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Bar News - April 20, 2016


Honorary NH Bar Members to Be Recognized at Annual Meeting

The NH Bar Association bestows honorary membership status to those attorneys who were admitted to law practice, either in New Hampshire or elsewhere, at least 50 years ago. The 15 honorees this year will be recognized at the NHBA Annual Meeting, scheduled for October 28 at Sheraton in Portsmouth, NH.

Robert F. Bossie


Robert F. Bossie

After eight years as a judge advocate in the NH Air National Guard during the Vietnam War era, New Hampshire native Robert Bossie opened a law office with attorney Larry Kelly in Manchester.

In 1970, his office on Elm Street had three rooms and cost $50 a month, Bossie recalls.

Mostly doing criminal and civil litigation, Bossie’s firm grew to seven attorneys. Then he left to form a new firm with young attorney Andrew K. Wilson, Bossie & Wilson, which continues today.

His law career well-launched, Bossie pursued elective office, serving in the NH Senate for three terms and as an alderman in Manchester, as well as in other city posts and civic groups. Married to Jeannette Gagnon for 42 years, Bossie retired three years ago and enjoys his retirement home in New Castle, NH.

Bossie’s advice to those entering practice now? “Work hard but do not sacrifice your family nor your health to make money. Enjoy the present, not the future. For if you live as if you’ll never die, and are so anxious about the future, then the result will be that you do not live in the present or the future. And then you will die having never really lived.”

Howard Dunn


Howard Dunn

Howard Dunn is a well-traveled country lawyer, who has come full circle.

At 75, he is still practicing law in Claremont and Newport in his own firm.

After growing up on a farm in Iowa, he attended law school in New York City at Columbia. Then he took an unusual turn, signing up for the Peace Corps, which sent him to Lima, Peru. His globe-trotting continued, working for Time Inc., advising corporate executives on magazine acquisitions in Latin America, and then helping the company explore new concepts in cable television – an enterprise that today is known as the premium channel HBO.

Dunn said he longed for life in a community of “manageable size” and he settled in the Newport/Claremont area where he practiced with George Zopf and Robert B. Buckley Sr.

Although he can cite complex cases in which his advocacy made a difference, Dunn today finds satisfaction in estate planning. “I enjoy assisting elderly clients in making their lives more safe, healthy and secure,” he writes.

His advice to new lawyers: “Look it up, even if you think you remember it. When you can, front-load cases, which means be thorough early. Put your files in order now and keep them that way. Work out in the morning of trial or deposition. Give your client any bad news immediately.”


Angelo R. Fisichella,

Angelo R. Fisichella

Angelo R. Fisichella, 77, lives in Florida and is retired. He appreciates the honorary member designation. First admitted to practice in Massachusetts in 1966, Fisichella joined the NH Bar in 1983. “I wanted to be an attorney from the time I was in the eighth grade and achieved that goal with the help of my wonderful parents,” he said.

O. Lee Gregory


O. Lee Gregory

O. Lee Gregory, now retired in Florida, says helping people was what rewarded him as a lawyer; as a real estate investor, that’s where he really made the money.

Gregory obtained a master’s degree in business while serving as a US Army lawyer in southeast Asia and then in Germany, where he represented military personnel charged with crimes, and also served as a judge. He found it gratifying to assist soldiers, and he continued to work in the military justice system as a civilian lawyer.

Eventually, he settled in practice in Carroll County, doing litigation and municipal work, including a particular triumph – in a case with Arthur Greene, he successfully sued the Town of Conway, winning $100,000 in legal fees, proving “malice” in the denial of a building permit.

Gregory believed in informal pro bono and would drastically reduce fees for needy clients – sometimes without telling them what the actual fee would have been. “The client paid and held her head high that she was NOT a burden on the state or a welfare case.”

Gregory’s advice: “Remember your clients are people with feelings – it might be your l00th divorce… but it is a tragic situation for them, and take time to be empathetic. Always give value and keep your (their) costs down.”

John P. Griffith


John Griffith

John Griffith says two of his biggest cases were high-profile defeats. He represented Greek billionaire Aristotle Onassis in an unsuccessful attempt to convert the Isles of Shoals into an oil tanker docking station, and he was on the losing side of the effort to enforce federal highway standards to put a four-lane highway through scenic Franconia Notch.

The son of a NH Superior and NH Supreme Court justice, Robert Frederick Griffith, John Griffith said it was reading a book from his father’s library, My Life in Court, by Louis Nizer, that sold him on becoming a lawyer.

After a long career at Hamblett & Kerrigan in Nashua, Griffith started a solo litigation practice in 1998, which he maintained until he retired in 2014.

His advice to new lawyers: “Never underestimate your opponent. You may be an associate in a big firm, up against an old sole practitioner, but he or she has been at it for a long time and knows all the strategy. Anticipate everything. Even more so, don’t take it personally! Both lawyers are acting for a client and should be able to sit down for a drink after the case is over and laugh together, win, lose or draw.”

James Higgins


James Higgins

Manchester native James Higgins, now 75, is amazed that 50 years in law practice has passed as quickly as it has. He continues to practice full-time at his own law office in Manchester and says he intends to continue working as long as he can.

After graduating from Yale Law School during the height of the Vietnam War, he served as a JAG prosecutor for the Army and as appellate defense counsel at the Pentagon. Following discharge, he joined the Manchester firm of Sheehan, Phinney, Bass + Green in 1969, where he focused on trial work and occasionally, labor relations matters. He left the firm in 2005 to form his own solo firm.

He is proud that several cases he handled have contributed to the common law of the state, including expansion of accountant’s liability to third parties for negligent misrepresentation in unaudited financial statements. As for trial war stories, he fondly recalls his relief at achieving a favorable verdict in a jury trial, overcoming the potential prejudice of jurors when, in the middle of his testimony, a doctor testifying as an expert witness for the opposing side literally leapt to aid an ailing juror.

Higgins contributed to his native city in ways large and small, including calling balls and strikes for little league baseball and serving as president of the Palace Theatre.

His advice for those just starting practice: Do your best for all clients, big or small, rich or poor, and do not cut corners.

Donald Ingram

Donald A. Ingram, who was admitted to New Hampshire and New York bars in 1966 after graduating from Fordham University Law School, is retired and living in Connecticut. Married for 51 years, he has four children. In retirement, he plans to “listen to music and steer clear of lawyers” and his advice for new lawyers was stark and concise: “Get out as soon as you can.”

Paul McEachern


Paul McEachern

Born and raised in Portsmouth, Paul McEachern served in the Navy for four years before finishing college at the University of New Hampshire. While McEachern was in Concord participating in a program as a student legislator, then-Governor John King encouraged him to go to law school.

Admitted to the Bar in 1966, McEachern embarked on a long career that has mixed law, public office, community involvement and Democratic politics. He served five terms in the NH House, was a member of the Portsmouth City Council and, in 1979, he served as legal counsel to Gov. Hugh Gallen. McEachern ran unsuccessfully for governor in primaries in 1984 and 2004, and as the Democratic nominee in 1986 and 1988.

McEachern is a past president of the NH Bar Association (1981-82) and past chair of the NH Bar Foundation. He has been active in many Portsmouth-area organizations, and he proudly cites his role in helping to establish the Prescott Park Arts Festival, a summer-long series of events on an outdoor stage in Portsmouth.

His answers to a questionnaire from Bar News reflected his self-effacing sense of humor. Asked about reaching the 50-year milestone and whether he has retired, McEachern responded: “Thanks for the reminder. I report to work each day.”

As mentors, he cited the late Joe Millimet, who had been legal counsel to Gov. King, and George Pappagianis, a lawyer and legislator who also became a superior court judge. Asked to characterize his practice, McEachern modestly said he has had “no legal specialty,” and has remained at the same firm, now known as Shaines & McEachern, for his entire career, except for his times as an “itinerant politician.”

Asked about accomplishments, McEachern said he was “proud of trying to adapt to change. My most memorable case has been the next case.”

“My legacy, if there is such a thing, are my five children who embody the American dream considering their grandfather got as far as the fourth grade.”

His advice for new lawyers: “Make your own way. A legal education gives you a leg up. Help others.”

Thomas Butler Merritt


Thomas Merritt

Thomas Butler Merritt maintains a solo law practice in Littleton, but most of his career was spent in the Massachusetts judicial branch as a reporter of decisions.

He became interested in constitutional law and public service while attending Harvard University, and said he felt especially privileged to study law under constitutional scholars Paul Freund, Archibald Cox, and Arthur E. Sutherland Jr. After clerkships in Washington, DC, and for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Merritt practiced in Boston for several years before he was appointed in 1974 to serve as the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s 16th Reporter of Decisions.

“During my 20 years in that position, I oversaw the publication of nearly 100 volumes of the Commonwealth’s official law reports for both the Supreme Judicial Court and the Appeals Court,” he explains.

In 1994, Merritt retired from the court reporter position, took the NH Bar exam, and started a practice first at his home (and farm) in Hollis, and eventually moved to Littleton.

He is not ready to completely retire as he enjoys maintaining a practice, and he continues to write as an author and reviser for Thomson Reuters on various legal treatises, including volumes for the Massachusetts and Maine Practice Series.

His advice for new lawyers: “Your word is inviolate. Never be known as attorney with respect to whom every understanding and every promise must be reduced to writing.”

John R. Monson


John Monson

Born and raised in Illinois, John Monson came to New Hampshire to practice law at the Nighswander law firm in the Lakes Region after four years practicing in Chicago. His legal career and public service have been marked by passionate advocacy for the nature and culture of New Hampshire.

Monson, 75, embraces the milestone of 50 years practicing law, saying: “It is a great profession – tough, but ultimately very rewarding.”

Among his accomplishments, he cites his pro bono work to preserve the Belknap Mill in Laconia and to compel government agencies to complete sewage systems to preserve the water quality of Lake Winnipesaukee. He also cites co-founding the Taxation Section of the NH Bar.

His community work has included serving as a NH Fish & Game Commission, director of the Land Conservation Investment Program (LCHIP), and as director of the NH Wildlife Heritage Foundation.

His advice to new lawyers is summed up in two quotes: President Calvin Coolidge: Work hard and long and press on as “persistence and determination alone are omnipotent,” and, New Hampshire’s own David Nixon: “Never, ever give up.”

Hon. James Muirhead


Hon. James Muirhead

As a Magistrate Judge in the US District Court in Concord for 15 years, James Muirhead developed a reputation as a strict taskmaster who also had a sense of humor. (He once answered an inmate petition that included the exhibit of a hard-boiled egg with a decision in Dr. Seuss-like verse).

Asking about reaching the 50-year milestone of becoming a lawyer, he quipped that he felt: “Terrific. A lot better than never reaching it.”

Muirhead today cites as one of his treasured accomplishments the “cleanup” of discovery abuses in the federal court process. Upon his retirement from the bench, he reflected in Bar News on his work to guard against abusive litigation tactics: “Judge [Paul} Barbadoro has said I was the right person to clean up our discovery practices, not just because I had been a litigator, but also because ‘the devil that did is the devil that knows.’”

Now retired, he enjoys time with his wife, Kathryn, and resorting to “tennis, bad golf, gentle hikes, enjoying family and friends.”

Muirhead joined the McLane law firm after graduating from Cornell Law School and practiced there for almost 30 years until his judicial appointment.

In the past, Muirhead served as president of NH Legal Assistance and worked with the late US Sen. Warren Rudman, and now-retired Judge Howard Dana of Maine, to fight efforts by President Ronald Reagan to cut legal assistance funding.

Muirhead’s advice for lawyers: “Be honest, keep your word, leave your fights in the courtroom and be friends with your professional foes.”

Spence W. Perry

Spence Perry was admitted to the NH Bar in 1966 after graduating from Duke University Law School. He immediately joined the US Navy where he served as a judge advocate general, including service in Vietnam.

After a short stint in private practice in Boston, Perry began working for the federal government, working in regulatory law and insurance positions, including service as general counsel to the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Among his accomplishments as a lawyer, Perry cites helping to draft the original charter for FEMA and the federal Disaster Act of 1988.

Although he has been retired for 20 years, Perry says the milestone is meaningful: “It is like coming to a point in the journey when you can pause and look around. It is a joyous moment.”

He has been active in the arts and charitable organizations, including serving as president of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, and Horizon Goodwill Industries in Hagerstown, Maryland.

He demurred when asked what advice he’d offer a new lawyer today: “I could not responsibly do it. The profession has so changed.”

Peter B. Rotch


Peter Rotch

Peter Rotch, now of counsel to the McLane Middleton law firm, where he practiced his entire career, says that when he began his studies at the University of Chicago Law School, he wasn’t sure he wanted to be a lawyer – he just thought it would be good training for any number of careers.

“I enjoyed my law school courses, but soon realized that without a definite goal, I would never survive the academic challenges of law school. Consequently, rather early in law school, I focused on becoming a practicing lawyer.”

After graduation, and a brief stint in the US Army Reserve, he joined the McLane firm, where he had clerked.

“The McLane firm was one of the few firms in those days that had lawyers whose practice was practically limited to certain areas of the law. However, the prevailing attitude was that to be a real lawyer, you had to be able to try a jury trial,” he said. As a result, he became involved in trials with the renowned Stanley Brown. “At times, the experience was intimidating, but in hindsight, I was privileged to be taught by such a brilliant lawyer.”

Mentoring and maintaining integrity are important hallmarks of practice for Rotch, and he cites Jack Middleton, president of the McLane firm, as an ever-present and outstanding influence.

Rotch’s advice to lawyers: Represent your clients with energy and skill. Never forget that the foundation of your profession, and the source of your effectiveness, is honesty and integrity.

Russell Shillaber


Russell Shillaber

Still practicing law in Rochester at the Wensley & Jones law firm, Russell Shillaber says retirement is on the horizon, but not quite yet. And even after he leaves practice, the tree farms he owns in Farmington and Strafford will keep him active for the rest of his life.

After growing up in Newburyport, Mass., served on a destroyer in the US Navy – an experience he says taught him more than he ever learned in a classroom. After graduating from UNH in 1953, he went to work for the IRS in collection matters, bringing him in contact with bankruptcy referees, the US Attorney and other attorneys who inspired and encouraged him to go to law school.

A classmate at Boston College Law School was the late Douglas Grey, who went on to be a superior court judge. “Our travel talk included Doug’s assertion he was going to be governor of New Hampshire one day, and appoint me as his Attorney General. We both missed that goal, but ended up with the most satisfying careers,” Shillaber said. After law school, Shillaber worked as an attorney at the IRS, then joined the law office of Richard F. Cooper, whom Shillaber described as “an imposing senior attorney who expected everyone to see and do things his way.” Nevertheless, he spent the next 32 years at that firm.

Shillaber has been actively involved in area affairs, including serving as Town Moderator for Strafford for 17 years. He serves on the board of the Rochester Fair and as president of the Rochester Cemetery Association.

Hon. David H. Souter


Hon. David H. Souter

A native of Concord, Justice David Souter attended Concord public schools, graduated from Harvard and was named a Rhodes Scholar, studying jurisprudence at Oxford University. He obtained an LLB degree from Harvard Law School and, upon admission to the NH Bar in 1966, joined the Orr and Reno law firm in Concord. Two years later, he joined the NH Attorney General’s Office, where he eventually was named Attorney General in 1976. In 1978, he was appointed to the NH Superior Court, and subsequently to the NH Supreme Court. In 1990, President George Bush appointed him to First Circuit Court of Appeals, where he served from May until October, when he was confirmed to the US Supreme Court. Souter stepped down in June 2009 and returned to New Hampshire. He remains on senior status as a judge, taking “a limited number of cases in the First Circuit [Court of Appeals] in the winter months.”

In his responses to Bar News, Souter acknowledges that it was “a quick 50 years” that led him to reach this professional milestone. Explaining why he became a lawyer, he wrote: “The practice of law struck me as dignified by its history and situated at a very nice interim spot between the academic and the practical. The same considerations later applied to the practice of judging.”

“I read philosophy as an undergraduate and found the subspecialties of moral, social and legal philosophy were the ones that interested me. And I can never discount the influence of reading Learned Hand’s then-recent lectures, ‘The Bill of Rights...’ The concluding sentences, in which Hand reflects on those who had taught the law to him, probably state the most fundamental moral and constitutional lesson that I have ever encountered. ‘From them I learned that it is as craftsmen that we get our satisfactions and our pay. In the universe of truth they lived by the sword; they asked no quarter absolutes and they gave none. Go ye and do likewise.’”

Souter also cited the following as significant career accomplishments: “As attorney general of New Hampshire, I had a part in the fight to keep casino gambling out of the state. On the Supreme Court of the United States, my opinion in Lee v. Weisman, 50 US 577 (1992) was the occasion to clarify my own thinking in rejecting the anti-preferentialist view of the Establishment Clause; the joint opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey 505 US 833 (1992), was an act of coming to grips with the institutional need for stare decisis in a subject of continuing controversy; my dissenting opinion in Bush v. Gore 531 US 98 (2000) still strikes me as a fair statement about what was, and what was not, at issue before the Court in that case.”

Souter also mentions that he has “no regrets” about the critical comments he expressed in an unpublished draft dissent in the first Citizens United campaign-spending decision. Souter said the document is “an open secret through no fault of mine and one that someday will be public.”

Asked to provide advice to new lawyers, Souter wrote, “Take to heart what my old boss, Dudley Orr, believed was the most important rule he had learned in life: give the other guy a hand.”

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