The Second Virtual Connecticut Legal Conference Addresses Issues Facing Our Nation and the Legal Profession

Written Friday, June 25, 2021

More than 750 attendees participated in the second virtual Connecticut Legal Conference (CLC) on June 15, 16, and 17. Attendees were able to receive 13.75 CT CLE credits and learn from six national plenary speakers and over 100 local leaders in the law, who discussed current issues facing our nation and legal community. Topics addressed at this year’s CLC included racial inequality; the eviction epidemic; access to justice; democracy and the law; and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Before the conference officially opened, seven vendors held demonstrations of their products and services during the pre-conference demo day to help attorneys enhance their practice of law. The vendors ranged from law practice management software companies to services that can benefit certain practice areas, such as real estate and family law.

Tuesday, June 15

CBA President Amy Lin Meyerson welcomed attendees and highlighted the upcoming plenary sessions as well as available concurrent sessions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: “So You Want to Be a (Microsoft) Team Player?—Best Practices for Conducting Virtual Trials and Hearings” presented by the Family Law Section and “21st Century Litigator: How to Take Depositions, Use Them at Trial, & Get Evidence Admitted in the Age of Remote Depositions & Trials” presented by the Litigation Section. Annual reviews of case law, sessions on law practice management, updates in practice areas, and current issues were also presented by various CBA sections.

Senator Richard Blumenthal welcomed attendees and stressed the importance of the work of the legal community, especially in regard to the rule of law.

Asha Rangappa, a senior lecturer at the Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, addressed democracy and the law with her discussion of the bar association’s role in protecting the threat to democracy due to disinformation during the morning plenary.

Later that morning, the CBA Annual Meeting was held during the lunchtime plenary. Chief Justice Richard A. Robinson opened the meeting by discussing the current events of the Judicial Branch. President Amy Lin Meyerson delivered her farewell address before the 2021-2022 officers were installed: Cecil J. Thomas (president), Daniel J. Horgan (president-elect), Margaret I. Castinado (vice president), Sharad A. Samy (secretary), David M. Moore (treasurer), Cindy M. Cieslak (assistant secretary-treasurer), and Amy Lin Meyerson (immediate past president). Incoming CBA President Cecil J. Thomas then presented his vision for the 2021-2022 bar year.

The evening plenary explored the topic of racial inequality in our state and nation at the summative event of the first year of the Constance Baker Motley Speaker Series on Racial Inequality. Chief Justice Richard A. Robinson discussed racial segregation with Richard Rothstein, the author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. After, a panel, featuring Connecticut leaders in police accountability, housing desegregation, and political access, highlighted what has been done in the past year and how we will continue to address racial inequality in Connecticut.

Wednesday, June 16

Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz and Attorney General William Tong provided remarks before beginning the day’s programming.

During the Wednesday morning plenary, Rebecca L. Sandefur, a faculty fellow at the American Bar Foundation and founder of the Access to Justice Research Initiative, discussed how jurisdictions around the Rebecca L. Sandefur country are permitting nonlawyers to own or profit from the sale of legal services and permitting nonlawyer humans and computer programs to practice law to expand access to justice. Following her presentation, in an afternoon concurrent session, CBA President-elect Cecil J. Thomas, Lorraine Carcova, Jennifer Quaye-Hudson, Alexis H. Smith, Natalie S. Wagner, and Ryan Wilson assessed and addressed Connecticut’s access to justice gap in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and discussed ways to best advance the promise of equal justice for all.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, founder and principal investigator of Princeton’s Eviction Lab, and CLC Keynote Plenary Speaker Matthew Desmond examined the eviction epidemic during the lunchtime plenary.

Dr. Arin N. Reeves, an inclusion and leadership strategies business advisor, explored how inclusion needs to continue to play a role during these challenging times and incorporate new research that reflects the new realities of the workplace during and post COVID-19 during the day’s evening plenary.

Thursday, June 17

The final day of the conference opened with remarks from Chief United States District Judge for the District of Connecticut, Stefan R. Underhill and Probate Court Administrator Judge Beverly Streit-Kefalas, who discussed the court’s response to the pandemic over the past year.

The CBA’s Lawyer Well-Being Committee’s morning plenary addressed how law firms can shift toward a culture of well-being. The panelists described the issues that led the participating firms to prioritize well-being, any roadblocks and barriers that needed to be addressed, how those challenges were addressed, and subsequent positive impacts of well-being prioritization.

An encore presentation of the 2020 CLC session “Safe Harbors and Calm Seas” was presented by the Insurance Programs for the Bar Committee during the lunchtime plenary. The plenary provided valuable instruction, risk control, and recommendations to help lawyers safely navigate today’s complex legal environment and assist them in minimizing professional liability risk.

During the conference’s closing plenary on Thursday evening, Neal Katyal, the former Obama administration acting solicitor general of the United States, continued the conversation of democracy and the law and shared his insights into the decisions of the Supreme Court, what we could expect this term, their importance for the country, and the Court’s sometimes tragic role in protecting our civil liberties.

The CBA thanks all those that helped make the CLC a success—the presenters, moderators, attendees, vendors, and the sponsors, particularly Platinum Headline Sponsor Kronholm Insurance Services and Plenary Sponsors CATIC, LEAP, Liberty Bank, and MONESQ.