Elliott Berry, one of the most prominent anti-poverty advocates in New Hampshire for nearly 50 years and the architect of many of its legal protections for tenants, has announced he will be retreating at the end of October.
Berry, an attorney at NH Legal Assistance for his entire career, has worked for the agency since 1975, starting as a VISTA volunteer after graduating from Boston College Law School.
“I never had an interest in going to a for-profit law firm,” Berry said. “The truth is, I’m not fascinated by the law. I’m motivated by what I can do with the law for people who have extremely limited power and resources. The opportunities to do this in New Hampshire were quite limited for a nonprofit lawyer. So here I am, and here I stayed,” Berry said.
During his tenure, Berry has worked on thousands of cases for individual clients, as well as numerous appeals and class action cases.
He also handled a series of successful cases in the 1990s that challenged municipal zoning restrictions that included development of housing for low- and moderate-income families. He was also instrumental in NHLA’s representation of people incarcerated in state prison, resulting in greater access to rehabilitative programs and mental health care for both men and women as well as the construction in the 2010s of a new prison facility for women in Concord.
“Those are the pieces of litigation that stand out in my mind as quite meaningful to me,” Berry said. “But every time I prevent a family from getting tossed out of subsidized housing, knowing they could not possibly afford rent that is not subsidized, that is also incredibly meaningful, every time.”
Beyond the courtroom, Berry has also been a fixture at the NH Legislature, advocating