DATE: May 12, 2005                                                  CONTACT: Laura Kiernan
                                                                                                         Judicial Branch
                                                                                                         Communications Director
                                                                                                         603-271-2646 ext 359





 Rigorous testing of practical skills and legal knowledge to decide Bar Admission

     CONCORD--John Burwell Garvey, a member of the Concord law firm of Sulloway & Hollis for more than 23 years and the current chairman of the firm’s trial department, has been named the first director of the Daniel Webster Scholar Program at Franklin Pierce Law Center.  The honors program, which will be open to 25 Pierce Law students in January 2006, will prepare law school graduates for admission to the bar based upon rigorous evaluation of their practical legal skills as well as substantive knowledge of the law.

            “The opportunity for me to direct the Webster Scholar Program, and work with law students, is a dream job,” said Garvey, 52, who in addition to his legal practice has served on numerous  committees of the New Hampshire Bar Association and has been active in community organizations. “I believe we will develop thoughtful, capable new lawyers who are better prepared to serve their clients,” Garvey said. Students who successfully complete the two and one half year program will be admitted to practice law in New Hampshire without having to take the traditional bar examination.

            Associate Supreme Court Justice Linda S. Dalianis, the chair of the Webster Scholar Committee, said that Garvey, an accomplished trial lawyer who also has been an adjunct professor at Pierce Law for many years, has the depth of experience needed to lead a program that is grounded in substantive legal training and practical skill.

             “New lawyers need to have more than academic knowledge if they are going to be competent lawyers from the start and they need to be able to do more than simply pass the traditional bar exam,” Dalianis said. She has pointed to estimates that approximately half of new admittees to the NH Bar go off into the “sink-or-swim” atmosphere of private practice, often as sole practitioners with no one to mentor them.

        “Students in the Webster Scholar Program will not only have to prove they have learned substantive law, they will also have to demonstrate repeatedly to a panel of evaluators that they have acquired the necessary practical skills and learned the fundamental values essential to good lawyering,” Dalianis said. “When the Webster Scholars graduate, they will be ready to practice law,” she added. A trial court judge for more than 20 years before her appointment to the Supreme Court, Dalianis has long advocated changes in the criteria for licensing law school graduates to practice as attorneys.

            The Webster Scholar Program was initiated by the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which oversees admissions to the NH Bar, in collaboration with Pierce Law.  The court and law school worked in cooperation with the Board of Bar Examiners, which administers and grades the bar examination, and the New Hampshire Bar Association, the statewide organization of attorneys.

            Garvey is a resident of  New London, where he lives with his wife, Cotton Cleveland and their children. He will begin work at Pierce Law in July as a Professor of Law and Director of the Webster Scholar Program. In a message earlier this week to his law partners at the Sulloway firm, Garvey said his decision brought with it the “joy and sadness” that comes with the excitement of a new professional challenge while leaving the firm where he has spent most of his legal career. He said the Webster Scholar Program will draw on the experience and training of practicing lawyers, including those at Sulloway, as part of its curriculum. “This will be a collaborative effort, and I hope I can look to you for continued support and guidance in the years to come,” Garvey said.

            Pierce Law Center Dean John D. Hutson, who has known Garvey since both men were lieutenants in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps in the late 1970s, said the program was “fortunate to have a lawyer of John Garvey’s caliber, integrity and reputation to take the Webster Scholar Program from the drawing board to reality.”

            Hutson said the program is unique in the country and will be a model for licensing lawyers in the years to come. “Other states and law schools will come to realize this is simply a better way to do it,” Hutson said. “The Webster Scholar program will be better able to evaluate all the attributes young lawyers need to have,” Hutson said.

            The curriculum for the program will include specially designed "practice courses" and evaluations in addition to traditional law school classes in legal principles, reasoning and case law. The  "practice courses" are designed to develop and test fundamental skills of legal practice, including communication, negotiation, organization, work management and legal ethics. In addition to being required to maintain a high grade point average, students will be evaluated three times during the program. Graduating students will undergo a final two-day assessment process that will require them to demonstrate, through interviews, testing and simulations, their understanding of legal concepts and how to resolve legal problems for clients. Throughout the program, students will develop a portfolio of work which will be evaluated by law school personnel, practicing attorneys and judges.

Standards for evaluating students in the Webster Scholar Program were developed based upon a 1992 report by a task force of the American Bar Association which examined what law schools teach and what law firms expect new lawyers to be able to accomplish. The report, known as the “McCrate Report” and entitled “Narrowing the Gap,” set out  fundamental lawyering skills and values essential for new lawyers, including skills in legal research, problem-solving, counseling, negotiation, and recognition of ethical dilemmas in legal practice. More information about this report is available at

            In addition to Justice Dalianis and Dean Hutson,  the members of the Webster Scholars Committee are: Associate Supreme Court Justice James E. Duggan; Frederick J. Coolbroth, Chair of the Board of Bar Examiners; Sophie Sparrow, Professor of Law and Director of Legal Skills at Pierce Law; former NH Bar Presidents Bruce W. Felmly and Martha Van Oot; and Attorney Lawrence Vogelman of Manchester.