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Bar News - August 17, 2016

Bar Communications Director to Step Down

Dan Wise

For the past 20 years, Dan Wise has documented the evolution of New Hampshire’s legal community as it has grown from a tight-knit group of lawyers to what is now more than 5,000 active NH Bar Association members.

Wise, 60, recently decided to wind down his career in communications to make way for a “twilight career” in health care, with the goal of becoming certified as an occupational therapist assistant.

A trained journalist and former editor of Bar News, Wise serves as communications director at the NHBA, a position he has enjoyed for nearly two decades and one that has brought him in contact with hundreds of New Hampshire lawyers. It was part of a long career in journalism and communications, which began as a decision made in high school that he never second-guessed until recently.

“I liked finding out about things and helping people tell their stories,” he said. “I didn’t ever think about a different career until a few years ago, when I was taking care of my parents.”

With the help of professional caregivers, Wise and his siblings cared for their parents at the end of their lives. Wise was struck by the specialized knowledge and compassion of the caregivers, and how helpful that was to his family. In addition, his daughter Danielle decided to pursue a career as a nurse, which also turned his attention toward the healthcare field.

“I love to collect information, so when she decided she wanted to be a nurse, I started gathering information about different jobs and different healthcare settings,” he said.

Wise says he looks forward to learning a new field and working collaboratively with patients in recovery. It will take him three years to finish his schooling. He plans to work full-time in the field for a few years before curtailing his schedule and winding down into retirement.

John Broderick Jr., former chief justice of the NH Supreme Court, has fond memories of working with Wise. “When I was on the Court, and particularly when I was chief, Dan was interested in what was happening within the system; he wasn’t just punching the clock, he was smart and well informed, and he was always pretty straight. He had no agenda that I could discern,” Broderick said. “Dan brought the Bar to a different level of visibility in the state… He made a great contribution to the profession of law, not just to the practice of law.”

Wise developed Bar News into the type of publication it is today – focused on association happenings, legal system news and human interest stories. “I was fortunate and supported in the beginning to take the Bar News and make it more of a newspaper that was covering the legal community, not just a vehicle for the association, and to publish court notices,” he said. “There had been a journalistic tradition to it, but we put more resources into it and members appreciated it, and it made the association stronger.”

Peter Hutchins, treasurer of the NHBA, worked closely with Wise when he was Bar president in the early 2000s on several reform and advocacy issues.

“It was great fun; he’s a whirlwind,” said Hutchins, who gave Wise the nickname “Flash,” because he was always photographing Bar events. “His depth of understanding of the issues was always amazing to me… I think he really enjoyed those years, too, because it was a heck of a lot more than being at the computer all day. We didn’t have all the technology quite yet, so it was more of a get-out-and-get-it-done type of thing.”

For much of his career at the Bar, Wise worked closely with Laura Kiernan, a journalist and former communications officer for the NH Judicial Branch. “What I always felt about Dan that remains most important to me was that he was an excellent journalist; he knew the rules, he knew the business and he could always be trusted,” said Kiernan. “I enjoyed working with Dan tremendously and I still do, and we became friends, too… I think it’s a big loss for the Bar, but I completely appreciate his desire to go off and do other things.”

Wise plans to remain on staff at the NH Bar Center at a reduced schedule at least through the end of 2016 to continue working on projects for the association and NH Bar Foundation. Jeannine McCoy, the association’s executive director, says many aspects of the organization have benefited from his work over the years.

“He really has a broad range of interests and he’s intellectually curious, and that has really been a gift in terms of his ability to come at things from different angles,” she said.

Bar News readers with stories about Wise or his writing are encouraged to send a note to Wise can be reached by email.

Dan Wise and John Broderick Jr. at a 2010 Bar meeting.
Wise and attorney Kevin Leach at Annual Meeting 2001.
Dan Wise and his wife, Lilian, and daughter, Danielle;
Wise prepares to put on some high heels in support of the DOVE Project and the Crisis Center of Central NH.

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