I was born in Chicago, but moved to Omaha, Nebraska when I was 7 years old. After graduating from Central High School in 1980, I attended Creighton University and graduated with my bachelor’s degree in 1984. After being accepted to the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School, I moved there and graduated with my law degree in 1988. My first contact with the State of New Hampshire was when I applied and was hired for a summer internship in 1987, at the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. Little did I know that I would fall in love with NH that summer and realize this was where I wanted to live and practice law. The only bar admission I ever sought was here in New Hampshire. Immediately after graduating from law school, I began working for the New Hampshire Public Defender Program, where I practiced from 1988 to 1994. After six years with the Public Defender Program, I entered private practice and have been here ever since, focusing on criminal and civil litigation. My wife, Deanna Baker, is also a NH attorney, and it is fair to say we have lively debates at home.
I chose to practice law as a career for a number of reasons. One of the larger influences on that choice was an experience I endured when I was only 20 years old, and a senior in college. It was May of 1984, during a time called “dead week” when there were no scheduled classes. This was to provide us with a full week to study on our own before final exam week. What a perfect time to go see The Who during their first “Final World Tour” in St. Louis, MO!
My best friend and I made the 7 hour drive to St. Louis with no issues. What a show! The drive back was even more eventful than the concert. I was driving my friend’s truck, and we were pulled over by a local Missouri police car on Interstate 70, outside of Fulton, MO. The reason I was stopped was speeding; I had been travelling 15 MPH above the posted 55 MPH Speed Limit. After checking my license and registration, the police officer demanded “payment of the fine” right there, in the breakdown lane of the Interstate. The amount he demanded exceeded what we had when we started our journey, let alone what was left for the trip home. He pressed me hard, and when I explained for the umpteenth time that I DID NOT HAVE THAT MUCH CASH, he told me that I had to follow him back to Fulton. I did as I was instructed, and 45 minutes later (in the opposite direction) we arrived in Fulton. I was brought into the local police station where a group of officers explained that I would not be leaving until the “fine” had been paid. When I explained that I did not have the money, I was told that I would have to contact someone and have the money wired to the police station by Western Union. I had never done this before, but I felt that I had no choice but to try. I called my friend’s mother and explained the situation to her. She told me she would immediately go and wire the demanded sum.
After I hung up the phone, I explained to the officers that their cash was on its way. Then they opened the door to the lone jail cell and told me to get in. I explained that the money was truly on its way and that I could just sit at one of the empty desks and study. (Yes, I am a nerd. I brought my textbooks to the Who concert). They told me that I had to wait in the locked cell. I responded by telling them that I had never been incarcerated before and that I was feeling very uncomfortable. I implored them to just let me study. That’s when they smiled and told me to get in or they would charge me with Resisting Arrest.
Though it was mid-morning when I made the call to have the money wired, they did not release me until almost 6 PM that evening. I later learned that, as promised, the money had been wired almost immediately and they had it before noon. I think I was their sport for a slow day.
I can’t express how angry and victimized I felt. Such complete powerlessness, in the face of what was obviously an illegal exercise of authority. I hated the feeling of “there is nothing I can do.” But I also vowed to never let my rights and dignity be run over like that again. If only I knew “the rules,” I could speak up for myself. Going to law school was a logical extension of this desire. Now I speak up for others, and it is deeply ingrained in my nature.
My primary focus is criminal defense. I have been defending people accused of crimes in New Hampshire since 1988. Closely related to this, I have been representing people on all types of motor vehicle matters since that time as well. This includes the administrative hearings at the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles that come with many motor vehicle offenses. Because the need arose, I have also been involved in non-criminal, or civil matters. At one time or another, I have appeared in every District and Superior Court in New Hampshire, as well as the Federal Court in Concord.
My greatest philanthropic interest is promoting the welfare of my local community, Wilmot, New Hampshire, where my wife and I reside. In Wilmot, I serve as the Chairman of the Board of Selectman as well as serve on the Wilmot Planning Board. Despite its relatively small size, Wilmot generates a fair amount of matters for its local boards to consider. Helping the Town where I live is something I truly enjoy.
Choosing a lawyer is a very personal decision. The client must feel that the fit is “right.” It is not an overstatement to say that you are entrusting your life to this person. You must have absolute confidence that your attorney understands you, understands your situation, and is fully prepared to advance your interests in the best possible way. No two cases are exactly alike, so I approach every case uniquely. “Cookie cutter” is not an option at Tarbell & Brodich.
The most common criticism I have heard about lawyers from their clients is lack of communication; client calls go unreturned, letters go unanswered, clients are given the silent treatment and left to worry until their lawyer has time to bring them up to speed. Often, this is right before a crucial deadline, or worse, just before a court appearance. In response, many lawyers promise they will “return all client calls within 24 hours,” or 36 hours, or some other arbitrary and self-imposed deadline. The difference with me is that I truly enjoy interacting with my clients. We are on the same team! We are colleagues. We are a united front. When I speak with my clients, my guard is down. There is no agenda. We are updating each other and planning the next move. For me, speaking with my clients is not a chore to be avoided or forced by a deadline. Rather, it gets me in “the zone” and reminds me why what I am about to accomplish is incredibly important. Interacting with my clients focuses and energizes me. If you ever find yourself to be one of my clients, you will experience firsthand how much of a difference this makes.
There are several things about Tarbell & Brodich that make me truly appreciate what we have created here. First and foremost, we are not profit driven. Of course, we all have to live, and we take good care of our hard working and incredibly loyal staff. But there is no pressure to bill, bill, and bill. At Tarbell & Brodich, our focus is on giving each case the time and attention we see fit and doing the right thing, every day, every time. A reputation for excellent legal representation and the needs of my client are my guides. Not money. As I learned when I was a new lawyer, an excellent reputation is priceless; it takes many, many years to create, but it can be undone with one case, or even one particularly poor decision. There is nothing I take more seriously than my reputation for providing outstanding legal representation.
The other aspect of practicing law at Tarbell & Brodich that I relish is the fact that we have a friendly, informal atmosphere. Though I find myself appearing in court or the Department of Motor Vehicles most days, when I have the luxury of an office day, you will never find me wearing a suit or tie. With me, what you see is what you get. When I appear in court or administratively, I show the respect and adhere to the long customs of these institutions. But when I am working in my office, my sleeves are usually rolled up.
We are also a dog friendly office. As you can see from the photos on our website, there are two dogs in the office just about every day. Caroline, a boxer owned by Eaton, and Vuk, my German Shepherd. They are very friendly and usually have the run of the office. Vuk likes to follow me, so you just might find him following along behind me when I come down to greet you. The majority of my clients love seeing and patting him. They say he drops their blood pressure about 20 points. Dentists have aquariums in their offices. I have a very gentle German Shepherd. I suspect there are not many law firms that would allow this, let alone embrace it. Tarbell & Brodich is different, from the moment you walk through the front door.
After you have known me for less than 15 minutes, you will know that I appreciate humor and like to have fun. My clients tell me it is infectious and projects confidence. It lightens their load almost immediately. What you will notice is that I actually have fun doing my job. I kid you not. Of course, some days and tasks are gut-wrenching. But by and large, I love walking into my office. But, of course, I do many other things for fun and recreation. Yes, I do the standard things you will find on every professional website under personal interest: “My wife and I are avid hikers and we love to kayak.” I guess that’s standard New Hampshire issue. But we also do some less popular things. My wife and I both own motorcycles. New Hampshire is a beautiful State to ride in, and we get out a lot. I am also a closet lumberjack. I head into our woods with my chainsaw and tractor and try to keep selective cutting our property. Physically demanding? Yes. But it’s also a great way to balance a job that is completely cerebral. We are also into astronomy. We secretly got each other telescopes last Christmas, and have been enjoying learning the layout of the night sky. And my most nerdy hobby of all: flying radio controlled helicopters. Don’t ask - it’s a long story.