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A successful career as an associate on the partnership track at Hartford, Conn.-based Shipman & Goodwin wasn’t enough for Jos� Rojas. At a time when the capital region’s Spanish-speaking population is surging, Rojas, a native of Madrid, didn’t see many, if any, law firms looking to capitalize on that segment of the legal market. “There wasn’t an established firm that dedicated itself to the Spanish community,” he said. There is now. Rojas recently left Shipman & Goodwin, where he was a fourth-year associate, to open his own solo practice, the Rojas Law Firm, in Hartford’s Parkville section. “I saw this opportunity and looked around. I’m able to distinguish myself with my background, as well as the fact that I speak Spanish,” he said last week. According to 2000 Census figures, Hartford County has a Hispanic population of 98,968. The city of Hartford, based on 2003 Census numbers, has 49,260 Hispanics within its borders. Overall, according to 2003 Census figures, Connecticut has a Hispanic population of 324,036. Santa Mendoza, president of the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association, said Rojas has the right idea. “There is a great shortage,” she said. “I think it’s a great market. There are not a lot of private practitioners doing commercial work who speak Spanish.” AMBITIOUS LITIGATOR A 1997 graduate of Quinnipiac University School of Law, Rojas has a diverse background. While in the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate Corps, he worked on a federal task force with the U.S. Attorney’s Office at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. After his first year of law school, he also clerked with the Supreme Court of Argentina as it dealt with constitutional issues such as freedom of the press. At Shipman, he was a member of its litigation department and worked on tort defense cases such as the Rhode Island night club fire that killed more than 100 people. Shipman litigation partner Mark K. Ostrowski said Rojas’ personality and talent will serve him well. “Nobody meets Jos� and doesn’t like him, but he’s also a competitor. He’s a guy who can capitalize on that market. I’m excited for him. He’s going to be a tremendous success,” Ostrowski predicted. “Jos� is a fearless, talented ambitious litigator who is going to go far.” Rojas said it would have been impossible for him to stay at Shipman & Goodwin and build a practice focused on Hispanics and their businesses’ litigation needs. “The biggest problem was the rate structure,” he claimed. “I was charging $225 per hour. As a partner, it would have been higher.” “Most people can simply not afford to get Shipman & Goodwin litigators or Day, Berry & Howard litigators,” he added. At his new practice, Rojas said he will be able to work on either a contingency basis or charge a flat fee when appropriate. Rojas’ new firm will focus on criminal defense and civil litigation. “I don’t consider myself a general practitioner,” he said. “I don’t expect to do any transactional work or trusts and estates. I really want to be a specialist in litigation. I bring a lot of trial experience.” Mendoza said Rojas would be wise to consider doing some transactional practice at his new office. “When somebody doesn’t speak English and they need help with their real estate closing, I’m glad to help because they need the help,” she said. Doing that kind of work could also help Rojas grow his practice, which is now relying mostly on word of mouth. “I’m looking for ways to get the word out,” Rojas said. “The best way is to get involved in the community. The fact that I’m targeting my practice this way makes it easier to get the word out. I don’t have that much competition.”

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