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Legal Ethics

Top NH Lawmaker Resigns—Twice—After Law Firm Partner Questions Law School Internship Hours

Posted May 29, 2012 12:28 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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The majority leader of the New Hampshire House of Representatives resigned over the weekend after a fellow state lawmaker who operates his own law firm raised questions about the hours former Rep. D.J. Bettencourt reportedly claimed to have worked there during an internship required for his law degree.

Initially, Bettencourt announced he would be leaving June 7 to pursue other career options and spend more time with family, as fellow lawmakers praised him for his service. But Campton lawyer and state Rep. Brandon Giuda told the Nashua Telegraph he wasn't satisfied with the lack of disclosure concerning Bettencourt's internship issue at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

Bettencourt then resigned, effective immediately, on Sunday, acknowledging "It is true that I misrepresented work as work I performed for attorney Giuda" in a written statement provided to WMUR.

“I will continue working with UNH School of Law to resolve this matter and I fully trust the process they have in place,” Bettencourt wrote. “That process is nonpublic, and that is how I plan to proceed.”

Giuda said Bettencourt spent only about one hour working at his law firm but provided documents to the law school showing that he worked about 150 hours over 11 weeks.

He said he got a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach when he saw a photo of Bettencourt in law school graduation garb on the lawmaker's Facebook page. At that point, Giuda sought information from the law school about what had been claimed concerning the internship at his law firm.

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