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Connecticut Bar Association members practicing in firms of five or fewer attorneys: 4,286. CBA standing committees addressing their needs: 0. At least that’s how it stood this summer when Middlebury, Conn., solo Anthony R. Minchella placed a call to CBA President Frederic S. Ury, of Ury & Moskow in Fairfield, Conn. Atrophy and disinterest led to the demise of the bar association’s former section for solo and small firm lawyers three years ago. Since then, there has been no cry from the CBA’s general membership for the group’s revival, according to Ury. Until Minchella, that is. “The one person who called was Anthony,” said Ury. In return, Minchella was given the task of chairing the newly reinstituted panel. For now, it will operate as a committee — not a section — of the association. CBA members won’t have to pay additional dues to belong to the group. Ury said he wants to gauge the legal community’s interest in the committee before bestowing it with section status. Its re-establishment, however, is important, he said, because it will give CBA leaders a resource to run by ideas and initiatives concerning solos and small firms. Interest in the old section petered away, Ury said, probably because members felt it wasn’t offering enough worthwhile programs. Peter Costas, of Pepe & Hazard’s Hartford, Conn., office, chaired a task force on solos and small firms for the CBA in the early 1990s. Its work led to the section’s creation in 1998. “People for some reason or another felt it wasn’t relevant” to the current issues facing solo practitioners and small firms, he said. Minchella doesn’t plan to let that happen again. “I don’t want to help small firms compete with Day, Berry & Howard, but to help them develop skill sets or provide resources so they can work alongside the big firms,” said Minchella, who counts three Fortune 50 companies among his commercial litigation clients. Minchella left Zeldes, Needle & Cooper in Bridgeport, Conn., in July 2003 to form his own practice. He said his experience practicing at that and other larger firms, as well as working as a law firm administrator in New Jersey before going to law school, will be put to good use as the committee’s chairman. For small firms to continue to thrive in the future, they need to target smaller businesses that can’t afford larger, higher-priced law firms. “We have to be able to compete and let [clients] know we can provide high-tech representation,” he said. Thomas E. Farver, of Farver & Heffernan in Hamden, Conn., didn’t even know the solo and small firm committee had gone dormant. Like many other small firm lawyers, Farver said he belongs to the CBA to have access to the seminars and Internet services it provides. He’d like to see more seminars on law firm staffing and other management issues faced by lawyers who run their own legal shops. The new committee, he said, “certainly could have a tremendous upside depending on how many resources [the CBA is] able to put into it.”

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