Brian Altieri

 Altieri is an associate with Balzano & Tropiano, where he represents clients primarily in civil and criminal litigation. He also has a focus in personal injury, workers compensation, and criminal defense cases.

According to his colleagues, he has helped solidify a “generous” client base in four years, and they attributed the firm’s substantial growth, in part, to the caseflow generated by his ability to deliver favorable results. Altieri also mentors interns and new associates.

Altieri is actively involved in the Connecticut Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section, where he has held numerous leadership roles, coordinated multiple continuing legal education programs, and volunteers his time to participate in various charity initiatives.

His recent successes include acting as lead trial counsel in a personal injury case that resulted in a $407,000 verdict, and in another personal injury case which resulted in a $255,600 arbitration award.

Altieri has handled pro bono cases in the areas of motor vehicle, landlord/tenant, criminal defense, workers’ compensation and unemployment matters. He acted as coordinator for SaveASuit’s New Haven dropoff location, which collected over 50 suits for college graduates and veterans. He has volunteered to help homeless men with legal issues, job resumes and ­applications. He volunteers annually at a soup kitchen and helps raise money for Relay for Life.

Jay Arcata

Arcata is a partner at Halloran & Sage, where his practice focuses on complex civil litigation, particularly in commercial litigation, insurance coverage and professional liability. According to his colleagues, he is a “well-respected and trusted counsel” to numerous multi-billion dollar companies, as well as smaller businesses. He handles cases involving breach of contract, bad faith, unfair trade practices and other business torts. He also represents insurance companies in complex coverage actions involving construction defects, environmental torts and other commercial disputes. Arcata is active in the community, and currently serves as vice chairman of the Board of Directors of Hartford’s Camp Courant, the oldest and largest free summer day camp in the country. He also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board at Quinnipiac University School of Law and is vice president of the Providence College Hartford Alumni Chapter. Arcata recently successfully negotiated a favorable settlement as lead trial counsel in a multi-million dollar commercial dispute.

Arcata is actively involved in pro bono legal projects. One of his cases included assisting two local Bosnian immigrants to attain full United States citizenship. Another was his representation of an undocumented citizen in divorce and custody proceedings. Arcata has helped Hartford’s Camp Courant with numerous legal matters, including advising the Board on construction, employment and contract law issues.

Jane Ballerini

Ballerini is an associate with Neubert, Pepe & Monteith. She has risen to officer positions in the real property and commercial finance sections. According to her colleagues, her legal ability has merited her assuming responsibility for transactions that would typically be handled by a much more seasoned attorney, and she “is not satisfied just to get involved but to lead.” Ballerini has organized and participated in both legal and extra-legal pro bono and community ­activities.

Ballerini represented a lender on a microloan to the SBA Award Winner for Home-Based Small Business Owner of the Year, a certified orthotist who makes prosthetics and specialized walkers to improve the mobility of children afflicted with physical disabilities, and she worked on a development loan for a $33 million shopping center.

Examples of her pro bono work include representing a local Pentecostal church on obtaining neighboring property in order to set up a half-way home for local residents and assisting a local partnership with donating real estate to the Hamden Land Conservation Trust.

Matthew Brown

Brown is an associate at Wiggin and Dana, and he co-chairs the firm’s Manufacturing Industry Practice Group. His practice includes resolution of supplier disputes through mediation, arbitration and, where necessary, trial. He has represented manufacturing clients in the aerospace, industrial, maritime, heavy chemicals, pharmaceutical, and agricultural industries. He regularly counsels clients on real estate disputes, including representation of title company insureds, companies, private homeowners, and public housing projects. He has significant experience in probate matters representing ­nursing homes and private individuals in conservator claims, will contests, and capacity and fiduciary related disputes. He is also a special public defender. His colleague, in a nomination letter, describes him as a “go-to litigator in complex disputes,” who is “indefatigable on behalf of his clients’ causes.” Brown’s recent successes include securing injunction in favor of client under a $6.8 million asset purchase agreement. He also was the lead negotiator in a multi-million dollar supplier dispute which resulted in a substantial settlement in his client’s favor during mediation..

Claire Coleman

Coleman is an associate with Wiggin and Dana, where she handles white collar defense cases, government investigations and corporate compliance, government contracts and compliance, and international trade compliance. At Wiggin and Dana, she has worked as an international trade compliance attorney for United Technologies. Her work includes investigating potential violations of the ITAR and EAR, submitting voluntary and directed disclosures to government regulators when warranted, and developing improvements in the ­international trade compliance program. Coleman has been active in public service and community affairs. She serves as an elected member of the Board of ­Assessment Appeals for the Town of Woodbridge, and previously served on the Board of Ethics. During the past two years she devoted a significant number of hours to representing a defendant in a federal criminal case under the Criminal Justice Act.

John Dimanno

DiManno is an assistant attorney general with the Office of Attorney General, and his practice areas include special litigation/constitutional law and education law.

He was part of the team which represented the state in the landmark case of the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell, a key case for Connecticut dealing with education funding. According to his colleague who nominated him, DiManno has, “worked tirelessly with our entire team to ensure that the state taxpayers received the defense that they deserved.”

DiManno also does volunteer work, serving as a mentor for Nutmeg Big Brothers/Big Sisters and True Colors Inc.

David Dobin

Dobin is an associate at Cohen and Wolf, where he handles litigation. Dobin brought an action on behalf of inmates against the State of Connecticut, on a pro bono basis, seeking to achieve recognition of their religious beliefs. Dobin served as lead counsel for the inmates in all aspects of the case including taking and defending depositions, document discovery and settlement negotiations. He achieved a settlement in which the state agreed to accommodate the inmates’ beliefs and to remove their religion from a list of disruptive groups, according to his nomination. He also has demonstrated leadership in the community. He is an active Board member of Ezra Academy, a private school in Woodbridge, serving on its finance committee. He serves on the civil rights committee of the Connecticut Anti-Defamation League.

Dobin has played a significant role in managing the firm’s eDiscovery and records management programs, and he has been a mentor to younger associates who have joined the firm.

Tara Dugo

Dugo is an associate at Roberts Family Law, where she handles a variety of family matters. Among her recent cases involved handling the case of a high net worth family law client with a marital estate valued at more than $100 million. Dugo handled all aspects of the dissolution of marriage, including conducting discovery, issuing over 70 subpoenas, and drafting a complex financial affidavit where the client had an interest in over 70 separate entities.

Dugo also dedicates a large portion of her time to help the community. From 2013 to June, 2016, she was a co-chair of the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice committee of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section Executive Committee.

Dugo has volunteered her time to assist self-represented individuals in family matters through the Stamford Superior Court’s “Volunteer Attorney Program” since 2014. Her pro bono work has included assisting a young unmarried father in the crafting of a parenting plan. For the past two years, she has worked with the Lawyers in the Classroom program, where attorneys conduct a basic civics class with elementary school children at various schools throughout Connecticut.

Marcia Escobedo

Escobedo is an associate at Cohen and Wolf, where she handles litigation, employment and labor, and family law. According to her nomination, Escobedo is “tough and thorough” and “exercises excellent judgment in all areas of her practice.”

Escobedo handled a case in which a client was seeking termination of support, and a memorandum of decision included an order terminating alimony. The order was appealed, but the appeal was dismissed in August. Escobedo has done annual pro bono work, specifically focused on post-judgment custody disputes and visitation schedules. She is also active in the community. Since 2011, she has been a member of the New Haven Juvenile Review Board. Since 2008, she has been a mentor for the Hartford Youth Scholars.

Vincent Farisello

Farisello is a partner with the firm, where he focuses on labor and employment, and corporate and business matters. Farisello successfully represented a regional symphony orchestra in an objection to a petition filed by a labor union to represent orchestra musicians. He obtained dismissal of the petition on the grounds that musicians were properly classified as independent contractors and therefore not covered by the State Labor Relations Act.

According to his nomination, he has been recognized for his expertise on the topic of employer use of criminal history and background checks in employment, and he has been invited to speak to various groups of lawyers and labor professionals on this topic.

Farisello had also done pro bono work, such as negotiating and documenting lease agreements for a soup kitchen, food pantry and resource center. He also represented a non-profit charter school in obtaining financing, on a pro bono basis. He has served as a committee member for organizations such as the United Way of Greater Waterbury.

Kelly Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick is a partner at Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith, where she handles complex litigation and mass torts. Fitzpatrick leads the complex litigation department at the firm. In this capacity, she investigates and prosecutes cases nationwide on behalf of individuals who have been harmed by defective pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices.

According to her nomination, working for the rights of consumers is “important and rewarding” to Fitzpatrick, because she “truly believes that it encourages and enforces social responsibility.” She has been involved in products liability litigation involving a number of products, such as Zoloft, Viagra and Xarelto. As for public service, she has participated on teams to raise awareness about cancer and cystic fibrosis. 

Christine Gertsch

Gertsch is an associate at the Law Offices of Mark Sherman, where she handles criminal defense and civil litigation. Gertsch recently second-chaired a negligent homicide with a motor vehicle trial which resulted in a hung jury, and the court ultimately dismissed the charge. She also second-chaired a $1.3 million verdict in her client’s favor in 2015, in a dispute which arose from a real estate development project. Since early 2015, Gertsch has logged 300 hours assisting indigent clients as part of the firm’s pro bono criminal practice.

Gertsch was selected to be co-chair of the Connecticut Bar Association Young Lawyer’s Section Criminal Justice Committee for 2015 to 2016.

According to her nomination, Gertsch “loves being a lawyer” and “anyone who works with her, against her, or around her can immediately feel her energy and genuine passion for criminal law, as well as our firm’s practice areas and people.”

Cody Guarnieri

Guarnieri practices criminal law. In criminal defense matters he represents adults and juveniles accused of crimes in federal and state courts, including domestic violence crimes, DUI, possession and sale of controlled substances, breach of peace and threatening, manslaughter and violent crimes, sexual assaults, larcenies and embezzlement as well as infractions.

He is actively involved in community service, vocational and political activities. He is the immediate past-president of the Hartford Rotary Club, he has managed political campaigns and sits on the Executive Board of the South Windsor Democratic Town Committee.

“Cody has exhibited superior skills in all phases of his legal practice and is an extremely dedicated and hard-working attorney,” Richard R. Brown, of Brown Paindiris & Scott, said.

Jason Gagnon

Gagnon’s practice has a concentration on products liability, commercial litigation; utility litigation and employment law.

He provides service to the clients on a wide range of issues, including defending products liability and utility actions and prosecuting and defending commercial matters. He also counsels clients as they take proactive steps to protect themselves and works with clients to ensure they have instituted proper procedures and that they follow these procedures. Gagnon was a leader in the development and implementation of a program of best practices/risk assessment for preventing and managing products liability claims for a client. His work on the best practices/risk assessment program is highly regarded by the client.

The program itself is being adopted by many of this client’s sister companies.

Joseph Grippe

Grippe’s practice has a focus on civil litigation, insurance defense, plaintiffs personal injury and medical malpractice. Major clients include Arbella Insurance, Covenant Insurance, Liberty Mutual and Safeco.

On the defense side, in the past year he received defense verdicts in three of the four defense cases he tried. On the plaintiffs side, Grippe has successfully tried cases as well as settling numerous cases, including a seven-figure case and multiple six-figure cases.

He has also recently been appointed to the Board of Directors of Abilities without 3sists individuals with developmental disabilities to lead a more productive and fulfilling life.•

Alexandra Harrington

In less than two years with the division, Harrington has developed and overseen the implementation of the division’s response to the Miller and Graham decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the State v. Riley and Casiano v. Commissioner decisions of the Connecticut Supreme Court. Prior to joining the division, she worked with the Lowenstein Clinic at Yale Law School and the Civil Justice Clinic of Quinnipiac University School of Law to advocate for legislative reform in Connecticut to address the changes brought about by these cases. She provided written and verbal testimony before the Judiciary Committee of the General Assembly in favor of the proposed changes. PA 15-84, incorporating that language, became effective in June 2015.

Felicia Hunt

Hunt focuses her practice on family law matters. She tackles the firm’s most complex cases, including those involving international child custody and kidnapping issues in non-Hague compliant counties. Before joining Freed Marcroft, she was responsible for drafting successful appeals resulting in significant changes to Connecticut marital and family law jurisprudence.

“She is a consummate professional and conducts herself according to the maxim that a divorce case is not a battle to be won, but instead a problem to be solved,” Campbell D. Barrett, of Pullman & Comley, said.

Christine Jean-Louis

Jean-Louis is an assistant attorney general in the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General’s Transportation Department. Before joining the OAG, Jean-Louis was an associate in Wiggin and Dana’s litigation department where she focused her practice on contract disputes, franchise, antitrust and commercial litigation. She is a member of the OAG’s work culture committee and was a member of Wiggin and Dana’s diversity committee.

“Christine Jean-Louis embodies qualities that make a good leader; conviction, loyalty, passion, inclusivity, honesty, integrity, dedication and compassion. She brings all of these skills to her leadership style, but she does not stop there. Christine is constantly challenging herself to continue to grow as a leader,” Karen L. DeMeola, assistant dean of enrollment of students, University of Connecticut, said.

Uswah Khan

Khan practices family law. She is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association’s executive committee of the family law section. She continues to volunteer her time to assist self-represented individuals in family matters through the Stamford Superior Court’s “Volunteer Attorney Program” since its inception as a pilot program in 2013. From 2015 to the present, she was a co-chair of the Women and the Law committee for the Fairfield County Bar Association.

“She is an incredibly talented lawyer with a keen understanding of the law and what it means to practice law in Connecticut. She continues to get successful results for her clients, while maintaining her professionalism. This has made her highly respected by both the bench and the bar,” Tara C. Dugo, of Roberts Family Law, said. 

Jeffrey Matrullo

Matrullo concentrates his practice on real estate law. His practice includes real estate commercial leasing, sales and disposition and financing ­services.

He serves in leadership roles within the real estate industry in his community. He is a member of the International Council of Shopping Center’s next generation planning committee and is an elected member of the Board of ­Education Cromwell.

He has logged over 76 hours of pro bono work in 2015 representing an Iraqi war veteran seeking disability benefits, a nonprofit organization in a property tax appeal and low-income tenants in matters related to the return of their security deposits.•

Virginia McGarrity

McGarrity has a legal practice that offers clients a wide range of employee benefits and executive compensation services. She is a recognized authority with respect to Affordable Care Act (ACA), whose advice is sought after by employers and employee benefits professionals. A frequent speaker to industry groups, she shares her expertise about some of the nation’s largest insurance brokerage and consulting firms and regularly partners with Connecticut-based health insurers with respect to the implications of the ACA.

She is a member of the firm’s diversity committee, a member of the data privacy and security team, a summer associate coordinator and she has served as a mentor to summer and junior associates.•

Ryan McKeen

McKeen is the owner and founder of McKeen Law Firm. He has been in practice for 10 years. He runs a litigation practice with a primary focus on personal injury. Among McKeen’s achievements are his contributions to the community. For the last several years, he has sponsored and helped run the Glastonbury River Runners “Race to Fill the Pantry 5K,”whose proceeds benefit the Glastonbury Food Pantry and health and wellness programs at the CREC Glastonbury East Hartford Magnet School.

“I had the pleasure of trying a case to verdict with (McKeen) as co-counsel last December. I found him to be a well-prepared, compassionate advocate for our injured client. His efforts no doubt led to the favorable verdict w received,” Andrew P. Garza, of the Law Offices of Andrew P. Garza, said.•

David McGrath

McGrath is a senior associate and has been one of the top leaders in the Connecticut Bar Association over the past several years and has served for more than six years on the executive committee of the Connecticut Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, currently serving as the secretary of the organization.

He also has served on the executive committee of the CBA Family Law Section for the past five years.

At his firm, McGrath focuses his practice on divorce and custody litigation and has secured many favorable settlements and judicial decisions for his clients.

McGrath also devotes his time to representing indigent litigants in pro bono divorce and custody matters.•

Megan McGrath

McGrath is an associate and focuses her practice on family law, with an emphasis on custody and guardianship cases. In one recent, highly contentious case, McGrath successfully represented a mother seeking joint legal custody of a minor child with final decision-making authority. The mother was also awarded legal fees. She also recently obtained a favorable result for two parents who were seeking guardianship of their autistic son when he reached the age of majority.

McGrath has also represented clients in a pro bono capacity, both independently and through referrals from the CT Pro Bono Network, in all aspects of family law, including dissolution of marriage, restraining orders, custody applications and child support matters.

In addition, she is a member of the New Haven Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division and the Connecticut Bar Association.•

Andrea Donovan Napp

Napp started practicing law in 2004 and, as a junior associate, immersed herself in the emerging field of e-discovery, eventually becoming known as Robinson Cole’s resident expert on the topic. In 2010, while still an associate, Napp created the firm’s e-discovery and Information Governance team, which she chairs.

Napp became a partner in 2015. In addition to her practice, Napp is a member of the firm’s hiring committee, women’s committee and professional development committee.

She has also chaired Robinson Cole’s annual United Way campaign for the past two years and frequently volunteers her time to mentor law students at the University of Connecticut and Quinnipiac Law School.•

Bryan Orticelli

Orticelli is an associate who focuses his practice on complex commercial litigation. He has successfully litigated multimillion dollar disputes on behalf of Fortune 500 clients like Moody’s, Sikorsky and Wells Fargo.

He also serves as a mentor and instructor in Day Pitney’ s training programs for new attorneys.

Outside the office, Orticelli serves as secretary of the Oliver Ellsworth Inn of Court and involvement in the CBA’s Young Lawyers Section, where (at the request of peers) he has presented CLE programs including “Short Calendar 101.”

He also engages in regular pro bono work and service to civic organizations, including the ACLU.•

James Regan

Regan is a partner and focuses his practice on complex civil and commercial litigation, construction litigation, products liability, patent enforcement and white-collar criminal defense. His clients include construction, manufacturing, medical device manufacturing and sales, equipment sales, real estate development, banking, finance, and publishing companies.

His commercial litigation experience involves intellectual property, including patent disputes and enforcement, unfair trade practices, theft of trade secrets, information technology and other computer-related offenses. In his white-collar criminal defense practice, he most recently represented an unindicted co-conspirator at the investigative stage, including before the grand jury, as well as the post-litigation stages in a matter involving federal campaign finance fraud.•

Lisa Rivas

Rivas is an associate with Cramer & Anderson who focuses her practice in the area of immigration law, helping clients navigate the various complexities of immigration law, including removal proceedings, asylum interviews, family petitions, employment petitions, National Visa Center processing and consular processing. Described as a skillful attorney, Rivas also works on several litigation matters and other practice areas within the firm.

In addition, Rivas takes a lead role on the firm’s marketing committee, where she works with a select group of attorneys to help devise strategies to build the firm’s brand.

What sets Rivas apart, according to her colleagues, is her “passionate volunteer work,” which she takes on “unsparingly” when many other associates would be focused on “jockeying for a partnership.”

Pro Bono And Civic Work: Rivas volunteers at the Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury, teaching a citizenship course that’s become so popular that it’s grown from being offered once a year to now four times a year. She also gives talks on immigration issues, such as benefits and drivers’ license, sticking around to answer questions of attendees. “Tiny details can make or break a case,” Rivas has told the Law Tribune. For all her work, the Hispanic Center recognized Rivas with its Above and Beyond Award at its Citizens Recognition Breakfast in June.•

Erick Russell

Working in Pullman & Comley’s Government Finance department, Russell has worked on complicated bond deals and matters for the Connecticut Health and Education Facilities Authority to foster growth at Connecticut’s hospital and colleges, as well as bond matters for municipalities such as Bridgeport, Norwalk, Norwich and Milford to provide infrastructure and growth.

The first person in his extended family to graduate from a four-year college and law school. Russell was drawn to public finance work, according to those who nominated him, because of his interest in public policy and his desire to help advance public infrastructure and the public-private partnerships needed to grow the state’s economy and improve its urban centers. He is also a member of the firm’s diversity committee and its associate recruiting committee.

Service To The Bar: Russell helped found the Connecticut Bar Association’s first LGBT section and serves as its current vice president. He serves as co-chair of the annual Lambda Legal “Connecticut Cares” event, which raised $400,000 last year to support Lambda’s work to assure equality for the LGBT community. Russell is also very active in the Crawford Black Bar Association and the Lawyer’s Collaborative for Diversity. He volunteers on a monthly basis for the “Because You Matter,” program, speaking to New ­Haven public school students.•

Evan Seeman

Seeman’s practice is focused on land use, environmental and municipal law, with a special emphasis on the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. According to those who nominated him, local governments nationwide have sought Robinson Cole’s counsel in this area of the law, and Seeman has been “at the center of virtually all the firm’s RLUIPA’s representations.” In addition to frequently authoring articles and speaking on the topic, Seeman is a frequent contributor to the firm’s blog on the topic. He’s successfully represented numerous entities in these types of cases, such as one village in New York that was being sued by a Roman Catholic diocese over the village’s decision to develop 90 acres as a cemetery.

Seeman is an active leader at the firm, serving on both the diversity committee and the women’s committee, and he has also served as the firm’s summer associate program coordinator.

Pro Bono/Public Service: Seeman is very active in pro bono and public service, volunteering his time at a number of organizations. In one signature pro bono case, Seeman represented a Catholic organization seeking to operate a soup kitchen after a town denied its zoning applications were denied. After three years of litigation – including three lawsuits – as well as a trip to the Court of Appeals to the Second Circuit, Seeman negotiated a favorable settlement with the town for his clients and the soup kitchen was allowed to remain open. •

Lisa Staron

Staron concentrates her practice on trust & estates — she is a very active speaker and panelist on the topic — as well as family law and civil litigation. She’s been described as someone becoming quickly recognized as a leading attorney in estate planning and probate-related disputes. She was cited by those nominating her for her “very pragmatic approach” to both planning and the difficult and thorny disagreements families find themselves in when those issues wind up in probate court. Staron guides her clients through the process and key decision making, recognizing that each step is not only a procedural marker, “but a personal story” that not only needs to be documented and resolved, but also handled with the appropriate care. She demonstrates innovative problem-solving as well as strong conflict-resolution skills.

Pro Bono/Public Service: Staron is a frequent participant in pro bono activities, exceeding her firm’s time requirements. A significant amount of her work is done in the probate courts, especially in the wake of decreased funding and services available to physically and intellectually disabled individuals. She’s had to handle cases involving petitions for emergency shock therapy treatment, defending and prosecuting voluntary and involuntary conservatorships, as well as resolving visitation disputes with people under legal guardianship. In addition, she also aids and advises veterans’ groups on a variety of matters.•

Spencer Stone

Stone is a senior associate in Murtha Cullina’s business and finance department and is also a member of the firm’s commercial finance and lending, community banking, and real estate groups. He represents clients in commercial financing, business transactions, real estate and general corporate and commercial matters. Stone has brought a number of clients to the firm and manages those relationships, as well several large real estate and financing transactions. He has taken on key responsibility for matters more often handled by partners. Stone was part of the legal team for a group of international banks that resulted in $750 million in financing, as well as M&T Bank’s ­legal team that closed two challenging finance deals.•

Zoe Stout

Stout works in the ­Center for Children’s Advocacy’s child abuse project as a senior staff attorney, carrying a caseload of 25-30 cases, representing children who have been abused or neglected, from toddlers abused by their parents, to teenagers who have been neglected for years and have been bounced from one foster home to another in care of the Department of Children and Families. Most youths lose their access to lawyers at 18, despite still having needs, so Stout spends a lot of time with kids aging out of the system. Her continued advocacy with DCF and other providers gives those older children a chance at stability and success. In one case she successfully advocated for a teen mom who was caught stealing socks. Because she scuffled with security, the teen was facing robbery and assault charges. She was sent to a correctional facility and her child was sent to live with the teen’s mother. Stout advocated for DCF to develop a plan for the teen upon her release from the correctional facility. Because of Stout’s help, the teen has been reunited with her daughter, is attending high school and is working part-time.

In addition, Stout runs a program under a contract with the state of Connecticut to provide training to all attorneys statewide who undertake legal representation of parents or children. She has also been a key person in the center’s Speak UP Project, which aims to give voice to the most powerless children in the state. Stout goes into residential treatment facilities to run advocacy programs for girls in the foster care and juvenile justice systems and arranges for the girls to meet with officials from DCF and help them advocate for changes in their treatment.

Public Service: Stout was responsible for drafting a bill that was passed during the last legislative session that requires DCF to establish youth councils in all group homes and residential treatment facilities. The law also requires DCF to provide family profiles to foster children and solicit feedback to help improve the recruitment, training, and retention of high-quality foster parents.•

Oscar Suarez

Suarez represents national and local banks and lenders in complex litigation in state and federal court. He represents financial institutions in bankruptcy matters, foreclosure and loan recovery, lender liability, landlord-tenant issues, UCC litigation and loan restructuring. According to those who nominated him, Suarez’s “courtroom finesse” and deep knowledge of substantive law have allowed him to help his firm in more complex matters, including insurance coverage disputes, third-party claims, and municipal law. He was lead counsel in a toxic tort which ended in a successful resolution for the defendant, lead counsel in a liquor liability case that ended in a successful resolution and lead counsel in the defense of a municipality which ended in judgment for the client.

He’s experienced in working on residential closings and refinancing, as well as loan-restructuring, and he’s proved versatile enough to help his firm by taking on cases in other areas, such a construction litigation and land use law.

Suarez regularly mentors less experienced associates and was cited for his courtroom demeanor. He’s active in the Connecticut Bar Association, the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association, and the Connecticut Mortgage Bankers Association. He also volunteers his time at the Bethesda Nursery School and as a tutor for youth at a local charter school.•

Brian Tims

Tims focuses his practice on commercial litigation, products liability, employment law and workers’ compensation. His nominators cited his “exceptional judgment and skill as a litigator.” Within hours of joining Halloran & Sage he was assigned a post-trial brief in a case that was viewed as “unwinnable.” After he filed the brief, he predicted victory – and was later proved right when the court handed down its decision. He resolved a high-stakes dispute on behalf of a large grocery store chain, enabling it to open its new store on time. He invalidated a 20-year-old deed restriction that eased the way for his client’s multi-million dollar development project. Tims turned the tables in discovery during a contentious corporate dispute that led to a favorable resolution for his client. He also secured a significant recovery for the estate of dead lawyer from the attorney’s former firm, despite not having a signed document to support the claimed distribution.

In addition, Tims is active in both pro bono work and various bar associations, and he’s the firm’s mentor coordinator for its Westport office.•

Matthew Wax-Krell

Wax-Krell handles business and commercial litigation, as well as bankruptcy and foreclosure law. He carries a caseload of more than 50 different commercial litigation matters. He argues before the Appellate Court, as well as handle motions and tries cases in the Superior Court, as well as bankruptcy court. He was cited by his nominators for his earnest and self-effacing manner, as well as his sense of humor, and for being thoughtful, considerate and self-aware, and demonstrating a “refreshing maturity.”

In addition to advocating for his clients, Wax-Krell is a dedicated volunteer when it comes to making sure the poor and others less fortunate have access to legal representation. He is the president of Greater Hartford Legal Aid, leading an organization that represents those underrepresented populations on legal issues such as housing, employment law, discrimination and immigration issues. He’s also a member of the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee, working to ensure that the admissions standards are fair and sufficient, and that hearings and decisions made by the committee help achieve the goal of making sure attorneys of the highest caliber are working in Connecticut.•

Brain Wheelin

Wheelin handles business litigation, data privacy and security, and e-discovery, among other matters. He represents clients in complex business litigation in state and federal courts in Connecticut and New York. He’s tried cases to verdict and argued appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and state appellate courts. Wheelin obtained summary judgment in favor of a Fortune 500 client in case where the plaintiff claimed the company had a continuing obligation to provide access to its wastewater treatment facilities, fire suppression system and parking lot for the plaintiff’s use of an adjacent commercial property. In another matter he saved a client $1 million in claimed interest by defeating a Second Circuit appeal challenging the denial of prejudgment interest. Wheelin also successfully represented a client in a malpractice case against a major accounting firm, resulting in a multi-million dollar tax liability owed to the state of Connecticut.

Service To The Bar: Wheelin is very active in bar associations as well as other community groups. He serves on the executive committee of the federal practice section of the Connecticut Bar Association, and is co-chair of the civil litigation committee for the Fairfield County Bar Association. He has served on the board of directors and as pro bono counsel to Stamford Dollars for Scholars and the Yerwood Center. Wheelin is also an ambassador for the Make a Wish Foundation of Connecticut.