Magazine identifies Laconia as great place for young lawyers to start a career

LACONIA — According to Tipping the Scales, an online magazine for lawyers, this city is the fifth best small city in America for young attorneys to find a job.

Tipping the Scales used four criteria in its evaluation of more than 500 U.S. towns and small cities: average lawyer salary, an housing affordability index or the percentage of income spent on homes, amenities like recreation, and arts and entertainment, and "employee attractiveness rank — or a combination of law job density, availability, and competition.

The article said information compiled by Good Call indicated that the average Laconia attorney earns $117,000 annually, spends 12.36 percent of his or her income on housing, that there are 9.39 amenities per 1,000 households and the employment attractiveness is 10.

Executive Director Karmen Gifford of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce said that she was initially glad the publication recognized the city but then started to give it some real thought.

In a telephone interview yesterday she named five young lawyers in the city who have come to the area to practice including Alison Ambrose of Wescott Law, Joseph Driscoll and Lissa Mascio who recently joined Martin, Lord and Osman and James Ball who joined Lawson, Persson and Weldon-Franke.

Gifford noted that Mascio was just named to one of the committees for the N.H. Bar Association.

She described them as all young and upcoming attorneys with bright futures in the area and a commitment to local causes.

For some established lawyers in the Laconia area — Laconia's population was listed as 30,000 so presumably it reflects the "greater Laconia area" — the article was a total surprise and for some it wasn't a surprise at all.

Matt Lahey is a life-long city resident and practicing attorney who said that "he doesn't see it". Lahey primarily practices criminal defense law, personal injury and workers compensation law where he said he hasn't seen any real increase in demand.

Lahey said he could easily understand why someone would want to live here and said the price of housing is lower here that in the capitol region and the southern part of the state, but wondered if the article was about people who practice elsewhere and live in the greater Laconia area.

Attorney Paul Fitzgerald, who was one of the first people to come across the article, said he agrees with Lahey regarding some fields of law, like criminal defense, but noted that with the local real estate market — especially some of the high-end developments around Lake Winnipesaukee — attorneys in those areas of practice would be seeking some young, talented attorneys.

"Almost any lawyer will tell you there is opportunity in the Lakes Region," he said. He also said there is a growing interest in branch location in the area, meaning established law firms that are not centered in the Lakes Region are looking for a presence here.

Fitzgerald also said that because New Hampshire is a good state for retirement for reasonably well-off people, estate, real estate, trust and elder law areas are in higher demand.

Edmund Boutin of Boutin Altieri PLLC of Meredith said to him Laconia and its environs is a unique place to practice law.

"I left Washington, D.C. to return here," he said. "It's a place for a decent work-life balance."

His practice concentrates on environmental insurance coverage disputes, legal ethics and professional liability defense, business and corporate law, utility law, and municipal and zoning law. Boutin Altieri has three other offices in Londonderry, Fairfield, Conn. and Carmel, NY.

He said his firm practices in specialty legal areas but always tries to hire locally for each of its offices.

"Historically, Laconia and has some very decent law firms and courts," Boutin said, noting younger attorneys are looking for pleasant working relationships with good, reputable lawyers and firms, as well as a good income.

"If you want to practice quality law with quality attorneys and firms, then come to Laconia," Boutin said.

Daycare & pre-school center opening in Gilford

GILFORD — A 19-year veteran kindergarten and pre-school teacher will be opening a daycare and pre-school center for 3- to 5-year olds here. Becky Mogee of New Hampton expects her center will be open in October.

"Miss Becky," as she prefers to be called, said her program will be a balanced structure of age-appropriate academics in the morning with structured play time in the afternoon that will incorporate arts, music and science.

"We use a hands-on approach and really believe in getting children ready for kindergarten," she said.

Mogee said they are also offering a class in parenting so individual parents can learn about the things their children are doing. "We want to partner with parents," she said. "We are not there to take over their role but to lend a hand.

She said the parents she has worked with in the past have said that she makes learning fun for their children. "We have music and dance. We let them use their whole body," she said.

Mogee also said that she wants to give the parents and the little ones a sense of community as well.

"Even though they're little, they can still give," she said, adding she just spent two weeks in Rwanda and noted that a single box of crayons are like a pot of gold in parts of Africa. "Little ones can learn that even giving a box of crayons can be a huge gift."

Now that the Gilford Planning Board has given her and her husband site plan approval for an on-site outdoor playground, she is working to get the middle office at 401 Gilford Avenue (Rte. 11-A) ready.

Mogee said one of the reasons she picked Gilford was because she learned there is no full-day daycare. She said she had staggered programs for those who still only want a half-day of pre-school and daycare.

She is allowed a maximum of 25 children in her program with a minimum of three teachers. She said her two assistants are also pre-k teachers.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday is one half-day program, while on Tuesdays and Thursdays there is another. In addition, there are full-day and half-day programs Monday through Friday.

Mogee said the town of Gilford has been wonderful to her. She said one of the librarians asked her to participate by reading to children during stay-time at the beach.

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Meredith Selectboard says yes to Japanese cherry tree in Hesky Park but no to significant memorial

MEREDITH — The Board of Selectmen this week approved the planting of a Japanese cherry tree in Hesky Park to mark the 110th anniversary of the Treaty of Portsmouth of 1905, ending the Russo-Japaese War, but significantly shrank the scale of the memorial.

Earlier this month Miller Lovett, a member of the design committee of the Greater Meredith Program. presented a sketch indicating that the tree would be planted along a path just north of where the spillway from Mill Falls empties into the lake. The tree, projected to reach a height of 30 feet with a canopy 30 feet around, would be the centerpiece of a flagstone patio with two rocks, one either side of the tree serving as resting places. An inscribed granite marker explaining the purpose of the memorial would be embedded in the patio.

Without taking a formal vote, the board expressed its unanimous approval of the project, but specified that a final plan, specifying the measurements of the patio and the two stones, be presented to the next meeting of the board this week. The tree is scheduled to be planted and the memorial dedicated at a ceremony on September 5, which will feature the ringing of church bells marking the day and hour the treaty was signed.

The drawing, prepared by Christopher P. Williams, Architects, showed a triangular stone patio 24 feet across at its base along the pathway and nine-and-a-half feet to its peak where the tree would be planted. The Selectmen Boar of Selectmen balked at the size of the memorial and approved only the planting of the tree and placement of a plaque explaining its significance.

The Japanese-American Society of New Hampshire has chosen Meredith among other towns to receive a Japanese cherry tree to commemorate the occasion.The tree will be a descendant of those in Washington, which the Japanese government gave to the United States in 1912 in appreciation of its role in hosting the peace conference and assisting the treaty negotiations.

Komura Jutaro, the Japanese foreign minister who led his country's delegation in the treaty negotiations, worked on a farm in Meredith while studying law at Harvard.,The son of a samurai family, Komura mastered English as a schoolboy and was the most gifted student of his time at the forerunner of Tokyo University. As a student he persuaded the government to establish a scholarship program to enable students to study abroad and in 1875 was among the first group of 10 to come to America, where he enrolled at Harvard Law School.

During his three years of law school, Komura, who had always tended his uncle's farm during the growing season, did the same in Meredith, working on a farm that Lovett said has yet to be identified. Returning to Japan, Komura joined the foreign service, serving in China and Korea before being named ambassador to the United States in 1898 and foreign minister in 1901.
After the Treaty of Portsmouth was concluded, Komura bequeathed $10,000 to the state of New Hampshire to be put to charitable purposes. The Japanese Charitable Fund remains an active charity to this day.