The third quarter of 2018 was marked by the continued efforts of our attorneys and staff to connect with community organizations and showcase our firm’s proud commitment to our diversity and inclusion ideals. The following is a summary of our third quarter D&I activities:
External Organizational Involvement
Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity (LCD)
On July 23, Pullman & Comley attorneys Mike Marafito and Jess Kennedy Grossarth gave a presentation to the LCD college interns on resume writing at our Hartford office. Diane Whitney and Kristen Perkins also attended and offered their thoughts to the interns on the topic.
Mark Sommaruga and Bob Hinton are serving as law school mentors through LCD’s mentorship program. Bob provided guidance to his mentee in the third quarter related to preparing for and completing a summer associate position.
Jessica Kennedy Grossarth is a member of LCD’s Board. On September 12, Jess participated in the first LCD Board meeting for the 2018/2019 year where strategic planning, budget issues and events for the year were discussed. Jess was also asked and agreed to be a member of LCD’s strategic planning subcommittee, which held its first meeting on September 5. There will be four additional meetings this fall. The goal of the subcommittee is to outline a Strategic Operating/Action Plan for LCD for the upcoming 3-5 years.
Connecticut Bar Association (CBA) Diversity and Inclusion Committee
The CBA’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee will hold its Third Annual Diversity and Inclusion Summit on October 24, 2018 at Quinnipiac School of Law. Jessica Kennedy Grossarth is on the planning subcommittee for the event.
On September 24, Bob Hinton attended a Diversity & Inclusion Committee meeting at the CBA headquarters that addressed a number of topics including the Committee’s efforts in proposing a mandatory component of MCLE focused on D&I.
The planning for the Connecticut Cares 2018 event began in the third quarter. Both John Stafstrom and Erick Russell are on the Leadership Team for the event. The event will include a brunch, cocktails, a premier silent auction, and a runway fashion show at Mitchell’s of Westport on November 4, 2018.
Black Attorney Resource (BAR)
On June 28th, Bob Hinton attended a BAR reception honoring Chief Justice Robinson in Stratford. BAR is a professional organization of African-American attorneys primarily located in Fairfield County.
Jill Bicks continued her work and leadership in the third quarter in connection with the Connect-Us Academy Bridgeport High School intern program. The Pullman intern, a rising senior at Bassick High School, spent six weeks working at Pullman & Comley and was involved in a number of activities ranging from observing court proceedings, creating pleading files, and building our marketing lists to packing and moving with the rest of the Bridgeport office.
CT Bar Foundation (“CBF”)
Judge Anne Dranginis was a panelist for the CBF’s Diversity & Inclusion Symposium at UConn Law School on September 7. The panelists discussed the barriers facing law students with disabilities when they take the bar examination and seek admission to the legal profession, the historical and current perspectives of the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee in assessing applicants with disabilities, and the challenges facing lawyers with disabilities as they transition into practice. Bob Hinton attended the event.
National Conference of Bar Presidents D&I Committee
Monte Frank was re-appointed to the National Conference of Bar Presidents Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
This past summer, two University of Connecticut Law School students came to work for Pullman & Comley as summer associates. One student returned to Pullman after completing Pullman & Comley’s and Yale New Haven Health System’s (“YNHH”) joint 1L Diversity Summer Associate Program last summer. The other student completed the P&C/YNHH program this summer during which time she spent the first five weeks of the summer working at P&C before spending the next five weeks of the summer working in the legal department of YNHH. Both students will be joining us again, the first as a full time first year associate in September 2019, and the other accepted our offer to return as a 2L in the summer of 2019.
Related to the summer associate program, Bob Hinton: i) coordinated and attended a joint reception with P&C and YNHH which was held at the Quinnipiac Club on July 12 recognizing the summer associates/interns; and ii) coordinated and attended a group volunteer event at Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen on July 24th with both P&C and YNHH folks. Kelly O’Donnell, Erick Russell, Lee Hoffman and Amy Murray also attended the Q Club reception.
The 6th annual “Celebrating Diversity in the Greater Bridgeport Business Community” event is in full-swing. The event will be held on November 1st in the Bridgeport People’s Bank lobby and, as in past years, will seek to showcase women-owned and minority-owned businesses in the Greater-Bridgeport area. The event is co-hosted with People’s Bank and supporting sponsors include the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council, the Hispanic Chamber of Greater Bridgeport, the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, the City of Bridgeport – Small & Minority Business Resource Office, Southern Connecticut Black Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Bridgeport Latino Network. Along with folks from People’s Bank, Kelly O’Donnell, Sally Laroche and Gina Palermo have been busy planning the details of the event.
Sponsorships and Support
South Asian Bar Association of Connecticut
On September 20th, Bob Hinton, Mark Sommaruga, Mike Kurs, Mike McKeon, Mike Marafito, Jon Kukucka, Joanna Katz, Campbell Barrett and Judge Holzberg attended the South Asian Bar Association of Connecticut’s annual dinner, where Gurbir Grewal was honored. Mr. Grewal is the first South Asian to hold the position of New Jersey Attorney General, and he is the first Sikh-American to hold the position of Attorney General in the United States. P&C was a Gold sponsor of the event.
On July 19th, Mike Kurs attended an Affinity Bar Mixer/LCD event at Day Pitney in Hartford which was sponsored by the Connecticut Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association, the Crawford Black Bar Association, the South Asian Bar Association of Connecticut and LCD.
Former Chief Justice Chase Rogers and Judge Holzberg co-chaired the CT Lawyers for Immigration Justice fundraising initiative that seeks to fulfill the promise of equal justice for immigrant families in the State. The effort has raised approximately $100,000 to date which will be used for expert witness expenses, translators and other litigation related expenses. Both the former Chief Justice and Judge Holzberg will be honored by the Hispanic Bar Association and CT Legal Services at their annual meetings.
On September 12th , Zach Schurin attended a Corporator’s meeting of the Open Hearth, which is a Hartford-based charity dedicated to helping homeless men enhance their capacity for self-help, self-respect and dignity, and to achieve their full potential as responsible citizens of Greater Hartford and Connecticut. Zach became a Corporator of the Open Hearth this year.