Bar News - June 15, 2016
President’s Perspective: A Message of Thanks from Your President
By: Mary E. Tenn
Daniel Webster, one of the early members of the New Hampshire Bar, is credited with saying: “Man is a special being, and if left to himself, in an isolated condition, would be one of the weakest creatures; but associated with his kind, he works wonders.”
I feel much the same about lawyers in our Bar Association.
When this Bar year began, I shared with you my hope that we would have the active participation of lawyers and judges. Your participation matters. It is what ensures the efficacy and vitality of our unified Bar. Of that, I am certain. I asked for your participation, and so many of you answered by giving your time and talents. For that, I am most grateful.
This year, our Bar Association tackled some big topics and tasks. Legal scholars write that the profession is in a tumultuous period of reinvention. They opine that the profession of law is experiencing fundamental and forever change. Some change is welcome, some uncomfortable, and some thrust upon us. We endeavored to address these matters with effort and excellence.
As we consider the new demands and opportunities for lawyers in the 21st century, we started a statewide conversation this year about the future of the legal profession and how lawyers can best “anticipate the play.” In March, we held a day-long symposium, attended by more than 600 New Hampshire lawyers and judges, to engage with national thought-leaders, legal technology companies and disruptive innovators in the legal marketplace.
We know that the experience for lawyers, clients and the courts is changing at an increasingly rapid pace. We delved into these subjects together at our largest-ever membership meeting. Although there are no easy answers, we move forward now with a shared understanding of the changing national landscape; and, hopefully, the ability to harness change to the advantage of the profession and our clients. In the year ahead, you can expect this conversation to continue.
Against this backdrop, we also confronted the ever-increasing need for civil legal services for the poor and the call to ensure equal access to justice. During this past year, our Bar Association and the NH Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of our Association, continued to support critically important initiatives to expand access to justice. Our Bar Association’s Pro Bono Referral Program remains an essential service for low-income individuals who often are in desperate need of a lawyer’s help. Volunteer lawyers donate thousands of hours of free legal service, valued at nearly $2 million annually, representing people for whom a lawyer’s services would otherwise be out of reach. The NH Bar Association continues to work in partnership with the network of civil legal service providers, the Campaign for Legal Services, the Access to Justice Commission and the Court to help solve the growing justice gap.
As another example, the Bar Association Board of Governors authorized, crafted and launched a comprehensive member survey. As the Association charts a course for the future, the intent was to solicit member input to assist our Association in making informed strategic decisions. Work is well underway. The Association’s Board of Governors, committees, sections and senior staff are in the process of reviewing the survey responses to determine how the Association can best serve members in this dynamic legal environment. We are assessing new services and those needing enhancement, as well as those that can be curtailed.
The Bar staff has been actively involved in the survey project, in addition to all of the other work they do to keep the Bar Association running smoothly. With member service at the forefront, our Bar staff also undertook a major initiative to develop a “member dashboard” and create a new streamlined online system to assist members with annual license renewal requirements.
In all of our endeavors this past year, the most meaningful has been the opportunity to work side-by-side with lawyers and judges who care deeply about our Bar Association, our profession and the clients we serve. Professionalism, civility and camaraderie have become hallmarks of the New Hampshire Bar Association. This is not an accident; but, the result of your commitment to be the keepers of these fine traditions in the memory those able lawyers, like Webster, who have gone before us.
As Bar President, I have had the privilege to represent New Hampshire lawyers and to serve our profession. There has been tremendous energy, effort and engagement in the work of our Association, as big events and much behind-the-scenes work have been accomplished this past year. While more remains to be done, I am confident that the Association is in excellent stead with the incoming volunteer leadership team, an engaged and talented Board of Governors, and an experienced Bar staff.
Working together in our unified Bar Association, we surely will meet the challenges of 21st century practice and advance an enduring legal profession. I very much look forward to your future participation. It is our Association, and it will continue to be what we make of it. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your Bar President.