Cook On Concord: Practicing law through the lens of the ‘good old days’
A couple of young lawyers in my office asked me recently what had changed over the period of time that the “older lawyers” in the office had been in practice. I told them to ask the “older lawyers,” and they told me I did not understand the question. After getting over that shock, I thought about the question. After all, I reflected, I have been looking out of the windows of Manchester’s Hampshire Plaza for over a third of a century, so maybe I do qualify. Manchester and New Hampshire were very different in 1972, when I was a summer clerk here at one of New Hampshire’s “largest” law firms. This was the first modern glass and steel office building and there was great excitement as the firm moved into this structure, occupying three quarters of the 18th floor. Other lawyers thought the leaders of the firm were crazy to spend the amount rent cost, almost $10 per square-foot! When I came back the next year and passed the bar, I was the 15th or so lawyer in this “large firm” and was paid over $10,000! The office was open on Thursday nights, as was the custom in town, and we worked a half day on Saturdays. Lunch often was at the upstairs sandwich shop over Ferretti’s Market at the corner of Bridge and Elm streets, where the Bank of America (formerly Fleet, Shawmut, New Dartmouth, Dartmouth, Numerica Bank) building now stands, or on the second floor of the Carpenter Hotel. The class of 1973 took the number of members of the New Hampshire bar over the 900- and 1,000-member mark — and a few of the new attorneys were women.