It’s not unusual to see two people who have studied law chatting in Washington, D.C. In fact, that occurrence could happen on any street corner in the nation’s capital.
What is unusual is to see a New Britain attorney talking with Andrzej Duda, who just happens to be the president of Poland.
But Adrian Baron, a partner with Podorowsky Thompson & Baron, a small law firm in the heart of New Britain’s Little Poland neighborhood, had his chance to do just that: engage in what turned out to be an eight-minute, one-on-one conversation with Duda.
Baron ran for political office in New Britain and is active in the community, primarily through his role as president of Polonia Business Association. But the last call he thought he’d get was one from U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy’s office asking him to attend a reception for Duda and Poland’s first lady Agata Kornhauser Duda. The reception was held in Washington, D.C., at the official residence of Piotr Wilczek, the Polish ambassador to the United States. That reception on Sept. 18 was supposed to have lasted about two hours, but Duda, Baron said, was very engaging and spent time with each of the approximate 150 people who attended. The reception lasted for about four hours.
Baron first listened as Duda spoke of his visit earlier in the day with President Donald Trump. Duda, who speaks fluent English, spoke for about 30 minutes in both languages on how the meeting with the two presidents went and what they discussed. The conversation with Trump touched on several topics, including Poland’s hope that the U.S. would have a permanent military base established in the country.
Baron, who took selfies with the president and gave the first lady several photographs of Little Poland, also spoke with the first lady for about eight minutes.
Baron said he knew right away what the icebreaker would be with his time with the president: talk about Poland’s prestigious Jagiellonian University. That is where the 44-year-old Baron studied law abroad in 2003. It is also the same university that Duda studied law,
“He got a kick out of the fact that I met my wife Aldona in Krakow taking classes,” Baron said, adding, “She was a Polish law student and I was an American law student.”
Baron, whose parents were both born in Poland, said the president “was very happy to see so many vibrant Polish communities where people are still holding on to Polish traditions,” Baron said Duda offered to visit Little Poland and, he said, he believes that will happen one day. There are about 20,000 Polish-Americans living in New Britain, out of a population of about 75,000 people. New Britain is home to the largest Polish-American community in New England.
Baron said he also talked the law.
“I told him how we use our law firm in helping many of the Polish residents in the area,” he said. “We hold monthly seminars and do real estate closings in Polish. I told him that we also do a lot of criminal defense and personal injury work and discussed the pro bono aspect of the business. We help a lot of local businesses with permit hearings in front of various city boards and agencies.”
Baron gave the first lady of Poland various photos of Little Poland, including a “Welcome to Little Poland” sign and one of the red and white parking lanes, the colors of the Polish flag. “She enjoyed the gifts and said she was happy there were people in that community who were working to make it a better community.”
One thing that Baron stayed far away from during his talk with the president, whose party is right of center, was politics. “We stayed, for the most part, on the topic of law and the people in Little Poland,” said Baron, who noted, for this occasion, it was best to not discuss politics.