Robinson+Cole is pleased to announce the addition of Deirdre M. Robinson as a partner in the firm’s Real Estate + Development Group. Robinson represents developers in the Northeast and across the country in all aspects of affordable housing development with an emphasis on syndication of tax credits including low income housing, historic and new markets. She joins Business Litigation Group lawyers Amanda R. Phillips and Seth B. Orkand as the third partner to be welcomed in Robinson+Cole’s Boston office in 2021. Read more in the press release.
Robinson+Cole Managing Partner Rhonda J. Tobin is among those recognized in the 2021 Insurance Law Trailblazers list. Published in a special supplement of the National Law Journal, the inaugural list spotlights professionals who are agents of change in the area of insurance law. Read more in the press release.
Robinson+Cole Managed Care + Employee Benefit Litigation Group lawyer Gregory J. Bennici was chosen as a winner of the 2021 “Fairfield County 40 Under Forty.” Presented by the Fairfield County Business Journal, the distinction recognizes 40 dynamic industry leaders who are part of Fairfield County’s business growth. The honorees were each profiled in a special issue of the publication and celebrated during a virtual event on February 25, 2021. Read more in the press release.
Robinson+Cole’s partnership has elected Rhonda J. Tobin as its next Managing Partner, effective March 1. Tobin will be the first woman to lead the 175-year old AmLaw 200 firm, and will succeed Stephen E. Goldman, who has led the firm since the beginning of 2016.
“I’m extremely proud and humbled to be entrusted to lead our great firm of incredibly talented lawyers and professional staff,” said Rhonda J. Tobin. “We have achieved so much over the last few years, and I look forward to continuing the aggressive growth of our practices while also maintaining the essence of our identity. Our 175-year legacy is built on our strong collaborative and inclusive culture – among our lawyers and staff, with our clients, and in the communities where we live and work. I am honored to have this opportunity to build upon that legacy by continuing to embrace change in the years ahead. It is especially meaningful to take on this role at the firm that has been my home for the last 30 years.” Read more in the press release.
Robinson+Cole is pleased to announce the addition of Amanda R. Phillips as a partner in the firm’s Business Litigation Group. Ms. Phillips is an experienced commercial litigator with a background in accounting, technology and business. She is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Ms. Phillips will be resident in the firm’s Boston office. Read more in the press release.
Robinson+Cole is pleased to announce the addition of Katherine M. Katchen as counsel in the firm’s Managed Care + Employee Benefits Litigation Group. Ms. Katchen has more than 20 years of litigation experience representing clients in complex commercial litigation matters, particularly in the area of managed care and insurance. She will be resident in the firm’s Philadelphia office. Read more in the press release.
Business Litigation Group lawyer Kendra L. Berardi was elected president-elect of the Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts (REBA) during the association’s virtual annual meeting on November 2, 2020. Kendra will serve a one-year term beginning January 1, 2021. She has served on the REBA Board of Directors since 2014 and held several leadership roles including clerk, co-chair of the Continuing Education Committee and chair of the New Lawyers Section. Read more in the press release.
For 175 years, Robinson + Cole has been committed to the principle that the Rule of Law is the bedrock of our society. We deplore the acts of violence that occurred at our nation’s Capitol on January 6, 2021. These actions were a direct assault on the Rule of Law, and we believe that all who incited and/or participated in them should be held accountable.
Insurance + Reinsurance Group lawyer Cara C. Vecchione is among 16 honorees named to the National Association of Women Lawyers’ (NAWL) inaugural Rising List. Chosen by the NAWL, the list of recipients is made up of individuals advancing in their careers, helping others advance in their careers, and/or fighting to advance women under the law. Cara will be recognized during the NAWL Mid-Year Meeting hosted on March 25 and 26. Currently, she co-chairs the NAWL’s Young Women Lawyers Group, serves as the Engagement Co-Chair for the NAWL’s 2021 Mid-Year Meeting and Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon and is actively involved in the NAWL’s Women in Insurance Group. See the 2021 NAWL Rising List.
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group lawyers Megan E. Baroni, Christopher Y. Eddy, Peter R. Knight and Jonathan H. Schaefer authored the article "Avoiding Dust- Ups with OSHA over NFPA 652 Compliance" published in the March issue of ISHN (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News). The article offers an update on OSHA's Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program, which was launched in 2008 and continues to be an area of focus and enforcement. "While no OSHA standard directly addresses combustible dust, this has not hindered OSHA enforcement. Instead, OSHA has relied on the General Duty Clause and reference to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards when citing employers for combustible dust hazards." Under NFPA 652 facilities were required to complete an initial dust hazard analysis by September 7, 2020. Megan, Chris, Peter and Jon also briefly cover the applicable NFPA standards and OSHA’s compliance guidance. Read the full article.
Labor and Employment Group members Britt-Marie K. Cole-Johnson, Rachel V. Kushel, Abby M. Warren and Kayla N. West co-authored the article “The ABCs of DEI” published in Industry Week on March 12, 2021. The article offers best practices for cultivating a workplace that promotes a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) while also supporting manufacturers' overall business objectives. “Ideally, getting DEI right this year is a priority for employers, including those that may be federal contractors subject to affirmative action laws and regulations seeking to strengthen their commitments and strategies.” Britt-Marie, Rachel, Abby and Kayla go on to share questions for manufacturers to consider posing to evaluate where they currently stand on DEI and core components for a strong DEI program. Read the full article.
Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team Chair Linn F. Freedman was quoted in the article “COVID-19 Vaccine Tracking To Keep Focus On Data Privacy” published in Law360 on March 11, 2021. The article focuses on the importance of data privacy considerations as companies monitor employee health information related to COVID-19, including who’s been vaccinated. "’This health data is being collected for a specific purpose for a limited amount of time, and it's highly personal,’ said Linn Freedman, a partner at Robinson & Cole LLP. ‘So companies need to think about it in a different way than typical HR data, because they don't want this information put in someone's HR file forever, and employees would also appreciate knowing that their employer is only using the data for certain purposes and will destroy it.’" Read the full article.
Real Estate + Development Group lawyer Deirdre M. Robinson was featured in the article "Robinson & Cole Adds Real Estate Partner In Boston" published in Law360Pulse on March 11, 2021. Deirdre joined the firm as a partner in the Boston office on March 4, 2021. When asked why she chose Robinson+Cole, Deirdre told Law360Pulse "'They have a very strong reputation in the affordable housing industry and they do a lot of finance in that realm,' she said. 'It seemed like a natural extension and after talking to people, it seems like the synergies between the existing affordable housing practice and my practice would work well together. It felt like Robinson & Cole was a good place to grow that practice.'" Subscribers can read the article here.
Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team lawyer Deborah A. George was quoted in the article “Virginia Passes Privacy Bill Amid Enforcement, Compliance Concerns” published in Communications Daily on February 22, 2021. While the premise of the article is on the recent passing of consumer data privacy legislation in Virginia, Deb was quoted in the piece’s “States to Watch” section as keeping a close eye on New York, “where Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) included a comprehensive privacy measure in the budget (S-2505/A-3005) and several other bills are pending. ‘It’s clearly a priority for the governor.’” In addition, she also “sees broader industry support this year for the Washington Senate bill.” Read the full article.
Real Estate + Development Group lawyer Evan J. Seeman and Labor and Employment Group lawyer Abby M. Warren have been elected by the Connecticut Bar Foundation as Fellows of the James W. Cooper Fellows Program. The program was established to honor the leading members of the legal profession and the judiciary in Connecticut, to promote a better understanding of the legal profession and the judicial system, and to explore ways to improve the profession and the administration of justice in Connecticut. Membership in the Fellows is by invitation only and is evidence of professional distinction. View the Class of 2021.
Intellectual Property + Technology lawyer John L. Cordani authored the article “Balancing Innovation and Competition: Thomas Jefferson’s View of Obviousness for Mechanical Inventions” published in IPWatchdog on March 5, 2021. In the article, John references a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to Isaac McPherson in 1813 to suggest that Jefferson’s flexible approach to obviousness in the area of mechanical inventions might prevent patent thickets and enable fair competition, lower barriers to entry, and decrease prices. “Jefferson’s letter to McPherson showed that he weighed the marginal contribution of an invention against basic, foundational technologies, keeping in mind that a mere change of form—like changing fashions—should not be patentable.” Read the full article.
Labor Relations Group lawyers Natale V. DiNatale and Kayla N. West authored the article “Unions Will Gain Strength with NLRB Changes” published by Industry Week on March 5, 2021. The article highlights current and potential developments within labor law under the Biden administration that may impact manufacturers in 2021. “After less than a month in office, [President Biden] had already begun to take action, signaling that [workers’ rights to organize] issues are a priority for the administration.” Read the full article.
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group member, James P. Ray, authored the article “Medical Monitoring?: Depends on Where You Live,” published in the Spring 2021 edition of the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation Environmental & Energy Litigation Committee newsletter on March 5, 2021. The article examines three recent PFAS-related cases heard in Alabama, Vermont, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, each of which had a different outcome in its respective court. Jim writes, “Depending on the jurisdiction, the claim for medical monitoring may be asserted as an independent cause of action for medical monitoring but is more typically asserted as a form of relief based on another tort theory. But whether such a claim or request for relief is available varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.” Read the article here.
Immigration Group member, Jennifer L. Shanley, was highlighted in a recent United Way Women United social media spotlight. In the "#WomenRockWednesday" profile, Jen enthuses about her business immigration practice and career highlights, as well as her love of family life as the mother of two boys. She is a member of the board of United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut and leads its New Member sub-committee of the Engagement Committee. In addition to her work with United Way, Jen is an active volunteer with Special Olympics Connecticut. She also is a member of the firm’s Women’s Committee and Safety & Health Committee. The spotlight is available on LinkedIn and Facebook.
The February 19, 2021 announcement of Robinson+Cole’s new Managing Partner, Rhonda J. Tobin, was covered in stories from several media outlets. The first woman to lead the Am Law 200 firm in its more than 175-year history, Rhonda was highlighted in The American Lawyer, BloombergLaw, The Global Legal Post, The Legal Intelligencer, the Connecticut Law Tribune, Business Insurance, Reuters, and the Hartford Business Journal. Read the feature story from Law360 here.
Insurance + Reinsurance Group lawyers Phyllis A. Ingram and Sedgwick M. Jeanite authored the article “Perspectives: Environmental, social and governance considerations for corporations, D&O insurers” published in Business Insurance on February 16, 2021. The article covers the growing shareholder interest in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and how investors are increasingly considering ESG initiatives along with more traditional financial considerations in their investment decision-making process. Corporations have responded by making voluntary corporate ESG disclosures resulting in greater scrutiny of public ESG commitment disclosures as investors seek to hold corporations and their directors and officers accountable when corporate policies and practices fall short of stated objectives. Phyllis and Sedgwick observe that “corporations and their directors and officers liability insurers should therefore be mindful of a corporation’s potential susceptibility to ESG risk in today’s D&O marketplace.” Read the article.
Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team chair Linn F. Freedman has been listed in the Chambers Global 2021 ranking guide in the area of Privacy & Data Security – USA. Produced by Chambers and Partners, the Chambers Global Guide ranks the top lawyers and law firms in over 200 jurisdictions across the world. Rankings are based on in-depth research by the publication’s team of researchers. Read more about the ranking methodology.
Manufacturing Industry Practice Chair Jeffrey J. White was quoted in the article “CT manufacturers, hit hard early on by pandemic, now lead state’s jobs recovery” published in the Hartford Business Journal on February 22, 2021. The article focuses on how Connecticut manufacturers have pivoted in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic to recover 61 percent of 12,000 jobs lost in March 2020. "’There was a significant rebound for a lot of manufacturing businesses as we hit the end of 2020,’ White said. ‘It doesn't surprise me that the job numbers rebounded. … I expect that [the industry will] continue to recover.’" Read the full article.
Managed Care + Employee Benefit Litigation Group lawyer Gregory J. Bennici was profiled in a special issue of the Fairfield County Business Journal commemorating the publication’s 2021 “40 Under Forty” winners. In addition to providing a brief bio, Greg’s profile share’s a business tip that he found most helpful and how he describes achieving his own personal success. View the profile.
Recognizing dynamic industry leaders who are part of Fairfield County’s business growth, 40 Under Forty honorees will be celebrated during a special virtual event on Thursday, February 25th.
Labor and Employment Group lawyer Abby M. Warren was extensively quoted in the article “Maintaining the Legal Front Line as Businesses Start Getting Back to Work” published by the Connecticut Law Tribune on February 11, 2021. The article focuses on how lawyers are serving as a resource in guiding employers through a range of pandemic-related issues such as mask requirements, travel restrictions, school closures and the effect on employee attendance, managing sick leave, and telecommuting policies. Abby offers insight on her experience working with clients over the past 10 months and reinforces the importance of solid employer communication with employees. Read the article.
Land Use Group lawyer Edward V. O'Hanlan is among the 15 lawyers nominated by Governor Ned Lamont to fill vacancies as judges on the Connecticut Superior Court. This is the first class of Superior Court nominations made by Governor Lamont since taking office in January 2019. Appointments are to eight-year terms, with the expectation of reappointment until reaching age 70. Ted is the former chair of Robinson+Cole’s Land Use Group, and served as the partner in charge of the firm’s Stamford office from 2015-2017. His practice runs the full gamut of land use matters, from administrative applications and appeals to complex real property litigation. In addition to his practice, Ted serves on the board of directors for the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center and has served as an adjunct professor in real property law at Pace University School of Law. He has taught trial advocacy for the Connecticut Bar Association and at the Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island. Ted is a retired Navy captain (JAG) after 25 years of active and reserve service. All judicial nominations are subject to confirmation by both chambers of the General Assembly. Read more in the press release.
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group lawyers Megan E. Baroni, Christopher Y. Eddy, Peter R. Knight and Jonathan H. Schaefer authored the article “Breaking the chain of “substantial continuity” — Tenth Circuit clarifies test for repeat OSHA violations” published in ISHN (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News) on February 10, 2021. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Sec’y of Labor v. Wynnewood Refining Co. recently evaluated the applicability of the substantial continuity test in connection with an OSHA citation that included several repeat violations. The article offers background on the important role that repeat violations play in OSHA citations, how the substantial continuity test has been applied in determining whether a current company should be held liable for repeat citations based on citations from a prior company, and how the Tenth Circuit addressed that question in Wynnewood Refining. Read the full article.
Labor and Employment Group members Britt-Marie Cole-Johnson, Rachel Kushel, Abby Warren and Kayla West co-authored the article “Employer Best Practices For Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” published in Law360 on February 11, 2021. The article addresses employers’ options in responding in 2021 to challenges in the workplace on highly-charged matters of social justice and civil rights. The piece outlines steps employers can take to foster a workplace that both respects and promotes a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) while also supporting the business’ overall objectives.
The authors write that “employees are poised to take employers to task because of their silence, or even to change employers based on their disagreement with their employer’s position on an issue.” They offer a series of reflective questions that can help move an organization forward on DEI issues, such as: Where are we now? What are our goals and how will we hold ourselves accountable? What internal and external resources will we need? and Does our current leadership have the skillset necessary to speak competently on DEI issues?
In addition to these considerations, the article also outlines key components and steps employers can take to engage and involve employees, crafting achievable strategies that can be implemented to build a strong, sustainable DEI program and position their business “ahead of the curve” in 2021. To read the full article, click here.
Construction Law Group lawyers Joseph A. Barra and Niel P. Franzese authored the article “COVID’s Impact on the Designer’s Standard of Care” published in the “Legal Beat” column of the Winter 2021 issue of PE, the flagship publication of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). The article focuses on COVID-19’s impact to the common law as it affects the design professional’s standard of care. Joe and Niel offer a primer on the design professional’s standard of care and share insight on how it’s measured, how COVID-19 might change the standard of care, and how it may impact design professionals’ future engagements. Read the full article.
Robinson+Cole’s Capital Markets and Securities Team (the Team) was pleased to represent GrowGeneration Corp. (GrowGen), an owner and operator of a network of specialty hydroponic gardening stores, in two recent transactions. On December 11, 2020, GrowGen completed its $150 million follow-on public offering of shares of common stock at $30 per share. GrowGen intends to use those net proceeds primarily to expand its network of stores through growth and acquisitions. The Team advising on the stock offering was led by Team Chair, Mitchell L. Lampert, and included Shant H. Chalian, Frank W. Eucalitto, and Adam T. Tamzoke. Read more.
The Team also was pleased to represent GrowGen in connection with its acquisition of Canopy Crop Management, an industry-leading silicic acid company that sells silicic acid-enriched fertilizers, which was announced on December 23, 2020. Led by Team Chair Mitchell Lampert, Robinson+Cole’s Megan E. Baroni, Frank Eucalitto, Michael J. Kearney, Jr., Kayla C. O'Leary Jacqueline Pennino Scheib and Emilee Mooney Scott advised GrowGen on the transaction. Read more.
Class Action Team Chair Wystan M. Ackerman has been selected as a representative of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (FDCC) to participate in drafting best practices to improve the administration of justice in class actions as part of a group organized by the George Washington University Law School Humphreys Complex Litigation Center. Wystan will participate on the team addressing appellate summary affirmance of objector appeals and a checklist for judges approving class-action settlements. The best practices are expected to be reviewed during the Center's second annual class-action conference in November. New best practices will be added annually during subsequent conferences. The best practices will be posted on the Center’s website and will become the first chapter of a compendium of class action best practices.
Construction Law Group lawyer Lisa B. Andrzejewski authored the article “Construction industry forecast: Cloudy with a chance of sun,” published in the New England Real Estate Journal on January 22, 2021. Describing 2020 as a year “of change and uncertainty,” Lisa writes “most commentators agree that an industry-wide recovery will occur – however, a question remains as to whether it will be in 2021, or later.” She goes on to cover COVID-related cost impacts, construction hiring, supply chain impacts, and transportation and infrastructure opportunities. Read the full article.
Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team Chair Linn F. Freedman was quoted in the article “Supply Chain Hit Spurs Companies to Rethink Vendor Relationships” published by Bloomberg Law on February 4, 2021. The article highlights companies’ reevaluation of vendor management in the wake of the SolarWinds massive supply chain attack. Specifically, re-evaluating their security practices and contracts with third-party providers. “…software developers need to increase their own security practices since companies can employ dozens of vendors for a variety of needs, and it’s difficult to continuously examine and vet them all, said Linn Freedman, a privacy and security partner at Robinson & Cole LLP in Providence, R.I.” Linn went on to say “The companies that are in the best position to evaluate their own software security and component parts are the software makers themselves.” Read the full article.
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group lawyer Emily C. Deans was named Vice President of the Connecticut Environmental Forum (CEF) during the organization’s November meeting. CEF provides a forum for environmental professionals to share and exchange information and experiences on environmental matters, and to learn about the latest issues regarding environmental regulation. The organization’s core mission is to educate its members on the important environmental issues that affect their community and career. Emily previously served in the role of Director.
The Connecticut Bar Association’s Board of Governors voted unanimously at its December 14, 2020 meeting to appoint Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group member, Jon Schaefer, to the Statewide Legal Services Board of Directors. Upon confirmation during the organization’s January 25, 2021 meeting, Jon begins a three-year term. With this appointment, Robinson+Cole lawyers now serve in leadership roles on all four of the principal legal aid organizations in Connecticut, including Ed Heath, President of the Board of Directors of Greater Hartford Legal Aid, Peter Knight, a member of the Connecticut Legal Services Board of Directors, and Conor Duffy, who was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of the New Haven Legal Assistance Association.
The recent additions of Business Litigation Group lawyers Amanda R. Phillips and Seth B. Orkand in Boston, along with Managed Care + Employee Benefit Litigation Group lawyer Katherine M. Katchen and Bankruptcy + Reorganizations Group lawyer Rachel Jaffe Mauceri in Philadelphia were featured in the article “Robinson & Cole Expands With New Lawyers In Philly, Boston” published by Law360 on January 28, 2021. The piece briefly profiles each of the lawyers, offering background on their practice and why they chose to make the move to Robinson+Cole. In addition, Managing Partner, Stephen E. Goldman shared insight on how the hires are part of the firm’s larger strategic plan. "'The goal was really to build on our strengths with a focus on our fastest growing regions,' he said. 'We focused on a combination of more senior lawyers with well-developed practices and people at earlier stages of their careers who are really talented.'" Read the full article.
Construction Law Group member Frederick E. Hedberg has been elected to the Hartford County Bar Foundation (HCBF) Board of Directors beginning January 1, 2021. Established in 1999, HCBF is the charitable arm of the Hartford County Bar Association doing good work on behalf of the lawyers of Hartford County. The Foundation is a non-profit corporation committed to helping improve economic and social conditions throughout Hartford County including donations to organizations dedicated to assisting the poor, disabled and homeless.
Bankruptcy + Reorganizations Group lawyer Steven J. Boyajian was quoted extensively in the article “Biden DOJ Not Likely To Open Bankruptcy Up To Pot Cos” published in Law360 on January 20, 2021. The article examines whether a potential softening of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) position regarding cannabis might alter the U.S. Trustee Program's strong stance against marijuana-tied bankruptcies. In a 2017 letter sent to Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 trustees, U.S. Trustee Program Director Clifford White III directed the private bankruptcy trustees to alert the U.S. Trustee Program anytime they uncover assets that appear to be tied to marijuana so the program can file a motion to dismiss. “If the U.S. Trustee Program stopped trying to get these cases dismissed, Boyajian says the courts may be less inclined to [dismiss] the bankruptcy cases of businesses and individuals on the periphery of the industry, especially if they can secure a commitment that the person or business will cut off any ties with the drug after emerging from bankruptcy.” Subscribers can read the full article.
Business Transactions Group lawyer Norman H. Roos was quoted in the article “Federal agencies, states compete to be fintech regulator” published in CQ Roll Call on January 19, 2021. On January 13, 2021, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a unit of the Treasury Department approved Anchorage Digital Bank NA to hold cryptocurrencies for customers, making it the first federally regulated bank for digital assets such as Bitcoin. The approval came just days after a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) task force recommended Congress authorize the CFPB to issue national licenses to certain fintech firms. The article goes on to examine which agency is best suited to oversee the growing financial technology (fintech) market. Norm acknowledged that the OCC “is the chartering authority at the national level” making another agency “counterintuitive.” He also questioned the need for a national fintech chartering authority at all “…state regulators, working through the CSBS [Conference of State Bank Supervisors], have boosted state collaboration to smooth multistate fintech licensing efforts.” Read the full article.
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group lawyers Earl W. Phillips Jr. and Jonathan H. Schaefer co-authored the article “A look at President-elect Biden’s approach to environmental justice” published in Waste Today on January 18, 2021. After providing a brief overview of environmental justice (EJ), a governmental response to the disparate environmental and public health impacts of pollution on minority and economically disadvantaged communities, the article examines President-elect Joe Biden’s Plan to Secure Environmental Justice and Equitable Opportunity and also highlights state-level EJ activity. In addition, Earl and Jon offer insight into proactively addressing EJ regulations using a structured, measured approach. Read the full article.
Intellectual Property + Technology Group lawyer Maria A. Scungio authored the article “U.S. Customs Recordation – A Valuable Enforcement Tool” published on IPWatchdog.com on January 4, 2021. The article focuses on the recent extension of recordation eligibility to pending copyright applications on a temporary six-month basis by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. For owners of trademarks and copyrights registered in the U.S., this is a potent enforcement tool to stave off entry of increasing volume of infringing and counterfeit goods into the U.S. Maria acknowledges that “The investment for recordation is nominal, the process is simple, and the IP rights enforcement services received in return are significant.” Read the full article.