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Firm News: 2013

November 15-16, 2013: Berchem Moses lawyers attended the 2013 conference of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education/Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, November 15-16 in Mystic. The theme of the CABE/CAPSS conference was “Keeping Focus on Student Growth in a Time of Rapid Change.” The firm sponsored the conference’s Friday dinner speaker, poet Azure Antoinette. Pictured here, left to right, are Marsha Belman Moses, Floyd J. Dugas, Berchem Moses partners; and Trumbull Board of Education chairman and State Board of Education member.

November 2013: Mario F. Coppola, of the Westport office, recently presented before the Connecticut Bar Association’s Planning and Zoning and Environmental Law Sections a summary of important new legislation. Of particular interest to the land and zoning practice is Public Act 13-9, which amends Connecticut General Statute § 8-13a, to extend the same protections currently applicable to nonconforming buildings to nonconforming structures. As a result of the change, state law now provides that any structure that violates zoning regulations for required setbacks for minimum lot area shall be a legal nonconforming structure if the “structure has been so situated for three years without the institution of an action to enforce the regulation.” The statute defines a “structure” as having the same meaning as in the applicable local zoning regulations or, if undefined by such regulations, it shall mean “any combination of materials, other than a building, that is affixed to the land, including without limitation, signs, fences, walls, pools, patios, tennis courts and decks.” It is important to note that the owner shall bear the burden of proving that a structure qualifies as a nonconforming structure under the statute. As a result of this new legislation, various structures which would otherwise be in violation of the local regulations are now legal so long as the structure has existed in that location for a least three years without any enforcement action from the town or city.

November 2013: Bryan L. LeClerc, a partner who resides in Fairfield, recently stepped down after serving on the Town Plan and Zoning Commission for five years, the last several as its chairman. His tenure on the commission was featured in an article published in the Fairfield Citizen and linked here by permission of the newspaper.

But Bryan’s community service is far from over. As a longtime participant with the Boy Scouts of America, Bryan was recently named vice president of legal affairs for the board of directors of the Connecticut Yankee Council. He has been involved with the Connecticut Yankee Council for more than 10 years in a variety of roles, including as a local Scoutmaster. The Connecticut Yankee Council serves more than 17,000 youth members and nearly 4,600 adult volunteer leaders within five programs in Fairfield and New Haven counties and the town of Southington in Hartford County. more

Attending the Walter Camp Football Foundation tailgate party and toy drive are, left to right, Stacy Oswald, legal assistant; Douglas E. LoMonte, Partner; Matthew Sapienza, law clerk; Mario F. Coppola, Partner; Jonathan D. Berchem Partner; Ira W. Bloom, Partner; Katherine Ashelford, legal assistant; Brian A. Lema, Partner; and Michael Esposito, paralegal.

October 2013: Berchem Moses PC was the sponsor of the 16th annual Walter Camp Football Foundation (WCFF) tailgate party at the Oct. 19 game between Yale and Fordham University at the Yale Bowl. WCFF President Jim Monico said, “The impact of Berchem Moses’s contribution can best be measured by the amount of toys that were collected for the Yale-New Haven /St. Raphael’s Children’s Hospital Toy Closet at our tent. Without exaggerating, there were five tables, each eight-feet long, filled with toys for children suffering from various disabilities that required their hospitalization.

July 2013: Ophelia Barnett, a 2013 graduate of Bridgeport’s Central Magnet High School, has been named the winner of the inaugural Berchem Moses New Opportunities Scholarship. She was awarded $5,000 for her college expenses.

During a ceremony at Bridgeport’s Margaret E. Morton Government Center are, left to right, Robert L. Berchem principal and president of Berchem Moses; Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch; scholarship winner Ophelia Barnett; and Ophelia’s mother, Norma Barnett.

Ophelia, who plans to pursue a medical career, will attend the University of Connecticut.

Attorney Robert L. Berchem principal and president of Berchem Moses said the firm has decided this year to increase the amount it will give in scholarship awards to more than $7,500. In addition to the $5,000 scholarship initially planned, the firm has awarded a second-place winner $1,000 and is giving smaller amounts to 10 runners-up.

Felicia Salgado, also of Central Magnet High School, is the recipient of the $1,000 scholarship. She will attend the University of New Haven and plans a career in criminal justice.

The law firm created the New Opportunities Scholarship as a way to mark its 80th anniversary this year. The firm will award scholarships over the next four years to deserving graduates of Bridgeport high schools. Different graduates each year will receive the scholarships. The firm has committed at least $20,000 to the scholarship program and will consider renewing the program after the initial four years.

July 2013: The firm has relocated its Westport office to 1221 Post Road East. The office will occupy more than 4,700 square feet in its new location. There will be offices for up to 10 lawyers, as well as conference rooms to serve client needs. “The Post Road is a thriving business corridor where we can effectively serve our growing client base in Fairfield County,” said Westport Managing Partner Ira W. Bloom.

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.

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.

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.