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Joanne M. Stella, Esq.
Attorney At Law


Attorney Joanne M. Stella has been representing clients in New Hampshire since graduating from Boston University School of Law in 1993. Over 25 years of outstanding and compassionate criminal defense and civil litigation.


During law school Attorney Stella was a research assistant to a law professor working on Title VII and IX Sexual Harassment laws. She spent her first summer interning for an International Dispute Resolution Firm in London, England and spent her second summer working for the Alaska Public Defender’s Office where she gained a passion for representing those falsely accused of crimes.


Upon graduation and up until 1996, Attorney Stella worked tirelessly as a court appointed counsel for indigent defendants in the criminal courts. As a New Hampshire Public Defender her caseload included felony level sexual assault and drug cases, as well as misdemeanor criminal offenses and juvenile delinquency offenses.


After leaving the Public Defender’s office Attorney Stella began her own practice as the contract attorney hired to provide legal services to all full-time students at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). During her 18 year tenure as the UNH legal services attorney she has represented over 9,000 students. Many thousands of those cases involved drug and alcohol offenses, as well as the litany of criminal offenses often connected to the use of substances such as DWI, Possession of Fake IDs, Simple Assault, Resisting Arrest, Underage Intoxication, etc. Attorney Stella has experience representing those charged locally by the Durham Police, UNH Police, Dover Police, New Hampshire Liquor Law Enforcement Officer and New Hampshire State Police as well as representation in the surrounding communities such as Newmarket and Portsmouth. In addition to guidance in their criminal cases, UNH students received expert advice from Attorney Stella on the collateral consequences affecting their status as a student for such things as financial aid, scholarships, study abroad, disciplinary matters, immigration issues for international students and the potential impact on future employment. Attorney Stella has the knowledge and experience to guide young adults through this maze of sanctions that can occur as a collateral consequence of being arrested. Also, during her time at UNH Attorney Stella counseled thousands of students involved in landlord tenant disputes and twice argued their cases successfully in the New Hampshire Supreme Court.


Attorney Stella has tried hundreds of cases, both criminal and civil, and everything in between from Supreme Court appeals to motor vehicle hearings. She has represented thousands of clients and has a proven track record of success. Attorney Stella always provides a free consultation and will take the time address each client’s needs expertly and with compassion.

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Some Stats...

Attorney Joanne M. Stella has extensive courtroom experience. In the last 5 years alone she has tried and won 50 cases-50 cases with a not guilty or dismissed verdict. She has represented over 9,000 UNH students and litigated thousands of cases in her vast 20 years’ experience.


She has represented clients in courts all over the state on criminal and civil issues and has even successfully argued cases in the New Hampshire Supreme Court.


Green v. Sumner Properties, LLC., 873 A.2d 497, 152 N.H. 183 (NH 2005)


Miller v. Slania Enterprises, Inc. 843 A.2d 939, 150 N.H. 655 (N.H. 2004).  


Some insight…

For over 15 years Attorney Stella has been a volunteer attorney for the DOVE program. She regularly takes cases on a pro bono basis to represent those in need of immediate legal assistance in obtaining a domestic violence restraining order against their abuser.


Attorney Stella also regularly volunteers her time to accept a range of pro bono cases. In 2010 she won the Rockingham County Pro Bono Award:  "For over a decade, Joanne Stella has steadfastly accepted Pro Bono cases, investing scores of volunteer hours of service to low-income clients on the Seacoast.  Whether helping families work through their divorce and parenting cases or responding to emergency calls from crisis center advocates to help domestic abuse victims, she has compassionately advocated for her client's legal interest."  NH Bar News, January 15, 2015 p. 29.


Attorney Stella actively lectures in Durham, in her hometown of Portsmouth New Hampshire, and across the State on issues involving teenagers and young adults and their choices regarding drugs and alcohol and the intersection of those choices and the criminal justice system. She is passionate about her work representing young adults as they navigate through a complex adult world.

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