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Bar News - August 16, 2017


Board Perspective: Get to Know NH Bar President Scott Harris

Scott Harris, a director and trial attorney at McLane Middleton in Manchester, officially became president of the New Hampshire Bar Association at the NHBA Annual Meeting in June. This month, he answered a few of our questions so that Bar members could get to know him a little better.

1. Where were you born and raised? What was it like?

I was born just outside New York City in northern New Jersey. Before I was 2, we moved to upstate New York outside of Syracuse. Upstate is filled with lakes, ponds and forests, making it a great place to be a kid. We moved back to Jersey when I was 12. Summers at the Jersey shore, Bruce Springsteen, bright lights, and the big city were all influences.

2. What drove your decision to become a lawyer? If you had not become a lawyer, what do you think you might have done instead?

I donít think you can pick up a paper most days without seeing the impact that law and lawyers have on the events around us. The law implicates science, math, economics, sociology, all manner of different academic disciplines. In short, the law seemed like a profession one could pursue for 50 years and never get bored. Had I not been a lawyer, Iím not sure where Iíd have ended up.

3. Why did you want to join the NH Bar Association Board of Governors?

Iíve been lucky in my professional life to work for and with really talented lawyers. That association with other professionals has enriched my work life. Of course, the profession doesnít tend to itself. It requires the volunteer efforts of a lot of people. One of the ways to help foster the profession that has treated me well was to join the Board of Governors.

4. What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the legal profession today? What is the greatest opportunity?

It may have been like this for those practicing in the 1980s, having started their careers in the 1960s, but it seems like the practice of law and lawyersí roles in society have changed at light speed in the last 10-15 years. Competition for clients is becoming national if not global, the work is omnipresent (pressing in via email, text and the Internet), and our connections to one another as a profession are less close. These are all challenges.

With changes in technology and all manner of other disruptive influences that are omnipresent, comes the opportunity for the profession to reinvent itself; to redefine what it means to deliver legal services in a way that adds value. Is it artificial intelligence that will allow us to deliver more accurate, less expensive advice to a greater number of people? Is it really necessary for all who deliver legal advice to spend three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars on their education?

5. Who has influenced you the most in the practice of law?

I have had the good fortune to work with very bright and capable lawyers both at the US Department of Justice and at McLane Middleton. At one time or another, virtually all of those colleagues have helped to shape me as a lawyer. Although it is difficult to single any one out from those talented ranks, there are two lawyers to whom I owe a lot: my boss at the US Department of Justice, D. Patrick Mullarkey, and my partner, Jack Middleton.

After almost two decades of schooling, I thought I knew how to write and think like a lawyer. It was plain within the first two days in Patrickís section that this was not the case. Patrickís review of my written work product often resulted in the red ink on the page exceeding the original text. I wish for every young lawyer to find someone like Patrick who can teach them the craft of practicing law.

And there is Jack Middleton. It is no exaggeration to say that half the Bar looks to Jack as the embodiment of what it means to be a professional. Jack is an excellent lawyer. More important, as a mentor Jack embodies the ideal that law is more than just a way to earn a living. Itís a profession that allows us to serve clients and participate in the leadership of our communities. I hope that every young lawyer can find someone like Jack to teach them what it means to make a meaningful contribution as a member of the profession.

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