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Bar News - May 18, 2016

Bar Governance: Board Discusses Member Service and Behavioral Health Surveys


The findings of two surveys in which NH Bar Association members participated were discussed at the NHBA Board of Governors meeting April 21.

Cecie Hartigan, executive director of the NH Lawyers Assistance Program, discussed findings of a national study of substance abuse problems in the legal profession. About 370 New Hampshire attorneys participated in the survey. Hartigan said the state results mirrored national findings with regard to heavy drinking and high rates of stress and depression among attorneys.

One of the more distressing findings of the survey, Hartigan said, is that substance abuse in the profession is higher for younger lawyers, a reversal from earlier studies that showed that problematic use increased with age. She said many attorneys do not perceive that their heavy alcohol use is affecting their lives or job performance. The study’s findings were detailed in the February issue of Bar News.

The board meeting also included a briefing on the results of the recent survey of members’ views of the Bar Association’s purpose and services, and challenges members see for the profession in the years ahead. (Results of the survey were reported in the April issue of Bar News.) A subcommittee of the board was set to meet earlier this month to begin work on responses to the survey, particularly in relation to the strategic goals of the association.

On the action agenda, the Board approved:

  • A minor change to the Lawyer Referral Service’s percentage fee policy, removing the minimum limit of $250 from the referral fee paid to LRS, of 10 percent of total net collected fees. The change was advocated to avoid continuing confusion over when the fee needs to be paid.
  • The NHBA Gender Equality Committee’s program this fall at UNH Law offering practical tips for attorneys, particularly female attorneys, on negotiating employment terms with employers. The program is a repetition of a program offered in October 2015 and will be available for all bar members and law students, and includes role-playing scenarios. The committee sought funding for refreshments and the assistance of the communications department to provide marketing help.
  • A name change for the NHBA Elder Law, Estate Planning and Probate Section. The section, one of the Association’s largest, with 445 members, will now be known as the Trust & Estate Section.

The board also received a report on the status of legislation on which the bar association lobbied or provided information. (Visit Legislation Watch to find out more about the bar’s positions).

Supreme Court Rule 42(9) requires all NH admitted attorneys to notify the Bar Association of any address change, home or office.

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