Attorney Tanyee Cheung Receives 2023 Ladder Award

Written Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The CBA Women in the Law Section, in association with the CBA Young Lawyers Section (YLS) Women in the Law Committee, honored Tanyee “Tan” Cheung as the 2023 recipient of the Ladder Award at Pathways to Leadership for Women Lawyers on March 2 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville.

 (From Left to Right) CBA President Daniel J. Horgan, Hon. Nina F. Elgo, CBA Women in The Law Section Chair Kathryn L. Bissonnette,
2023 Ladder Award Recipient Tanyee Cheung, CBA President-Elect Maggie I. Castinado.

The Ladder Award was created by the YLS Women in the Law Committee in 2007 to honor a woman attorney who has "left the ladder down" for women to follow in her footsteps, and values the importance of leadership development, mentoring, and supporting junior lawyers in their journeys to success. Attorney Cheung joins a prestigious group of past awardees that includes Hon. Anne C. Dranginis, Rosemary E. Giuliano, Kathleen L. Brandt, Margaret A. Deluca, Hon. Elizabeth J. Stewart, Maureen Danehy Cox, Hon. Nada K. Sizemore, Diane W. Whitney, Tanya A. Bovée, Hon. Maria A. Khan, Deirdre M. Daly, Hon. Lynda B. Munro, Elaine S. Amendola, and Elizabeth A. Alquist.

 Attendees socialized prior to the speeches at the event.

 CBA Women in The Law Section Chair Kathryn L. Bissonnette addresses attendees.

CBA Women in the Law Section Chair Kathryn L. Bissonnette welcomed attendees to the program: “In my own journey to becoming a partner of Brown, Paindiris and Scott, the support of other female attorneys was paramount to my reaching my goals.” Attorney Bissonnette further shared, “In a world where negativity, uncertainty, and hardship are barriers to success, especially for women, having the knowledge that there are other women out there who’ve been through similar experiences, and thrived through those experiences, provides the fuel for all of us to keep going, so we’re here tonight to celebrate those women,”

Women in the Law Section Vice Chair Michelle Napoli introduced the event’s keynote speaker, Connecticut Appellate Court Judge Nina F. Elgo, the first Asian Pacific American judge appointed to the Connecticut Appellate Court and also the first appointed to the Connecticut Superior Court. In her keynote speech, Judge Elgo mentioned the importance of the women in the legal field that came before her, who helped guide her in the path that led to her current position. She also critiqued the subtly prejudicial comments she faced upon becoming a judge and spoke of how implicit bias can adversely affect even a judge’s actions and rulings. Judge Elgo explained that she shared a common interest with Attorney Cheung in well-being practices, which she feels assists in combatting biases and ensuring our own success. “Taking a pause is a lesson I’ve learned over and again, especially when our emotions get triggered.... The pause has helped me check myself and pull back from anger, shame, or humiliation and ask, is this really about me or someone else….Pausing helps us check for the distortion that our own or others’ emotions can affect,” stated Judge Elgo. She thanked Attorney Cheung for taking up the cause of wellness and indicated that wellness is an essential element of success for everyone.

 Keynote speaker Appellate Court Judge Nina F. Elgo addresses attendees.

Young Lawyers Section Women in the Law Committee Co-Chair Kara Zarchin presented the Ladder Award and thanked the five prior Ladder Award recipients who attended the event: Hon. Anne C. Dranginis, Elizabeth Alquist, Tanya A. Bovée, Rosemary E. Giuliano, and Diane W. Whitney. She spoke about how Attorney Cheung had led a memorable YLS workshop in 2021, during which she empowered the young attorneys that attended it with stories of her family and work experiences. Attorney Tamu Lewis, a colleague of Tanyee Cheung at Finn Dixon & Herling LLP, extolled Attorney Cheung’s traits and achievements, stating, “Tan’s contributions stand far beyond the field of corporate finance. Her unceasing energy and her commitment to the development and advancement and well-being of junior attorneys is truly remarkable.”

 2023 Ladder Award recipient Tanyee Cheung speaks to the audience.

As Attorney Cheung was invited to the podium, she received resounding applause from the audience. Prior to speaking, she invited the entire room to take a calming pause and join her in three deep breaths. Attorney Cheung noted that, according to a recent article in The Washington Post, practicing law is the most stressful occupation in the United States.  In response to the article and similar supporting statistics, Attorney Cheung stated, “The important thing to remember is that we can do something about it. For ourselves, we can recognize the importance of self-care and self-compassion. We can take the time to see that occupational well-being is but one pillar of well-being and that we need to spend time nurturing the other pillars of well-being: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and environmental.” She noted that through actions, people can affect not only their own well-being but support that of their colleagues. “We have the opportunity to listen, encourage, and empower the people we work with and if enough of do so we can shift the environment of the whole legal profession,” commented Attorney Cheung.