A well-known Connecticut litigator is closing the Hartford firm she started in 1999 to join Rome McGuigan, where she will establish a practice group that focuses on health care, special needs and elder law.

Mary Alice Moore Leonhardt, who is also known for her counseling efforts on behalf of lawyers, judges and paralegals struggling with alcoholism, said her decision to accept an offer to join Rome McGuigan as a principal is “kind of a homecoming,” because she worked with many of its 30 lawyers at the start of her career.

Leonhardt is already working with her new partners on some employment law cases and litigation that originated with her firm, and is actively winding down her two-lawyer practice. An associate who has been employed by her firm, Daniel Csuka, is making the move with Leonhardt, along with a group of paralegals and secretaries. “My whole team is going,” Leonhardt said.

About 22 years ago, Leonhardt worked as an associate with Hoberman & Pollack. When she left with Elliot Pollack and a team of attorneys to open up a Hartford office for Pullman & Comley, the remaining lawyers changed the firm name to Rome McGuigan.

Even after Leonhardt went out on her own, she continued to refer cases to Rome McGuigan as needed or share cases with the larger firm as cocounsel. Most recently, the two firms began working together on a federal lawsuit Leonhardt filed on behalf of 14 Connecticut taxi and livery companies against ride-share businesses Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc.

The two companies use online platforms to connect passengers who need rides with drivers who use personal, noncommercial vehicles, which raise consumer protection and insurance liability concerns.

Reducing Referrals

For some time, Leonhardt said, she was looking for a larger firm to join that would allow her to refer less cases and provide more thorough client representation than she was able to provide on her own.

She started talking with Rome McGuigan, which has offices in Hartford and Stamford, about a merger several months ago. “Rome McGuigan was looking to expand their services to include health-care law, and I was looking for a full-service firm where I could establish my practice,” she said.

Leonhardt said she was increasingly finding herself having to refer cases, such as criminal law, complex business litigation and intellectual property matters. “I don’t have to do that now, because Rome McGuigan has those areas amply covered,” she said.

While Rome McGuigan has handled business and regulatory defense matters for health-care providers—doctors, dentists and mental health professionals—Leonhardt said she brings “a significant expansion” of work in those areas.

In her practice, Leonhardt said she represents all types of licensed health-care providers in “all aspects of their professional practice,” including Department of Public Health licensing proceedings and federal and state billing audits.

“I provide general practice legal advice for these types of clients,” she said.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mary Alice into the Rome McGuigan family,” Austin McGuigan, founding member and chief executive of Rome McGuigan, said. “Her health care and administrative law background plus her extensive trial experience will be a significant addition to us, ensuring our clients have the best legal representation available.”

Leonhardt has also built a name for herself over the years assisting lawyers and others dealing with alcohol abuse. She started out offering counseling on an informal basis, and is now president and CEO of RecoverWell LLC, an organization that offers professional assistance to individuals addicted to drugs and alcohol, as well as those with mental illness.

“I’m passionate about that, and I will continue to devote as much of my spare time to assist and support all members of the legal and health professions, along with the general public, to gain and maintain sobriety and a healthy lifestyle,” she said.

Leonhardt enjoyed running her own law firm, but said she is excited about a new chapter, and a chance to work with her “friends” she met and worked with early in her career.

“When I established my own firm, it was the best model for me, when I had a young family and needed extreme flexibility to be the working mother with a litigation practice,” she said. “It worked out very well. Now my children are in college, and I’m really thrilled to be reentering a large firm setting.”