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Bar News - October 18, 2017


Court News: Rouvalis to Co-Chair Court’s Access to Justice Commission

Mark Rouvalis

The New Hampshire Judicial Branch today announced that Attorney Mark C. Rouvalis has been appointed the new co-chair of the state Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission (AJC). Rouvalis is a director in the litigation department at McLane Middleton and has been a member of the AJC since 2012. He joins fellow co-chair US District Court Chief Judge Joseph Laplante.

The AJC was established in 2007 and currently has 35 members. The commission’s goal is to expand and enhance access to justice in civil legal matters for New Hampshire residents. The commission develops and implements policy initiatives along with its partners in New Hampshire’s state and federal judiciary.

“I am honored to be appointed co-chair of the Access to Justice Commission with Chief Judge Laplante,” said Rouvalis. “I look forward to working with the Supreme Court and the other dedicated commission members to recommend and implement ways to improve access to justice for all. As lawyers, we know that providing justice is one of the fundamental tenets of a democratic society. Ancient Greeks recognized the connection between democracy and justice. Sophocles is said to have written, ‘If we are to keep our democracy, there shall be one commandment: Thou shall not ration justice.’

“The mission of AJC is, in effect, to work toward achieving Sophocles’ commandment of not rationing justice. I am pleased to undertake this new role, and to further the commission’s efforts to increase access to justice.”

Commenting on Rouvalis’s appointment, Judge Laplante said, “I could not be more pleased with the Court’s appointment of attorney Rouvalis to co-chair the Access to Justice Commission. He shares former co-chair Richard Uchida’s commitment to these important issues, and he has a demonstrated record of engagement and effectiveness in dealing with them.”

New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice Linda Stewart Dalianis added, “When the New Hampshire Supreme Court created AJC 10 years ago, it noted that the level of participation in the state’s bar association’s pro bono program was considerably higher than comparable programs in other states, but that it was still not enough to meet the need for civil legal services for New Hampshire’s low-income residents. We get closer to the goal of realizing equal justice for all in our state when talented attorneys like Mark volunteer their time and energy for such an important cause. I am delighted that he is our new co-chair, and, fully expect that, together with Judge Laplante, the commission will be even more driven to close the gap for those who need, and deserve, legal representation in civil cases but cannot afford it.”

Recent studies suggest that capacity within New Hampshire to assist low-income residents with legal problems can only meet about 6 percent of the need.

Under an agreement with the Court, the AJC does not look to the NH Legislature to appropriate funds for its activities and initiatives but instead can apply for grants and seek other sources of support. The commission last year developed a list of 24 priority projects aimed at closing the justice gap in New Hampshire. The projects ranged from courthouse legal clinics to simplifying court forms and enhanced information-sharing.

Rouvalis is a trial lawyer who handles primarily business and environmental litigation. He has served on numerous NH Bar Association committees and non-profit boards. He presently is a member of the NHBA’s Committee on Cooperation with the Courts, and formerly was a board member and board chair of New Hampshire Legal Assistance. Rouvalis also is a longtime pro bono volunteer through the NH Bar’s Pro Bono program.

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