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The NHWBA recently had the opportunity to speak with the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s newest member, Justice Melissa Countway, about her path to the bench. Justice Countway began her tenure with the New Hampshire Supreme Court on January 2, 2024. Justice Countway is the fourth woman to serve on the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

Before attending law school at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Justice Countway taught middle school math and science. She enjoyed teaching but had always hoped to go to law school. When she began law school, her son was only eight months old. To manage law school with an infant, Justice Countway kept a strict schedule of attending classes, spending time with her family, and then completing law school homework after her son was asleep. Justice Countway’s hometown is Alton, New Hampshire. During law school, knowing she wanted to return to New Hampshire, she completed summer internships in New Hampshire and Boston, and her first job out of law school was as a law clerk at the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

After her clerkship, Justice Countway began her career at Orr & Reno. Although Justice Countway enjoyed her experience at Orr & Reno, about two years later, she accepted an offer to work in her hometown of Alton, New Hampshire joining a solo practitioner and later forming her own firm:  Alton Law Offices, PLLC. At Alton Law Offices, Justice Countway practiced many different areas of law and appeared in court frequently. She also worked as a police prosecutor for the Alton Police Department. 

In 2011, Justice Countway was selected to complete a term as Belknap County Attorney, she then successfully ran for re-election three times. She served as Belknap County Attorney until 2017 when she was nominated to be a New Hampshire Circuit Court judge. Justice Countway was the first judge nominated by Governor Chris Sununu.

In the Fall of 2023, Justice Countway applied to be New Hampshire’s next Supreme Court Justice. After several months of waiting and hoping, she was selected. Governor Sununu nominated her, and on December 20, 2023, she was confirmed by the governor’s Executive Council. Justice Countway is the first Circuit Court judge to become a New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice.

Since being appointed to the N.H. Supreme Court, Justice Countway has really enjoyed working with her new colleagues and being able to immerse herself into the appellate cases before her.

Justice Countway wants to encourage other women lawyers to apply to be judges in New Hampshire. She highly recommends appearing in court as much as possible and having a broad exposure to a variety of legal fields. She believes that women lawyers should support each other and help each other accomplish success, both personally and professionally.

Justice Countway wants all lawyers to know that you can be successful and be committed to your family. Justice Countway prides herself on always being home to have dinner with her children and doing her best not to get caught up in the “rat race.”

She wants all lawyers to know that you can be successful in your career, and even become a judge, while balancing your family commitments. She encourages attorneys to be their own best advocate for balancing work and family. Justice Countway recommends giving yourself permission to be successful in both aspects of life. Thank you to Justice Countway for speaking with us and leading by example. We can’t wait to follow your accomplishments on the New Hampshire.


This web site is for informational purposes only. No information submitted to this site will be deemed to be, or kept, confidential. The NHWBA is a voluntary professional organization. It is not affiliated with the New Hampshire Bar Association.

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New Hampshire Women's Bar Association

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Box 179

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