LEGAL Q&A: Legal Services Department: 2023 Year-in-Review

Stephen C. Buckley, Legal Services Counsel, and Jonathan Cowal, Municipal Services Counsel

NHMA staff includes two attorneys who are available to answer legal inquiries and provide general legal assistance by email and telephone to elected and appointed officials from member municipalities. Although these attorneys prepare articles, handbooks, seminars, and other educational programs and publications, they spend a lot of time answering your specific legal inquires, either by phone or by email.  NHMA strives to have a lawyer on telephone duty at 1-603-224-7447 each business day between 8:30 and 4:30.

As seen in the chart below, NHMA’s Legal Services Department saw a slight decline in legal inquiry call volume in 2023 over 2022 call volumes. This averages out to twelve legal inquires a day in 2023.

Legal Inquiry Call/Email Statistics - 2023

With A Comparison of Inquiries by Month - 2020-2023


 top 10

On Demand Presentations:  Legal Services and Government Affairs staff presented 26 On-Demand programs to member municipalities during 2023 that were attended by 339 local officials.  21 of these were paid programs, and 5 were programs provided without charge to those municipalities with dues greater than $15,000.

New and/or Updated Publications:  Legal Services staff developed two new publications and updated another six publications.

  • Volunteer Manual (New)
  • Charter Government Handbook (Updated)
  • Art of Welfare (Updated)
  • Court Update (New, Annual)
  • Knowing the Territory (Updated)
  • Basic Law of Budgeting (Updated)
  • New Hampshire’s Right-to-Law Law (Updated)
  • Town Meeting School Meeting Handbook (Updated)

Workshops:  Legal Services presented 16 workshops to member municipalities during 2023 that were attended by over 1,084 members.  Here’s a breakdown of 2023 workshops:

            Moderators:                             115 attendees, 2 dates

            Local Officials:                        202 attendees, 2 dates

            Welfare:                                   55 attendees

            Budget & Finance:                   153 attendees, 2 dates

            Hard Road to Travel:               158 attendees, 2 dates

            Code Enforcement:                 87 attendees

            Right-to-Know Law:                100 attendees, 3 dates

            Trustees Training:                    103 attendees

            Land Use Law Conf.:               111 attendees, 2 dates

                    TOTAL ATTENDEES        1,026 attendees

Webinars:  Legal Services attorneys presented 4 webinar programs during 2023.

UNH T2 :  Seven workshops presented with UNH T2 on Hot Topics in Highway Regulation and other topics

Other Presentations:  NHMA Legal Services attorneys made presentations to the following: 

  •  Right-to-Know Law Overview - NH Tax Collectors Association/NH Department of Revenue Administration
  • Zoning Board/Planning Board Basics - NH Office of Planning & Development
  • Local Officials Overview – NH Government Finance Officers Association
  • Right-to-Know Law Overview – NH Building Officials Support Staff
  • Right-to-Know Law Overview – NH Law Enforces Administrative Professionals

Amicus Briefs Filed in 2023:

  • New London Hospital Association, Inc. v Town of Newport, filed June 20, 2023
  • Mary Hebbard v. City of Dover, filed August 22, 2023

For more information about our legal advisory services, NHMA staff can be reached at 603-224-7447 or by email at

 scb    Stephen C. Buckley                              jc       Jonathan Cowal

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