Bar News - July 15, 2015
President’s Perspective: The Lorax and the New Hampshire Bar Association
By: Mary E. Tenn
Many of us are familiar with the story The Lorax, first published in 1971, by the famed children’s illustrator and author Theodor Seuss Geisel. With colorful imagery and rhythmic language, Dr. Seuss tells the tale of rapid, ever-expanding commercialism and the destructive consequences that follow unrestrained consumption of natural resources. For those of us with children, we see their young impressionable faces saddened by the disappearing cotton-candy-like Truffula trees and the dislocation of those ever-so-cute brown Bar-ba-Loots.
Seuss’ story when first published quickly became an environmental anthem for change. In the decades since, The Lorax has become an enduring call to action, sounding the importance of individual participation and service in our world. Ending with one of his most famous quotes, through the mouth of the Lorax, Dr. Seuss cautions: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Seuss’ message is apt for us as lawyers, and as members of the New Hampshire Bar Association. Active participation is fundamental to preserve the goodness of what we have in our Association, and to meet the challenges of the day. Seuss’ simple message of service resonates beyond environmental concerns, encouraging each one of us to be actively engaged in our profession.
I am honored to serve as the president of the New Hampshire Bar Association this year; and, just as the Lorax, invite you to take an active role in our Association. Our Bar Association, first established in 1873 by a special act of the legislature, is the oldest statewide bar association in the country. We have a storied history of robust member participation, consequential actions and many congenial gatherings.
The early members of the New Hampshire Bar – Daniel Webster, Samuel Livermore and Justice Doe, to name a few – recognized the essential role of lawyers in a free society. They left a legacy of service, camaraderie, civility and professionalism that has become the hallmark of our association.
Today, the legal profession, in New Hampshire and across the country, faces challenges to be sure. There are those who question the value of professional associations. The American Bar Association has launched a committee to study the future of the legal profession, and legal scholars write that the profession is in a period of great stress and change.
Law schools nationally face precipitous and significant decline in student enrollment, and those students that graduate law school search for employment with hefty law school debt.
At this time, the value of your participation in our association cannot be overstated. Our Association has 5,360 active members, representing all attorneys licensed to practice in our state. Our charge is to serve our members, and in so doing, we also have a special obligation to serve the profession, the people of New Hampshire, and the cause of justice.
Because of the participation of our members, our association remains relevant and consequential. As just one example, bar association gatherings give members both formal and informal opportunities to interact with each other. These personal connections matter. As members of this association, we are custodians of the spirit of civility and professionalism that enhances the practice of law in our state.
In the year ahead, I hope we will begin a conversation about professionalism in the 21st century, and what is required of us to meet the challenges in an evolving era of our profession. I hope each of you will continue to participate in our association, in whatever way best fits your practice, and join us as we chart a course for the future.
In the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., father of the late Justice Holmes, “the great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction are we moving.” I think the Lorax would agree.