BMD Sets Up College Scholarship To Mark Law Firm's 80th Anniversary

May 2013: The firm has created a college scholarship program that will award $20,000 over the next four years to Bridgeport public high school students. The "New Opportunities Scholarship" has been established to mark the firm's 80th anniversary this year.

The scholarship will provide $5,000 a year for each of the four years, and will be given to a different graduate each year. A ceremony to announce the scholarship was held recently in the Margaret E. Morton Government Center in Bridgeport.

"This year, 2013, marks the 80th anniversary of the Berchem Moses law firm. As a way of celebrating our success and commitment to the region, we are offering a scholarship to help a high school student from Bridgeport fulfill his or her dreams for the future," said attorney Robert L. Berchem principal and president of the firm. more

Attorney Robert L. Berchem principal and president of Berchem Moses left, presents Bridgeport Board of Education Chairman Kenneth Moales Jr., center, and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch with a $5,000 check for the newly announced Berchem Moses New Opportunities Scholarship.

April 2013: Robert L. Berchem principal and president of the firm, has received Fairfield University's Alumni Service Award. Bob was honored at the school's 2013 Awards Dinner April 10 at the Grand Hyatt New York in New York City. A graduate of the class of 1962, Bob was the first in his family to receive a college degree. As an alumnus, he has contributed to the school in a number of capacities, including serving as a trustee from 1990 to 1996. Bob has been a member of the school's President's Circle since 1981 and was chairman in 1989. He also established a scholarship fund at the university to acknowledge the opportunities the school afforded him and to honor his mother. The Barbara M. Berchem scholarship benefits other first-generation college students. more

Robert L. Berchem left, principal and president of Berchem Moses and the Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., president of Fairfield University, during the university's 2013 Awards Dinner April 10 in New York City. At the dinner, Bob accepted the university's Alumni Service Award.

April 2013: The firm has again donated funds to the Westport Public Library to provide the LexisNexis database service. The LexisNexis program is used by library patrons seeking data for a variety of reasons, including job searches. BMD has supported LexisNexis at the Westport Library since 2009. The database has information on 46 million global companies, an archive of news publications and trade journals, and a vast collection of legal documents.

April 2013: Marsha Belman Moses and Michelle C. Laubin were speakers at the April Leadership Forum sponsored by the Connecticut State Department of Education, the Connecticut Council of Administrators of Special Education (ConnCASE), and the State Education Resource Center (SERC). Marsha and Michelle spoke on the Board of Education perspective regarding new Connecticut special education regulations. The forum was conducted April 4-5, 2013, at the Marriott Courtyard in Cromwell.

March 2013: Ira W. Bloom was part of the panel on March 16, 2013, at the Connecticut Bar Association Planning and Zoning Section seminar for municipal land use officials. The seminar, held every two years at Wesleyan University, features a group of prominent land use attorneys who summarize the latest developments for municipal commission members and staff. Nearly 300 people attended the event. Mr. Bloom summarized the latest developments in the affordable housing area.

March 2013: Floyd J. Dugas will be speaking on April 11, 2013 at the National Council of School Attorneys convention in San Diego, CA on the topic of School Safety.

February 2013: Shelby L. Wilson wrote an article for the February 18, 2013, edition of the Fairfield County Business Journal. The article, entitled "The State of the Federal Estate Tax and Why Proper Planning Remains Critical," was published in the newspaper's Wealth Management Supplement and its online edition. In the article, Shelby discusses the federal Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 and how provisions of the law affect estate and tax planning. Shelby advises individuals, families and closely held businesses on estate and generation-skipping tax planning, income tax planning, tax compliance, business succession planning, estate settlement and trust administration.

February 2013: Michelle C. Laubin has co-authored a chapter in the book " School Nurse Administrators: Leadership and Management," published by the National Association of School Nurses. The chapter, entitled "Understanding the Legal Landscape," addresses laws and regulations that may apply in the school setting governing nurses and their interactions with students, staff and parents. The book will be offered as a textbook for school nursing administrators nationwide.

January 2013: Ira W. Bloom and Mario F. Coppola appeared on a seminar panel with Judge Douglas Mintz, Judge Barbara Bellis, and Judge Marshall Berger at the Fairfield County Bar Association seminar on January 23, 2013. The topics were the new land use appeal rules, which Attorney Bloom helped draft, and the new land use docket in Hartford.

Homes with Hope

Visiting a Westport apartment complex where Homes with Hope provides permanent housing for the homeless are, left to right, Ira W. Bloom, senior partner with the law firm of Berchem Moses; Jeffrey N. Wieser, president and CEO of Homes with Hope; Eileen Francis, a paralegal with the law firm; and Jacob P. Bryniczka, a senior partner with the law firm.

January 2013: The firm has made a monetary donation to Homes with Hope of Westport to help individuals and families transition from homelessness into permanent housing. The donation from the firm will be used by Homes with Hope clients for purchases like food, gasoline and household items as they take up residence in apartments sponsored by the agency. The firm also recently made significant donations to the Connecticut Food Bank and the City of Milford's Adopt-A-Family program.

December 2012: Shelby L. Wilson was quoted in an article on estate planning in the December edition of New Haven Magazine. In the article, entitled "The Greatest Gift," Shelby comments on how charitable giving as part of an estate plan is not just for the wealthy, but can be a legacy for those of modest means. Shelby advises individuals, families and closely held businesses on estate and tax planning.

December 2012: Richard J. Buturla and Warren L. Holcomb successfully defended Stratford police officers and the Town of Stratford in a federal jury trial on claims stemming from arrests in a 2007 melee at the former Harborside Bar in Stratford. The trial in U.S. District Court in Hartford exonerated the officers and the Town of Stratford in a civil rights lawsuit that ensued in the incident. more

November 2012: Shelby L. Wilson and Joshua A. Weinshank gave a presentation on "The State of Your Estate" on November 17, 2012, at the Westport Center for Senior Activities. Topics included lifetime planning issues such as durable and springing powers of attorney, health care instructions and living wills, as well as the current state of the federal and state gift and estate tax regimes.

November 2012: Ira W. Bloom published an article in the October/November 2012 edition of Connecticut Lawyer, a publication by the Connecticut Bar Association. The article discusses a recent case, Piquet v Town of Chester, which outlines standards for appealing a decision of the local zoning enforcement officer.

Leaders in Law 2012

Mario F. Coppola, left, and Shelby L. Wilson were honored by the Connecticut Law Tribune as New Leaders in the Law at a dinner November 9, 2012. The dinner was attended by 300 people, including Governor Dannel P. Malloy. Mario and Shelby were among a select group of Connecticut attorneys age 40 and under who received the award.

October 2012: Joshua A. Weinshank has joined the firm as an associate. Joshua focuses his practice in the area of trusts & estates. He serves the needs of clients in the areas of strategic estate planning and gifting plans. He has represented fiduciaries and beneficiaries in probate hearings and the administration of estates, and has also created Medicaid planning strategies for clients.

October 2012: The firm helped collect more than 400 toys for the Yale-New Haven Hospital Toy Closet as part of a drive connected with the October 20th Yale-Penn football game at the Yale Bowl. The firm joined with the Walter Camp Football Foundation in sponsoring the toy drive and a tailgate party attended by 250 people prior to the Ivy League game. The Toy Closet program provides new, age-appropriate and educational toys for pediatric patients in Yale-New Haven's Children's Hospital. "The event was a great success, and we are proud to have been part of a toy drive that benefits hospitalized children," said Mario F. Coppola, a partner at Berchem Moses who also serves on the Board of Governors of the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

Walter Camp Event 2012

The firm helped collect more than 400 toys for pediatric patients at the Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital during the October 20th Yale-Penn football game. The toys were displayed during a tailgate party sponsored by the firm and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Left to right are Mario F. Coppola, partner; Brian A. Lema, partner; Floyd J. Dugas, senior partner; Ira W. Bloom, senior partner; Jonathan D. Berchem senior partner; David DeGrasse, paralegal; and Douglas E. LoMonte, partner.

Effective October 1, 2012, the firm has been selected to represent the Town of New Canaan for all legal matters. Partner Ira Bloom will be the designated Town Attorney. In addition to general municipal matters, the firm will also serve as labor and employment counsel to the Town.

October 2012: Attorney Marsha Belman Moses was a presenter at the CABE Workshop entitled "New Legal Issues for a New School Year: Teacher Evaluation, Bullying and School Climate" which took place on October 1, 2012 at the Sheraton Hartford South Hotel. She presented on "Bullying and School Climate: How to Help Your District Deal with These Issues"

Attorney Carolyn Mazanec Dugas wrote an article for the August 6, 2012, Municipal and Education Law issue of the Connecticut Law Tribune. The article, "State Adopts Model Educator Evaluation Guidelines," describes the state's newly adopted pilot guidelines, which will inform a new statewide system of evaluating teachers and administrators beginning in the 2013-2014 school year. The article explores the various steps that will be taken through 2014 to implement a new evaluation process, which is intended to result in improvements in the quality of public education in Connecticut.

Attorneys Carolyn Mazanec Dugas wrote an article for the August 6, 2012, Municipal and Education Law issue of the Connecticut Law Tribune. The article, entitled "New Definitions for Excused and Unexcused Absences," discusses how the Connecticut State Board of Education has developed standardized definitions for excused and unexcused absences in order to allow for consistency in determining what constitutes truancy in the state's schools. The definitions will apply across all school districts for reporting purposes on school attendance and will help the state properly report data on school attendance.

August 2012: Attorney Michelle C. Laubin was quoted in an article that appeared on the website Special Ed Connection. The article, entitled "Timely investigate students' unexcused absences," discusses the need for school officials to thoroughly assess what might be causing a special education student's unexplained absences or disruptive behavior. Not doing so opens a district to litigation that could result in having to pay for compensatory services for the student.

July 2012: Attorney Shelby L. Wilson has been named partner of the firm. Her practice focuses on estate planning, estate administration and tax law. She advises individuals, families and closely held businesses on issues dealing with estate and generation-skipping tax planning, income tax planning, tax compliance, business succession planning, estate settlement and trust administration.

July 2012: Attorney Michelle C. Laubin was quoted in an article that appeared on the website Special Ed Connection. The article, entitled "Take these precautions if making two or more placement offers," deals with the dilemmas school districts face when they offer more than one option to parents who are placing their disabled children in special education programs outside of their public schools.

July 2012: Attorney Ryan P. Driscoll is helping the United Way of Milford as a volunteer "Leader on Loan." Ryan will take part in a campaign to raise funds for various United Way programs. This is the second year Ryan has been involved in Leaders on Loan. He will be working with attorneys from other firms in Milford in the fund-raising campaign.

The firm hosted a legislative breakfast recently with 4 th District U.S. Rep. Jim Himes at the Westport Public Library. Congressman Himes, center, was introduced by Robert L. Berchem, senior partner in the Milford office, at right, and Ira W. Bloom, senior partner in the Westport office. Attorneys from the firm and their clients had the opportunity to question Congressman Himes about a broad range of issues, from education to finance to energy policy.

Rep Himes with firm partners

Ira W. Bloom, senior partner in the Westport office, spoke June 22, 2012, at a seminar sponsored by the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association at the Mark Twain Museum Center in Hartford. Ira spoke on the new court rules regarding e-filing of records in administrative appeals. About 100 planners from across the state attended the seminar.

Ira W. Bloom, senior partner in the firm's Westport office, discusses the LexisNexis database service that is offered at the Westport Public Library through the firm's financial support. With Ira are reference librarian Margie Freilich-Den, foreground, and business librarian Sylvia Schulman. The LexisNexis program has been used by library patrons seeking data for a variety of reasons, including job searches. BMD has supported LexisNexis at the Westport Library since 2009, and recently gave the library a donation to continue providing this valuable service.

LexisNexis database service at library

Attorney Michelle discussed labor and employment law developments at the Milford Chamber of Commerce's May 4, 2012, Good Morning Milford seminar. Michelle gave an overview of laws affecting how small business owners hire, manage and compensate employees. Among the topics Michelle addressed was Connecticut's new credit score law and how it affects hiring decisions. She also talked about pre-hire medical inquiries, the independent contractor-versus-employee test, and incentives for hiring veterans.

Attorney Floyd J. Dugas won a state arbitration award for the Town of Westport in a dispute with the town's public works union. Under the decision, the town for the first time will implement a defined contribution plan for newly hired employees. The plan, similar to a 401(k) plan, will replace the existing defined benefit pension plan for the new hires of the Department of Public Works. The decision also reduced the maximum pension a public works employee would be eligible for from 81.25 percent of the employee's final year salary to 65 percent, a change that represents an actuarial savings of $1 million to the pension plan. The Westport Representative Town Meeting approved the state arbitration panel decision at its April 3, 2012, meeting.

Attorneys Marsha Belman Moses and Michelle C. Laubin took part in a two-day seminar on special education topics March 29-30, 2012, in Cromwell. The seminar, which was attended by school administrators from across the state, was co-sponsored by the Connecticut Council of Administrators of Special Education (ConnCASE) and the State Education Resource Center (SERC). Marsha and Michelle both addressed the board of education perspective on restraint and seclusion in schools.

April 2012: Attorney Michelle C. Laubin obtained an AV® Preeminent TM rating from Martindale-Hubbell's Peer Review Ratings. AV® Preeminent TM is the highest rating given in the peer review process conducted by Martindale-Hubbell and attests to an attorney's high ethical standards and legal ability.

Marsha Belman Moses made a presentation to the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) April 11, 2012, in West Hartford. The program, entitled "Facebook Me: Policy and Legal Implications of Technology in the 21 st Century," addressed the legal landscape created by technology, particularly the use of social networking by administrators, teachers and students. Topics included cyber-bullying, sexting and texting, and the interface of student and teacher First Amendment rights. Marsha offered strategies and potential solutions for issues that arise for school districts in the use of social networking and other technologies.

Attorneys Marsha Belman Moses and Michelle C. Laubin took part in a two-day seminar on special education topics March 29-30, 2012, in Cromwell. The seminar, which was attended by school administrators from across the state, was co-sponsored by the Connecticut Council of Administrators of Special Education (ConnCASE) and the State Education Resource Center (SERC). Marsha and Michelle both addressed the board of education perspective on restraint and seclusion in schools.

Attorney Michelle C. Laubin made a presentation on March 22, 2012, to the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) in West Hartford. Michelle's presentation focused on the Connecticut Board of Education's proposed revisions to special education regulations. Topics included restraint and seclusion in schools, and the impact of the new bullying law on services for special needs students.

Attorney Ira W. Bloom moderated and spoke at a Connecticut Bar Association Planning & Zoning seminar March 16, 2012, on the new court rules for land use appeals. These rules significantly change the manner in which zoning and other land use appeals will be handled by the courts. The seminar was one of the first to be presented in a webcast by the bar association. Ira chairs the Planning & Zoning Section of the bar association. Ira also wrote an article that was published in the March 2012 issue of the Connecticut Lawyer magazine entitled "Forget the Large Boxes: A New Rule for Filing Records in Administrative Appeals," which explains the new rules in zoning cases.

An article by Attorney Shelby L. Wilson on current provisions in federal law affecting estate and gift planning was published in the March 5, 2012, issue of the Fairfield County Business Journal. The piece explores certain tax advantages unique in 2012 for bestowing lifetime gifts or transferring assets at death. Shelby's article, "Going ... going ... gone at the end of 2012?" can be viewed here.

Attorney Shelby L. Wilson served as a panelist in a presentation entitled "Estate Planning Gone Awry" at the 2012 Mid-Year Meeting of the American Bar Association (ABA) Tax Section in San Diego, California, on February 17, 2012. The panel discussed strategies for family estate and tax planning designed to minimize state and federal taxes.

January 2012: Mario F. Coppola, an attorney in the Westport office, was promoted to partner. Mario practices in the areas of municipal law, land use and zoning, property tax assessment appeals, real estate transactions and general civil litigation.

December 2011: The firm made holiday donations to charitable endeavors including the Connecticut Food Bank, Homes with Hope of Westport, and the Adopt-A-Family program administered by the Milford Department of Human Services in conjunction with United Way of Milford. Funds provided to the Connecticut Food Bank helped restock the shelves during the critical holiday period. Money provided to Homes with Hope was used for gift cards for homeless individuals and families transitioning into permanent housing. The donation to the Adopt-A-Family program was used to help a Milford family in need purchase children's gifts during the holiday season.

December 2011: Richard J. Buturla was named Seymour Town Counsel by First Selectman W. Kurt Miller. Richard is a senior partner in the Milford office of the firm. He concentrates his practice in the area of civil litigation, including insurance defense. Richard previously served as Town Attorney in Stratford and Cheshire, and as Corporation Counsel in Derby.

Attorney Floyd J. Dugas won a state arbitration award for the City of New Haven and its Board of Education. The decision has allowed the city to privatize roughly half of its school custodian positions at a savings of approximately $4 million per year. The award also achieved changes in the areas of pensions and health care, including the elimination of retiree health insurance for new hires. The decision offers a precedent that may pave the way for other municipal employers seeking ways to reduce costs and budget deficits. Floyd is a member of the firm's Labor and Employment Group, as well as its Education Law Group. Read more about the arbitration decision on the firm's Connecticut Education Law Blog.

November 2011: Jonathan D. Berchem was named Milford City Attorney by Mayor Ben Blake. Jonathan holds the part-time position while practicing as a senior partner with the firm in the area of general civil litigation, including insurance defense, construction litigation and employment law. Jonathan, who is resident in the firm's Milford office, is chairman of the board of the United Way of Milford, and also serves on the boards of the Woodruff Family YMCA in Milford and the Cardinal Shehan Center in Bridgeport.

Attorney Floyd J. Dugas spoke on Friday, April 8, 2011 at the National School Boards Association Counsel of School Attorneys' annual meeting in San Francisco. Floyd co-presented on the topic of Negotiating Educational Reform.

Attorney Ira W. Bloom moderated and spoke on March 12, 2011 at a Connecticut Bar Association Planning & Zoning Section seminar on Land Use for Municipal Officials. The seminar was at Wesleyan University and attracted 325 board members and staff from municipalities throughout the state.

On January 21, 2011, Attorney Shelby L. Wilson served as a panelist of a presentation entitled "Giving Away the Store: A Primer on Business Succession Planning and Post-Mortem Financing of Tax Liabilities of Estates Holding Closely Held Business Interests" at the Midyear meeting of the American Bar Association, Section of Taxation, held in Boca Raton, Florida.

Attorney Michelle C. Laubin held a workshop called "Sexting, Texting and Other Uses of Technology by Students and Staff: The Legal Predicaments, Pitfalls and Possibilities" at the 2010 CABE/CAPSS convention. Attached is an article about the presentation used with permission of CABE. November 2010 issue of the CABE Journal

On Wednesday, November 17, 2010, Attorney Shelby L. Wilson presented "Planning For You and Your Family in Turbulent Times" at the Milford Hospital, 281 Seaside Avenue, Milford, CT.

On June 15, 2010, Attorney Floyd J. Dugas spoke at a workshop presented by CABE called Collective Bargaining and Teacher Compensation in the 21st Century that was held at ACES, 205 Skiff Street, Hamden, CT.

On April 7, 2010, Attorney Michelle C. Laubin spoke at Navigating Special Education Law and Advocacy: Attorneys Representing Parents and School Boards Discuss the Issues. The free seminar addressed what every parent should know about their child's basic special education rights in and outside of school.

On March 10, 2010, Attorney Shelby L. Wilson spoke at Estate and Life Planning/Advance Health Care Directive for the New Haven County Association of Paralegals.

On March 3, 2010, Attorney Mario Coppola co-chaired and spoke at a Connecticut Bar Association seminar in New Britain on Real Estate Valuation, Tax Assessment Appeals, and Eminent Domain Procedures.

March 2010: For a second year, BMD has made a generous donation to the Westport Public Library to fund the Library's LexisNexis database service to the public. The service is available to citizens through the Library's website and was extensively used during its first year in 2009. The donation continues the firm's commitment to the Westport and Fairfield County communities.

donation to Westport Public Library

On February 24, 2010, Attorney Shelby L. Wilson spoke at "Get Active in Your Retirement-Take Control of Your Investment Portfolio and Estate Planning" hosted by Berchem Moses PC and Catamount Management Group. The event took place at the Westport Historical Society.

In December, 2009, Attorney Mario Coppola was appointed an Assistant Town Attorney for the Town of Trumbull. Attorney Coppola will handle the land use and inland wetland legal matters for the town.

Attorney Shelby L. Wilson spoke at "Preservation of Capital and Prudent Estate Planning in this Market Environment" hosted by Berchem Moses PC and Catamount Management Group. The event was held at the Westport Historical Society.

Attorney Ira W. Bloom will be speaking at the 2009 CCM Annual Convention & Exposition on October 8, 2009 at the Connecticut Convention Center. Attorney Bloom's is scheduled in Session C at 3:00 pm to speak on Municipal Law and Liability Update. Attorney Bloom will be giving an update on Land Use Law.

Attorney Ira W. Bloom has been appointed to chair the Connecticut Bar Association Planning and Zoning Executive Section for 2009-2010. Congratulations Ira.

Attorney Ira W. Bloom spoke to the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association on "Hot Topics in Land Use Law and Practice 2009" on June 26, 2009. The seminar occurred in Berlin, CT. Attorney Bloom appeared on a panel discussing recent cases in the land use area.

BMD sponsors LexisNexis at the Westport Public Library: The Westport Public Library became the first library in Connecticut to offer the LexisNexis research program to the public thanks to a generous donation by the firm. The site is available both from home and at the public library. The donation continues the firm's tradition of community involvement and support.

Westport Library Director Maxine Bleiweis noted how pleased she was with the firm's contribution.

Westport Library group photo

Ira W. Bloom spoke at the Connecticut Bar Association Planning & Zoning Section seminar on "Land Use for Municipal Land Use Agencies, Boards, and Commissions" on March 28, 2009 at Wesleyan University. The seminar attracts over 250 municipal board members and officials and is given every two years. Mr. Bloom's topic was Zoning Commissions. He is currently the Vice Chair of the Planning & Zoning Section and will be the new chair later this year.

It is our pleasure to announce that the Milford Chamber of Commerce, with over 800 member businesses, has selected Attorney Robert L. Berchem to receive its LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. The award has been given to Bob, who grew up, raised a family and worked professionally in Milford his entire life, in recognition of his numerous achievements and contributions to the business and civic fabric of the greater Milford community. Bob will be honored at the Chamber's annual meeting on Wednesday, January 28, 2009. Congratulations.

On Wednesday, October 15, 2008, Attorney Marsha Belman Moses was a presenter at the CABE sponsored program on Free Speech, Religion and Search and Seizure: The Rights of Students and Employees in the Public School Setting, The Constitutional Rights of Students.

On Thursday, October 16, 2008, Attorney Ira W. Bloom was a speaker at the Connecticut Bar Association's CLE Seminar Advanced Land Use Law discussing affordable housing law. The seminar was held at the CBA Law Center, New Britain, CT.

On Wednesday, October 22, 2008, Attorney Ira W. Bloom was a speaker at the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities Learn, Develop, Grow seminar in the Municipal Law Update section. Attorney Bloom spoke on recent land use cases.

On Friday, June 20, 2008, Attorney Ira W. Bloom spoke at Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association's (CCAPA) seminar called "Hot Topics in Land Use, Law and Practice 2008." He spoke on '08 Legislative Session Summary and Trends In Municipal Land Use Caselaw Update.

April 25, 2008 Attorney Marsha Belman Moses was a panelist at the Eighth Annual Education Law Conference "Current Topics on Legal Issues in Education Law." The conference was sponsored by the University of Bridgeport, School of Education & Human Resources and Phi Delta Kappa International

Attorney Michelle C. Laubin has been quoted in the LRE Compliance Adviser, you can view the article "Set clear limits, goals for diagnostic placement to earn parents' trust" here.

Connecticut Association of Boards of Education ("CABE") has recommended to Governor M. Jodi Rell that Attorney Floyd J. Dugas to be reappointed as Management Member of Connecticut Teacher Arbitration Panel. Congratulations to Floyd.