliard and Ross said they have built strong relationships through the event over the years and encouraged bar officers and executive staff to consider participating next year.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 21, at the NH Bar Center in Concord.

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