Sorokin & Sorokin thrived and eventually merged with Gross, Hyde & Williams. In 2000, the firm merged yet again, this time into Pullman & Comley. In more than 40 years of practice, Sorokin handled several key cases involving freedom of the press and business interests of newspapers.
One early win came in 1968, when she represented the Journal Inquirer daily newspaper in Manchester, Conn., after it was created by the merger of two weeklies. The newspaper locked horns with the Hartford Courant, which wanted to block the J-I from publishing the syndicated column "Dear Abby" and the cartoon "Peanuts." The Courant argued that Manchester was too close to Hartford and that the Courant would be at a competitive disadvantage if the upstart paper published the same syndicated features.
The U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division stepped in, negotiations followed, and Sorokin's client reached a successful settlement. A few years later, she represented a Journal Inquirer reporter who was arrested for refusing to leave an Enfield town council meeting. The newspaper claimed the meeting was being illegally closed to the public. In the civil case that followed, Sorokin persuaded the court to rule in the newspaper's favor. The decision helped shape the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act of 1975.
It was in the early 1970s that Robinson, who now works in Pullman's Hartford office, got his start with the Sorokins' firm. "I started working there in what might pass as a summer associate program," he said. "But it was a lot less formal than that. My father-in-law had a sandwich shop in the same building as the law firm, and he asked them if they could use me. And they did. True story."
Robinson spoke glowingly of Ethel's energy and determination and recalled how well the husband-and-wife team worked together. "They had a great love," he said.
One of Ethel's great skills, he said, was developing client relationships. "Their friends were their clients and their clients became their friends," he said.
Ethel was also an astute strategist in all sorts of cases, equally adept at handling divorces and fighting against media cross-ownership of newspapers and television stations. "All of this happened while she brought up these incredible kids," Robinson said.
FREE PRESS TOPICS
One of Sorokin's children is a doctor and two went to law school. A son, Leo T. Sorokin, is a federal magistrate judge in Boston.