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This I do believe…Each of us has a purposeful task- that our individual roles are all different but each of us has the same obligation to do the best he can…every living person has the right to criticize constructively, the right honestly to hold unpopular beliefs…the right of independent thought…My creed is that public service must be more than doing a job effectively and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation.
- U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith
A quiet, steady voice for justice, Merton Henry has honored these beliefs throughout his professional career. He grew up in Maine and was the first in his family to receive a BA degree, graduating from Bowdoin College, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He went on to receive his LLB from George Washington University Law School, where he was on the staff of the Law Review and where he met his late wife, the Hon. Harriet Henry. He got his political start working for Margaret Chase Smith, the legendary senator who challenged McCarthyism, and has remained active in national and local politics ever since. In 1961, he helped found the law firm of Jensen Baird Gardener & Henry, later serving as its managing partner. Today, he is “of counsel” to the firm.
Mert has been personally involved in many key events that helped shape and expand Maine’s civil justice system. In the 1980’s, Mert provided an important voice in establishing the Maine Bar Foundation and the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project, as well as the IOLTA program. In the early 1990’s, he helped develop the Muskie Access to Justice Award Dinner. In 2004, he and Judge Henry served as co-chairs of the first unified fundraising appeal on behalf of six legal aid providers in Maine, the Campaign for Justice, which now generates $300,000 each year in annual contributions from Maine lawyers and law firms. Throughout his career, Mert has served as a mentor for lawyers and public servants wanting to match his high level of professionalism and commitment to the public good. A past President of both the Cumberland Bar Association and the New England Bar Association, he has received honorary Doctor of Law degrees from Bowdoin Collage, Northwood University and Saint Joseph’s College. Other organizations and causes which have benefited from his personal involvement include Bowdoin College, Maine Medical Center, the Maine Commission on Governmental Reorganization, the Maine Productivity Realization Task Force, the Maine Community Foundation, the Margaret Chase Smith Library, Southern Maine Technical College Foundation, and several private foundations.