The following appeared in a press release distributed by the Connecticut Bar Foundation:
The Connecticut Bar Foundation is pleased to announce that Natalie Wagner of West Hartford was named as the foundation’s interim executive director, effective May 28, 2019. Natalie has extensive legal experience in Connecticut’s public and private sectors. Her professional experience includes serving as the legal director to both the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management and State Department of Education as deputy counsel to the Office of Governor Malloy. Subsequently, she represented school districts and educational institutions throughout Connecticut as counsel at Shipman & Goodwin LLP. Natalie has also volunteered her time on numerous professional and community organizations. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College and the University of Connecticut School of Law, Natalie’s wide community reach and professional experience are an excellent fit for the foundation at this critical time in our tenure.
The Connecticut Bar Foundation works to increase access to justice by administering grants to legal services agencies that provide civil representation to those who cannot otherwise afford an attorney. Since 1952, the foundation also serves as an integral part of the legal community in Connecticut, working in partnership with judges, attorneys, and law schools to promote understanding and improvement of the law, legal institutions, and the legal profession.
On May 16, the Connecticut Law Tribune presented Dana R. Bucin of Murtha Cullina LLP with the 2019 Connecticut Attorney of the Year Award. Awards were also presented to first runner-up Jon Bauer, director of the University of Connecticut School of Law’s Asylum and Human Rights Clinic, and second runner-up Moy Ogilvie of McCarter & English LLP.
Attorney Bucin helped secure the release of two Cuban nationals from Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody last year and has given critical help to clients from around the world in gaining legal immigration status.
“It’s not easy to be an immigration lawyer,” shared Attorney Bucin. “Its fighting hard in the trenches, and in immigration courts across the country, and visiting clients in detention centers, and that takes its emotional toll on you.”
On May 6, 2019 Executive Director of Greater Hartford Legal Aid Jamey L. Bell, received the inaugural Anthony M. Fitzgerald Award for Excellence by the Connecticut Bar Foundation (CBF). This award honors legal service providers and attorneys who demonstrate a commitment to the provision of zealous and skilled legal representation for low income clients, including direct client and other activities that ensure that Connecticut citizens have legal representation when facing important civil legal concerns affecting their safety, health, shelter, and survival.
Attorney Bell has more than 35 years of experience as an attorney and policy advocate in the areas of health care access, education, child welfare, and family economic security. She provides day-to-day oversight of Greater Hartford Legal Aid, including administrative, financial, advocacy, personnel, strategic planning, communications, and legislative issues. She serves on the CBA Pro Bono Committee and the Connecticut Judicial Branch Access to Justice Libraries Work Group.
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.
Earn your 12 MCLE credits with the Connecticut Legal Conference* This event sold out last year – reserve your spot today!
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Learn more information about the day and view seminar details.
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*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.
Committees are critical to our success as a member-driven organization. Service on a committee is a great way to advance your profession, build your network, and share your expertise with fellow members.
Don’t delay! Request forms must be submitted by midnight on Friday, May 31, 2019. Once received, President-elect Ndidi N. Moses will review the requests with the committee chairs and finalize appointments.
If you have any questions about the form or the process, contact Carol DeJohn at (860)612-2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CBA members John P. Casey and Evan J. Seeman of Robinson+Cole helped reopen the New London Harbor Lighthouse through representation in a pro bono litigation. The lighthouse has now been reopened to the public after four years, due to the City issuing a cease an desist order prohibiting public tours.
In 2015, neighbors of the lighthouse feared it would become a commercial tourist destination, causing the New London Maritime Society to be barred from hosting tours. Attorneys Casey and Seeman worked on the case from the initial appeal of the cease and desist order, which was initially upheld by the New London Zoning Board of Appeals, to an appeal of the Board’s decision to the Connecticut Superior Court that resulted in the order being over turned.
Attorney Casey concentrates his practice on land use and environmental matters, with particular emphasis on coastal management, development, permitting, and littoral and riparian water rights. Attorney Seeman concentrates his practice in land use and zoning, real property litigation, and municipal law. He is also a member of the CBA Planning & Zoning and Real Property Committees.