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Bar News - May 20, 2015

Future Legal Leaders Explore Ideas


Leadership Academy students lead symposium on future of NH legal community

Nicholas Casolaro, member of the NHBA Leadership Academy Class of 2015, responds to an audience question. Also at the table, Jacob Marvelley, Joseph Driscoll, Kathleen Mahan, and Kristin Ross.

John Garvey shows some carbon paper during his talk about change in the legal profession.
To culminate its year of study, the NH Bar Association Leadership Academy Class of 2015 recently presented a symposium, “Leading into the Future: The Future of the Legal Profession in New Hampshire,” before an audience of about 50 attorneys and judges.

Member of the Leadership Academy Class of 2015, split into three teams, addressed the future of the bar association, the legal profession, and the growing gap between civil legal needs and services for rural residents in New Hampshire.

The audience included Hon. Joseph Laplante, chief judge of the US District Court, NH Supreme Court justices Gary Hicks and Robert Lynn, as well as other state court judges, NHBA officers, and several past Leadership Academy graduates.

The future of the bar association presentation focused on the need for the bar to offer more resources to advise attorneys on technology in law practice.

The group examining the future of law practice covered several issues but most of its discussion centered on work-life balance. It sought advice from a focus group, comprised of attorneys from a range of age groups and practice settings. The consensus of the focus group was that legal employers do not have a responsibility to provide “work-life balance” and that legal profession has a steep learning curve, requiring that people new to it to work long hours. The Leadership Academy team countered with recommendations of its own, contending that better outcomes might result from treating employees better, and that more innovation in client services could aid law firms in the future.

The final group presented a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the justice gap, which is felt most acutely in rural areas. Team members presented recorded interviews with legal leaders, including North Country native Supreme Court Justice Gary Hicks and NHBA President Lisa Wellman-Ally. Statistics showed that more than 156,830 New Hampshire residents live in towns with no lawyers, and another 70,705 people live in towns with no more than one attorney in private practice. The group supports the NHBA’s rural lawyer initiative and urged more collaboration with law schools in northern New England to target prospects interested in rural practice.

The event wrapped up with remarks by keynote speaker John Garvey, director of the Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, and a reception in the lower level seminar room at the Bar Center.

While acknowledging the challenges of a changing legal market, Garvey was upbeat about the future for lawyers in New Hampshire. “The market is changing, but not all of the business is going away. We must adapt to survive.” He encouraged audience members to reflect on why they went to law school, and then to think about rewarding moments in their work. “Those kinds of cases are still going to be there.”

The symposium was the service project component of the NHBA Leadership Academy, which is offered every other year to develop leadership skills in lawyers in practice 3 to 10 years. Members also participated in five educational modules and an opening retreat.

Learn more about the NHBA Leadership Academy.

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