Celebrate with the Stars: A Night of Honor and Inspiration

Over 450 guests were in attendance at the sixth annual “Celebrate with the Stars” event on April 11 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville. President Jonathan M. Shapiro began the night by acknowledging the support of the many dignitaries in attendance, including Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Attorney General William M. Tong, and United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut John H. Durham.

The first recognition of the evening was for members of the bar admitted in 1969, who were honored for their 50 years of practice with Half-century pins.

The awards presentation began with The Honorable Anthony V. DeMayo Pro Bono Award. The winners of this award, as selected by the Pro Bono Committee, exhibit commitment to pro bono service and serve as role models for the profession. This year’s winners were: Rebecca L. Ciota, Jennifer L. Hluska, Brittany A. Killian, Jane I. Milas, and Stephanie B. Nickse.

YLS Chair David A. McGrath presented the Young Lawyers Section Vanguard Award to Melanie P. Dykas, who gave a special “thank you” to President Shapiro, crediting him as the one that brought her into the YLS nearly seven years ago. She encouraged attendees to “go home and take a moment to reflect on all the opportunities and the privileges that we’ve all been lucky enough to have to get us here today and try to think of ways to create those opportunities for others.”

A unique distinction for this year, President Shapiro presented Morton N. Katz with the President’s Special Recognition. “In this role as president, you sometimes see something that amazes you in an entirely different way and I had that happen to me this year. Perhaps it’s fitting that we just honored someone from the Young Lawyers Section that we now turn to someone who’s on the opposite end of the career spectrum: Attorney Morton Katz,” stated President Shapiro. Attorney Katz, who turns 100 in May of this year, has been practicing since 1951 and has spent much of his career giving back to others. Along with his recognition, he was presented with a citation from Governor Ned Lamont, which read, in part:

You have earned this distinction by your peers [for] your years of volunteer efforts and advocacy on behalf of the principles you hold dear as an engaged citizen in the legal counsel that you provide as a member of the Connecticut Bar Association to which you admirably provide assistance to veterans. You have given back to your community at large, volunteering for the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs’ Stand Down event, annually. Your dedication to the practice of law is an inspiration to both current and future attorneys.

After dinner, the signature awards were presented by President Jonathan M. Shapiro, President-elect Ndidi N. Moses, and Vice President Amy Lin Meyerson.

The first signature award was presented to Justine C. Rakich-Kelly, the winner of the Charles J. Parker Legal Services Award for her dedication to the delivery of legal services to the disadvantaged in Connecticut, who shared that CBA Past President “Norm Janes [was] my first Legal Aid boss, who introduced me to the Legal Aid community, which is filled with hardworking, committed, and smart people. I am honored to be a part of it.”

The Citizen for the Law Award was presented to the night’s only two non-attorney honorees, Pastor AJ Johnson and Cori Mackey, both from the Christian Activities Council, for their significant contribution to the institution of justice and the law.

Krishna R. Patel was honored with the Citizen of the Law Award for her work as an active strategist, combating human trafficking on the global, national, and state levels for the Grace Farms Foundation.

The Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award was presented to Hon. William I. Garfinkel of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut for his substantial contributions to the administration of justice in Connecticut.

President-elect Moses and Immediate Past President DeMeola, former students of Professor Willajeanne F. McLean, presented her with the Tapping Reeve Legal Educator Award for her commitment to legal education in the state. Attorney DeMeola shared moving remarks about her former professor: “As I reflected on tonight, I wanted to honor and recognize what happens when law students and young attorneys see themselves reflected in their leaders. Professor McLean saw us as we were—she taught us, empowered us, influenced us, and inspired us to become our best selves. Representatives of two generations of black lawyers are on this stage and it’s really important because we are, because you are.”

CBA Past President Mark A. Dubois was given the Edward F. Hennessey Professionalism Award for his dedication to the highest ideals and ethical standards of the legal profession throughout his over 40 years in the profession, between his time as Connecticut’s first chief disciplinary counsel, where he established an office that investigated and prosecuted attorney misconduct and the unauthorized practice of law, to his many years as a dedicated teacher to both law students and colleagues.

The John Eldred Shields Distinguished Professional Service Award was bestowed upon Hon. Anne C. Dranginis (Ret.) for her many years of service to the legal community and the community at large. “This professionalism that we all aspire to every day—that we all act upon in a variety of ways—is an important role that we have and we have been given a great opportunity. We have all been given a lot….We are rich in ideas we are rich in what we can give to our communities and we have to keep giving,” stated Judge Dranginis.

The final award of the evening was the Distinguished Public Service Award, given to former attorney general, George C. Jepsen for his significant contributions both as a private citizen and public official on initiatives to eradicate domestic violence and raise awareness about the issues related to domestic violence and its impact on victims and society.  He shared how grateful he was to have worked with all those at the Office of the Attorney General, stating “It has been the experience and honor of a lifetime to serve as state attorney general for the last eight years.”

In addition to their awards, the honorees were presented with citations from Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill, and Senator Richard L. Blumenthal.

The evening concluded with dessert cordials, along with music, and the third annual “Dancing with the CBA Stars” dance contest.

For more photos from the night’s festivities, view our Facebook album, “Sixth Annual Celebrate with the Stars.”

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The 2019 Celebrate with the Stars award winners.

 

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Registration Now Open for the Connecticut Legal Conference

Earn your 12 MCLE credits with the Connecticut Legal Conference*
This event sold out last year – reserve your spot today!

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June 10, 2019

Over 40 CLE seminars covering: practice-focused annual reviews and updates; cutting-edge trends in legal technology, law practice management, and major practice areas; and recent developments in legal ethics.

Learn more information about the day and view seminar details.

Only $289 for members!

*Includes four in-person conference seminars (6.0 CLE credits) and post-conference access to multiple on-demand audio seminars, allowing you to fulfill all 12 mandatory CLE credits.

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Retired Superior Court Judge Lynda B. Munro Receives 2019 Ladder Award

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2019 Ladder Award Winner Hon. Lynda B. Munro and her colleagues, Hon. Anne C. Dranginis and CBA Past President Livia D. Barndollar (2008-2009), both of Pullman & Comley LLC.

The CBA Women in the Law Section, in association with the CBA Young Lawyers Section (YLS) Women in the Law Committee, honored retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Lynda B. Munro as the 2019 recipient of the Ladder Award at “Pathways to Leadership for Women Lawyers,” held on March 28 at Saint Clements Castle in Portland, CT.

The Ladder Award was created by the YLS Women in the Law Committee in 2007 to honor a woman attorney who has “left the ladder down” for those women to follow in her footsteps. The award is aimed at honoring the efforts of women in the legal profession who have recognized the importance of mentoring and supporting more junior lawyers in their own journeys to success in the profession. Judge Munro has joined a distinguished group of female attorneys, including Former US Attorney for the District of Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly, Justice Maria A. Kahn, Diane W. Whitney, Hon. Anne C. Dranginis, Rosemary Giuliano, and Hon. Elizabeth J. Stewart.

Women in the Law Section Chair Jennifer E. Wheelock welcomed attendees to the inspiring event before introducing keynote speaker, the Honorable Elizabeth A. Bozzuto, who discussed the gender issues in the legal profession, dating back to the 1880s: “Let us be mindful of the fact that women have, and continue to be, the minority group within the legal profession, and we need to recognize, support, and honor those who came before us to make it easier for those of us who follow to achieve great success in the law; Lynda is one of those people.” She believes women have come a long way in the field, but when it comes to equality and civility for women in the legal profession, there is still more to be done.

Judge Munro was introduced by her colleagues Judge Anne C. Dranginis (ret.) and CBA Past President Livia D. Barndollar (2008-2009), both of Pullman & Comley LLC. Attorney Barndollar further explored the ongoing gender issues in the legal profession by citing a study of gender bias in the administration of justice, which was put out by the Task Force on Gender, Justice, and the Courts in 1995. The study reported the statistical growth of women in the legal profession: seven percent (eight out of 112) of Connecticut Superior Court judges were women in 1980, increasing to 15 percent (24 out of 158) by early 1995. Currently, of the 154 Connecticut Superior Court judges, nearly 65 are female. Attorney Barndollar noted that “The CBA has always tried to ensure everyone is treated equally, whatever their gender, identity, race, or age.”

Judge Dranginis reminisced of her time shared with Judge Munro at the Connecticut Superior Court, expressing, “She was never selfish. She always allowed others to join the conversation to help make a better profession and practice.”

A standing ovation escorted Judge Munro to the podium. In acceptance of her award, she asserted the importance of being unconscious role models and mentors to not only help continue to leave the ladder down for young female attorneys, but to help change the world. “Its a crazy, scary world we live in, but if we do these great mentorship activities, I believe we can make the world a better place,” she stated.

For photos of the night’s event, visit our Facebook photo album!

Appellate Advocacy Section Meets with Chief Justice Robinson

Chief Justice Richard Robinson

On March 20, the CBA Appellate Advocacy Section held an informal meeting with Chief Justice Richard A. Robinson at Robinson+Cole’s Hartford office. This session was one in a series, where the section invites judges of the appellate courts to its meetings to exchange ideas on issues of concern to the bench and bar. Forty members of the section attended the meeting, which was moderated by section Co-chairs Thomas Donlon and James Sexton.

Chief Justice Robinson began with thoughtful and engaging comments on appellate practice. In addition to the common exhortations to make briefs shorter and limit the number of issues, he spoke about the importance of managing client expectations–explaining what an appellate court can and cannot do in a particular case. Additionally, he addressed the issue of implicit bias, and the importance of advocates being careful their interactions with judges did not differ based on race or gender, sharing an example of an argument where an attorney constantly interrupted one of the female justices, but none of the male justices. On another topic, he stressed that an advocate’s credibility is key and that misrepresenting the facts or the law in a case can be devastating for that attorney’s reputation in the future. Finally, Chief Justice Robinson spoke of the the importance of section members reaching out to trial attorneys and including them in section discussions. Not only are trial attorneys handling an appeal less likely to be as experienced in the unique appellate procedures, but their decisions at trial on matters such as preservation of the record have, a critical impact on the likelihood of success on appeal, regardless of who writes the brief or argues.

Chief Justice Robinson then entertained questions from attendees. A wide range of issues were covered, including the Supreme Court’s new procedure for inviting amicus briefs, how to prepare a successful petition for certification, public response to high profile decisions, the challenges of self-represented parties, and how to question a trial court’s decision without appearing to personally attack the trial judge. Section members thanked Chief Justice Robinson for the opportunity to discuss issues that  affect their practice, as well as to offer positive suggestions to problems that confront the Court. The chief justice graciously stayed after the general discussion concluded to talk with members individually.

Upcoming Event: Representing Victims of Childhood Trauma

ResilienceJoin us on April 4, 2019 at UConn School of Law in Hartford for a screening of the film,  Resilience: The Biology of Stress & the Science of Hope, a one-hour documentary about the science of childhood trauma and the movement to treat and prevent toxic stress. Following the film, learn about the long-term impact of traumatic events on children; discuss ways the medical community, legal community, and judicial system can assist victims of trauma; and create a framework for understanding how attorneys and health care providers can represent clients who have experienced traumatic events in a way that prevents continued trauma.

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Section Spotlight: YLS Hosts Pro Bono Hour

On Tuesday, January 22, the Young Lawyers Section held its Pro Bono Hour program at Herd Restaurant in Middletown. More than 50 members in attendance learned about pro bono opportunities in a variety of practice areas for ten different Connecticut organizations. Representatives from each of the pro bono organizations detailed the current projects, time requirements, and available training.

“The Pro Bono Hour was a wonderful opportunity for YLS members from a range of organizations—both in-house council and those at firms—to learn about the pro bono opportunities available throughout the state,” said YLS Assistant Pro Bono Director Alexandra J. Cavaliere. “It is my hope that those in attendance will take these opportunities back to their firms to expand the reach of the messages shared by the pro bono representatives that night.”

Attendees were encouraged by many of the pro bono representatives to examine their availability and passions and to approach an organization to see how they can help. Currently the need for pro bono service is great, any volunteer assistance is appreciated. For more volunteer opportunities, visit ctbar.org/probonoorganizations.

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Ashleigh Backman of Statewide Legal Services discussing available pro bono opportunities.

 

Mindfulness for Lawyers CLE

It’s the latest buzzword in business. It’s being taught at Harvard and at Wharton. It’s being talked about at prestigious leadership conferences like Davos. It’s being practiced at places like Google, Apple, and Aetna Healthcare.

Everyone’s excited about it because the science shows that it reduces stress, enhances wellness, increases productivity, and significantly improves the bottom line.

At this seminar, Walt Hampton taught attendees how mindfulness can help them improve their focus, productivity, and effectiveness with clients; the science behind mindfulness; and how to start a mindfulness practice.

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