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.

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Young Lawyers Section Habitat for Humanity Build

2019 Habitat LogoThe CBA Young Lawyers Section is excited to participate in a build for Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity again this year at a construction site in Hartford on March 30, 2019. Not only will they be volunteering time to help build a home here in Greater Hartford, they have also committed to fundraising in support of Hartford Habitat’s mission to provide safe, decent, affordable housing here in the Hartford community. Donate today to help reach their fundraising goal!

YLS Honors Asha Rangappa with Diversity Award

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YLS Chair David A. McGrath, YLS Senior Advisor Suphi A. Philip, and Diversity Award recipient Asha Rangappa.

The Young Lawyers Section (YLS) held its eleventh Diversity Award Dinner on February 7  at Amarante’s Sea Cliff in New Haven. The honor was presented to Asha Rangappa—former FBI agent, CNN contributor, and senior lecturer at Yale University—for her outstanding efforts on behalf of diversity.

YLS Chair David A. McGrath introduced the event and provided the background of the award. The YLS Diversity Award is presented to a person in the legal field who has shown both a personal and professional commitment to the elimination of bias in the legal profession as well as the principle that all people should have full and equal protection in the justice system.

YLS Senior Advisor Suphi A. Philip introduced Attorney Rangappa, noting that the recipient is “the embodiment of a creative, persevering spirit.” To illustrate this point, Attorney Philip shared an anecdote about Attorney Rangappa’s FBI physical fitness exam. After suffering contused ribs in a car accident, Attorney Rangappa continued her training and was able to complete the required running, push-up, pull-up, and sit-up drills to stay in the program beyond the required minimum.

Asha Rangappa is a director of admissions and senior lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and a former associate dean at Yale Law School. Prior to her current position, she served as a special agent in the New York Division of the FBI, specializing in counterintelligence investigations. She was one of the first Indian-American female recruits to the FBI after the agency began a post-9/11 push for diversity and inclusion. Her work involved assessing threats to the national security, conducting classified investigations on suspected foreign agents, and performing undercover work. While in the FBI, Attorney Rangappa gained experience in intelligence trade craft, electronic surveillance, interview and interrogation techniques, and firearms and the use of deadly force.

In her previous role as Yale Law School’s dean of admissions, she was a part of the school’s efforts to increase diversity, which resulted in the most diverse class in Yale Law School’s history, in 2017.

Consistently involved in the Connecticut legal community, Attorney Rangappa has served on the boards of the South Asian Bar Association of Connecticut (SABAC), the Connecticut chapters of the Society of Former Agents of the FBI, and the National Organization for Women (NOW). She has long supported Young Lawyers Section programs, including its Annual Women’s Professional Golf Event.

Attorney Rangappa graciously thanked the CBA and the organizations in attendance in support of her, stating: “Both [Yale] Law School and SABAC have played important roles in both shaping my career and offering me different perspectives on diversity and how it intersects with the legal profession.” She shared that she receives calls from South Asian girls and women each week who want to discuss a potential career in law enforcement or national security; many of them say that this career path had simply never occurred to them as something that they could do until they saw it in front of them.

She concluded the evening with a nod to the future of diversity and inclusion: “We as underrepresent[ed] groups in the legal profession in this country have a responsibility to paint a picture where our communities can’t see this path as one that they belong in and can belong in, and not only because doing so reflects the America we live in, but because it protects it as well.”

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.

 

Young Lawyers Section Collects over 30,000 Meals This Holiday Season

donations photoThe Young Lawyers Section’s Horn of Plenty Food Drive collected over 30,000 meals for Connecticut residents struggling with hunger this fall. Food drive participants’ monetary donations were matched two to one by Feeding America’s Give a Meal with Bank of America program. The YLS also collected food items for Connecticut Foodbank and Foodshare at law firms across the state.

The Horn of Plenty Food Drive was organized by YLS Public Service Co-directors Joanna M. Kornafel and Linda A. Bulkovitch. Cindy M. Cieslak, Sara J. Dickson, Jonathan E. Friedler, Ron J. Houde, Jr., Meredith F. McBride, and Molly C. Sanford assisted with the food collection.

“This year’s Horn of Plenty was a huge success because of the team of volunteers that helped collect food and monetary donations as well as the greater Connecticut bar community that supported our efforts,” shared YLS Public Service Co-directors Linda A. Bulkovitch and Joanna M. Kornafel. “Together we all made a difference in fighting hunger in our home state. Thank you to everyone. We know that we really made a positive difference.”

Monetary donations were made by Attorneys Austin Berescik-Johns, Patricia M. Carreiro, David A, McGrath, and Diane W. Whitney, as well as Green & Sklarz LLC, Polinsky Law Group, and Rose Kallor LLP.

Section Spotlight: Workers’ Compensation Section

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Hon. Nancy E. Salerno

On December 6, the CBA Workers’ Compensation Section hosted a retirement celebration for Commissioner Nancy E. Salerno at the La Bella Vista in Waterbury. More than 300 section members, workers’ compensation commissioners and attorneys, claim representatives, family, friends, and colleagues celebrated and thanked Commissioner Salerno for her 15 years of service to the commission.

The CBA Workers’ Compensation Section aims to organize members of the CBA who are workers’ compensation practitioners and to educate all members of the bar from all sides at all levels of expertise as to workers’ compensation law. Furthermore, this section attempts to provide services to organizations other than the CBA when those organizations are involved in the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation system.

Interested in joining the section? You can join the Workers’ Compensation Section at any time throughout the bar year.

Section Spotlight: Workers’ Compensation

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Commissioner John A. Mastropietro

On September 20, the CBA Workers’ Compensation Section sponsored a retirement dinner for Commissioner John A. Mastropietro at La Bella Vista in Waterbury. Section members, workers’ compensation attorneys, claim representatives, family, friends, and colleagues joined together to wish the commissioner well in future endeavors.

The CBA Workers’ Compensation Section aims to organize the members of the CBA who are workers’ compensation practitioners and to educate all members of the bar from all sides at all levels of expertise as to workers’ compensation law. Furthermore, this section attempts to provide services to organizations other than the CBA when those organizations are involved in the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation system.

Interested in joining the section? You can join the Workers’ Compensation Section at any time throughout the bar year.