New Hampshire

From avid skier to ‘Super Lawyer’

Dick Samuels’ contributions to New Hampshire as an attorney at McLane Middleton can be attributed to skiing.

Samuels received his Bachelor of Arts from Union College in New York and his Master of Arts from Duke University in North Carolina. Then it was off to the slopes.

“After college, I worked and skied in Switzerland and in the Mad River Valley of Vermont,” he said, but adds, “To make a living and ski, it’s hard to get into bindings in a ski shop work.”

So Samuels went to law school and received his Juris Doctorate from Cornell Law School in 1980. While he was planning to return to Vermont, he said New Hampshire’s economy was much stronger than Vermont’s, so he settled in Granite State and joined McLane Middleton in 1980.

“I was like, what the heck, New Hampshire is close to Vermont,” he said. “I have no regrets whatsoever about this decision to come to New Hampshire.”

Samuels became a director of McLane Middleton in 1987 and served as managing director of the firm from 2013 to 2018. He has been recognized by Best Lawyers as “Best Lawyers in America” ​​every year since 1993 and as a New England “Super Lawyer” in the Industry/Corporate category every year since 2007.

Samuels will receive the Business & Industry Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 109th Annual BIA Dinner and Awards Celebration presented by Eversource on Wednesday October 26 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Manchester. dr New Hampshire Community College System graduate Susan Huard and television journalist and businessman Fred Kocher also received Lifetime Achievement Awards. Waypoint received the BIA’s New Hampshire Advantage Award.

Samuels said he would not have had the career he has had or the attorney he is without the firm and his colleagues. After 32 years at McLane, Samuels was selected as managing director.

“I didn’t ask or want to be CEO, but once I asked,” he said, “I felt like I owed it to the company.”

Samuels said his tenure has allowed the company to grow and strengthen its areas of operation. With the support of Cathy Schmidt, the company’s President and CEO, he worked to make McLane Middleton a better place to work and better for today’s workforce, especially younger people.

“We have increased the number of non-white male directors and shareholders,” Samuels said. “That’s not to say we don’t have a way to go.”

Other highlights include creating policies for remote work and improving technology. This allowed the firm to weather COVID-19, which hit shortly after he resigned as chief executive.

Samuels spent more than 40 years at McLane Middleton, which was founded in 1919 and is the largest and most diverse law firm in New Hampshire. He now works part-time and specializes in securities law, mergers and acquisitions, corporate law, banking law and energy, utilities and telecommunications. His career has been marked by tremendous changes brought about by mergers and acquisitions and increasingly complex securities regulations.

“The number of sales and changes of control of companies has increased significantly over the years,” he said. “Our experience in processing transactions has grown enormously. Transactional work is very intensive. I don’t do it anymore because it’s usually a full-time job, every day, sometimes more than eight hours a day for months.”

Samuels saw firsthand the changing business environment in New Hampshire. During the early part of his career he was responsible for the regulation of utility companies. He represented Manchester Gas Company which merged with Nashua Gas Service and then Concord Gas to become EnergyNorth Natural Gas. EnergyNorth was then acquired by KeySpan, which eventually merged with National Grid. National Grid later sold EnergyNorth to Liberty Energy Utilities Co., a subsidiary of Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. headquartered in Canada.

“This is a great example of how businesses have moved in New Hampshire,” Samuels said. “When I first joined the firm, our firm represented small public companies based in New Hampshire.”

Samuels said the nationalization and internationalization of the business has reduced New Hampshire-based public companies to about two handfuls, and the number of New Hampshire law firms is near zero. This led to an increased focus in the securities practice on private companies and the regulation of registered consultancies and brokers. Only five to 10 law firms in New Hampshire do this type of representation, he said.

The small business boom in New Hampshire in the 1990s created the need for new regulatory and tax policies. New Hampshire was among the first states to enact a limited liability company law in 1993. Wyoming was the first in 1977, and 40 states passed LLC statutes between 1992 and 1997, the New Hampshire Securities Act and earlier versions of the state Business Corporation and Limited Liability Company Acts.

Samuels explained that the purpose behind LLCs originally, and now, is to create entities that are legally separate from the owners like corporations, but are treated as sole proprietorships or partnerships for tax purposes. New Hampshire law permits an LLC, like a partnership, to distribute profits to its owners without distributions being taxed as corporate dividends. In 2009, lawmakers passed legislation extending state interest and dividend taxes to LLCs, a move strongly opposed by small business owners. The law was repealed in 2010.

Samuels, chairman of the BIA board of directors from 2010-11 and past chairman of the BIA finance committee, said any LLC distribution that would be taxed like a corporate dividend misses the heart of LLCs, which have become a strength of the New Hampshire business climate be.

“Since the enactment of the LLC Act, the vast majority of new businesses are LLCs because of the tax liability benefits,” he said. “If we enacted that, it would have been detrimental to New Hampshire businesses, and we didn’t want that.”

However, Samuels adds that while any tax on corporations or business owners is superficially unfavorable, the analysis should include the impact of opposing taxes. He calls the state’s reliance on corporate and wealth taxes unfortunate, but adds that not having a sales tax has been beneficial.

“It’s important not to be knee-jerk when it comes to corporate taxation,” said Samuel, who was a member of the New Hampshire governor’s Revenue Estimating Panel. “Overall, New Hampshire has a business-friendly tax environment, especially when compared to other northeastern states.”

For a list of previous BIA Lifetime Achievement Award winners, visit https://bit.ly/BIAhonorees.

Rick Fabrizio is Director of Communications for the BIA, the New Hampshire State Chamber of Commerce, and a senior corporate attorney.

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