By BILL SMITH New Hampshire Union Leader
MANCHESTER — In a legal career spanning a half century, Manchester attorney Jack Middleton has touched the state's legal system as a practitioner, as leader of one of the state's most prominent law firms, as an innovator and as a champion of an attorney's obligation to serve clients, the administration of justice and the public.
Middleton, president of the Manchester law firm McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton, will be recognized today as one of the recipients of the inaugural Granite State Legacy Awards, presented by the New Hampshire Union Leader and sponsored by Centrix Bank, honoring individuals who have given back to the state.
“Jack is in a category by himself, he's a unique individual,” said Jennifer Parent, current president of the New Hampshire Bar Association and a member of the McLane firm.
Middleton has served as president of the New Hampshire and New England bar associations and has held several offices with the American Bar Association, including stints as its secretary and as a member of the ABA House of Delegates and board of governors.
He is credited with leading New Hampshire to become the second state to adopt a system in which interest on client funds held by attorneys for a short period of time are used to fund legal services for the poor.
But Middleton's involvement with providing legal services extends beyond serving on committees. He is directly involved in representing needy victims of domestic violence as a volunteer attorney with DOVE, the Domestic Violence Emergency Project.
Manchester attorney Stephen Borofsky, who was a McLane associate before venturing out on his own, says the respect that Middleton commands with attorneys and judges makes him an effective advocate, both in the courtroom and in the profession.
“For my money, he's the best lawyer that I've ever met,” Borofsky said.
As head of one of the state's biggest law firms, Middleton has been active in community affairs, chairing the Chamber of Commerce and the United Way, and serving as a trustee or director of schools, his law school alumni association, New Hampshire Public Radio, and other civic, charitable and legal groups.
Parent, who joined the McLane firm as an associate attorney after graduating from law school, said Middleton's sense of civility in dealing with clients, adversaries and tribunals continues to be a model for her and other attorneys. “It's always that you are providing the best, top-quality legal services and that there's a professionalism when we're dealing with other lawyers and other parties in the courts,” she said.
This summer, the American Bar Association will recognize Middleton as a Fellow of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, a newly created honor recognizing exceptional leadership by the leaders of bar associations nationwide. He has previously been honored with civic and service awards ranging from New Hampshire Business Leader of the Year, to alumni awards from the University of New Hampshire and Boston University Law School.
An avid outdoorsman, Middleton's success is not limited to the courthouses and conference rooms of the legal profession. For decades, he applied for a moose hunting permit without being selected. When his name was finally drawn, he went out and bagged a 775-pound, 25-point moose, whose 68.5-inch rack set a state record.
Still, those who know him say Middleton's lasting legacy will be in the profession he has served for the past 55 years.
“Jack is respected and is looked up to by all New Hampshire lawyers universally,” Borofsky said. “Whatever you ask him to do, people respect his judgment and because of that he is able to get things done and get people to do things in a way others can't.”