The New Hampshire Women’s Bar Association (NHWBA), New Hampshire’s first statewide women’s bar association, was incorporated in May 1998 by Maureen Raiche Manning, Jennifer L. Parent, Joy V. Riddell, Claudia C. Damon, and Julie Introcaso. Incorporation followed closely on the heels of the Hillsborough County Women’s Bar Association program entitled “Why Have a Statewide Women’s Bar Association in New Hampshire?,” which was presented by Ellen Kearns of the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts in February 1998. Women attorneys throughout New Hampshire were invited to voice their opinions on whether the women county bar groups should join to establish a statewide women’s bar association. The consensus was overwhelming and piloted what is now the NHWBA.
On October 1, 1998, the NHWBA held its inaugural Fall Reception in Concord, New Hampshire, inviting attorneys throughout the state to an open house. An Annual Fall Reception has been held in Concord every October thereafter. During its first year, the NHWBA signed over 200 members.
In Spring 2008, we celebrated our 10th anniversary with a gala dinner celebrating women trailblazers in the law. Our five trailblazer award recipients were: Maureen Raiche Manning, the first president of the NHWBA and a leader on the issues of gender equality in the legal profession; Judge Jean K. Burling, the first female judge in New Hampshire; Justice Linda S. Dalianis, the first female justice to sit on the New Hampshire Supreme Court; Kelly A. Ayotte, the first female Attorney General; and Jennifer L. Parent, the second president of the NHWBA, a highly visible member of the state bar and a mentor to many young attorneys in this state.
In May, 2013, we held our 15th Anniversary Celebration at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH. Pamela E. Berman, President of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations and Jennifer L. Parent, the second president of the NHWBA, were our featured guests and speakers.
Recognition of Women Leaders
In 2000, the NHWBA created the Marilla M. Ricker Achievement Award. The Award is presented at the Annual Fall Reception to female lawyers who have achieved professional excellence and paved the way to success for other female lawyers, and/or advanced opportunities for women in the legal profession, and/or performed exemplary public service on behalf of women.
The NHWBA holds an annual Developments in Family Law CLE as well as educational seminars on a number of relevant topics, including trial skills, mediation and electronic discovery. In November 2009, we partnered with the American Bar Association’s Health Law Section to hold a breast cancer legal advocacy CLE, which was the first time that this national program was offered in northern New England. Some of our recent CLEs include Demystifying the Path to the Bench, Effectively Working with Paralegals, and The Art of Taking Depositions.
The NHWBA routinely holds informal networking events around the state. Members gather for breakfast, lunch or after work hours to share each other’s company and discuss concerns, problems, and business opportunities. Those interested should contact their county representatives. We also host a golf clinic for beginning golfers each spring and hold a Work Stress Relief Clinic each March.
Our members volunteer in various public service initiatives. Our Women to Women Project unites New Hampshire licensed attorneys with sentenced female inmates of the New Hampshire State Prison for Women. The purpose of the Project is to provide legal information on various topics of interest to the female inmates. The Project provides an opportunity for licensed practitioners to offer limited legal advice and information to an underserved population on a varied spectrum of legal issues. We also hold a professional clothing drive each year to benefit Dress for Success or other local charities. We participate in pro bono marathons, calling attorneys throughout the state to assist with the backlog of cases. The organization has also sponsored a golf tournament to raise money for the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Pro Bono Program. We have supported the annual silent auction in connection with the University of New Hampshire School of Law to provide funds for law students to work at public interest law jobs during the summer. We have also raised money and collected supplies for local organizations, such as the New Hampshire Food Bank and the YWCA. In 2008, we made a donation to the New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Women to aid in the publishing of the latest edition of its legal handbook for women, one of the most comprehensive guides on the New Hampshire laws that most affect women. In 2014, the NHWBA received the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations’ (“NCWBA”) 2014 Public Service Award for its “Overcoming Cancer’s Legal Challenges” program. This program was a collaboration of the NHWBA and the Elliot Regional Cancer Center to provide patients and survivors of breast cancer, who attend a support group at the Cancer Center called “Living Beyond Breast Cancer”, with information about their legal rights and to answer questions pertaining to employment issues, insurance and financial issues, and family law issues. In addition to providing legal guidance, the NHWBA also sought to provide emotional support for the cancer patients and survivors and their families.
Public Policy Statements
The NHWBA monitors national, state and local legislation; case law; administrative and constitutional developments; and the press and broadcast media as they affect the legal profession and the judiciary and the interests of women and families. When appropriate, and in accordance with NHWBA policies, our Board of Directors may adopt a public position statement in support of or opposing an issue of importance to our organization. The NHWBA does not endorse individual candidates running for public office.