DATE; May 24, 2007                                                     CONTACT: Laura Kiernan
                                                                                                            Judicial Branch
                                                                                                            Communications Director
                                                                                                            603-271-2646 ext 2359



Broderick Awarded Honorary Degree by Vermont Law School

Effort to improve access to affordable legal services cited


    CONCORD—Chief Justice John T. Broderick Jr. of the New Hampshire Supreme Court has received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Vermont Law School for his effort to focus attention and action on providing more volunteer and low cost legal services for the poor and for the growing number of consumers who come to court without lawyers. The honorary degree was conferred during commencement ceremonies May 19th in South Royalton, Vermont.

    In a citation read at the ceremony by the law school’s President and Dean, Geoffrey B. Shields, the board of trustees noted that Broderick "recognized the obligation of every lawyer to serve those in need through pro bono work." Through his role as Chief Justice, and during 10 years as a member of the board of the Legal Services Corporation, Broderick "has tirelessly campaigned to eliminate the ‘justice gap’ between the rich and poor…" the citation said.

    The Chief Justice this past year has focused on raising awareness in the New Hampshire legal community about both the need for accessible and affordable legal services and the professional responsibility lawyers have to help meet that need. Broderick visited 17 major law firms around the state, urging practitioners to contribute more time to pro bono work. He also met at the Supreme Court with managing partners of the state’s leading law firms, leaders of trial lawyer organizations, former bar presidents and retired lawyers in an effort to find innovative ways to provide low cost and volunteer legal assistance.

    In July 2006, as part of an effort by the Supreme Court to accelerate availability of low cost legal services, New Hampshire changed its court rules to allow consumers to hire a lawyer on a limited basis to help them in a civil case. The court also appointed a statewide coordinator to oversee alternative dispute resolution services available through the court system, such as mediation.  In addition, the court established a permanent Access to Justice Commission to find innovative and more systemic solutions to the rising number of pro se litigants. The commission is chaired by Associate Justice James E. Duggan of the New Hampshire Supreme Court and Chief Judge Steven J. McAuliffe of the U.S. District Court in Concord, N.H.

    This year, the New Hampshire bar association’s Pro Bono Referral Program selected Broderick to receive its annual pro bono award in recognition of his efforts to encourage lawyers in private practice to offer their services without charge, or at low cost, to help meet the legal needs of the poor. Broderick, a veteran trial lawyer who served a term as president of the state bar before he became a judge, is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and has advocated for business ethics during a course he teaches annually at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

    A private, independent institution, Vermont Law School is the state’s only law school and its law degree program emphasizes the role of lawyers in serving the public. The school also houses the South Royalton Legal Clinic and an Environmental Law Center.

    Also receiving an honorary degrees Saturday at the school were Kathleen Sullivan, former dean of Stanford Law School and a nationally known constitutional law scholar, and Roger G. Kennedy of the Center for the Environment at Harvard University. Kennedy is also a former director of the National Park Service and director emeritus of the National Museum of American History