New Hampshire Supreme Court Order Aims at Addressing Attorney Shortage for Low-Income and Eligible Clients
CONCORD, NH—The New Hampshire Supreme Court has issued an order to help address the shortage of attorneys available for people who cannot afford to pay for representation. The new order follows the NH Bar Association’s creation of the limited active status classification for attorneys, which allows qualified attorneys membership to the Bar Association with a reduced annual fee. Under the order, attorneys with a limited active status classification may now be appointed as counsel for defendants who cannot afford an attorney to represent them in their criminal cases. The order waives mandatory continuing legal education requirements in any year in which these attorneys accept at least three eligible cases.
“The lack of attorneys for low-income people, including defendants in criminal cases, is an issue in New Hampshire,” said Supreme Court Associate Justice Patrick E. Donovan, chair of the Criminal Defense Task Force. “When we were reviewing court rules, it made sense to see how we could address this problem. The Court hopes this order will encourage limited active status attorneys to take on these cases and provide a much-needed service to New Hampshire’s most vulnerable populations.”
“There is a critical need for defense attorneys,” said Sarah Blodgett, Executive Director of the NH Judicial Council. “We have hundreds of people who are entitled to court-appointed counsel but are waiting for an attorney to take their case. Both the Judicial Branch and the State have taken several steps to address this issue, and this order will make a real difference to many New Hampshire residents.”
The new order also waives mandatory continuing legal education requirements for limited active status attorneys who volunteer to provide pro bono representation through 603 Legal Aid, NH Legal Assistance, and the Disability Rights Center.
- To read the order, go to: https://www.courts.nh.gov/sites/g/files/ehbemt471/files/documents/2022-08/8-10-22-order-re-limited-active-status.pdf.
- More information about available legal assistance services in New Hampshire can be found at: https://www.courts.nh.gov/self-help/getting-started/legal-assistance