Fighting for vets

Quinnipiac University School of Law graduates, Walter Bansley IV, JD ’04, Keith Anthony, JD ’06, and Michael Burdo, JD ’04, from left, partners at Bansley|Anthony, stand in their office in New Haven, Connecticut. (Autumn Driscoll / Quinnipiac University)

Representing the military

School of Law graduates and partners at Bansley Anthony law firm, from left, Walter Bansley IV, JD ’04, Keith Anthony, JD ’06, and Michael Burdo, JD ’04, stand in their New Haven office.

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here are law offices within walking distance of most every state and federal court, but one firm on Orange Street in New Haven has an interesting focus. Bansley Anthony, a firm headed by managing partner Walter Bansley IV, JD ’04, devotes a good part of its practice to representing military personnel and veterans. For some of the firm’s members, the path to military lawyering started at Quinnipiac, which also has become the firm’s major recruiting station.

Whether service members or veterans find themselves entangled in criminal cases, family court issues or the battle for government benefits they’ve earned, Bansley Anthony has experts in place. The other two partners are Keith Anthony, JD ’06, and Michael Burdo, JD ’04. In all, 14 of the firm’s 16 lawyers are Quinnipiac law alumni.

The firm, which offers special rates to veterans, also has offices in Groton and Danielson, and a Fairfield office is in the works. Most of the work with military personnel comes from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London or the Submarine Base in Groton.

“One of the things I liked about Quinnipiac is that, while I was challenged with the law school aspect, I also found it easy to approach professors and interact with my classmates,” Bansley said. “And the friendships and the camaraderie I formed there are unique.”

Walter Bansley III founded the firm after completing a 20-year career in the Marine Corps. Working in the Judge Advocate General Corps, he defended or prosecuted hundreds of cases. The elder Bansley, who is easing into retirement, is said to be the military lawyer behind Tom Cruise’s character in “A Few Good Men.”

He made headlines in 2005 by flying to Iraq at his own expense to represent, pro bono, a Marine reservist from North Branford, Connecticut, accused of fraternizing with a subordinate, failure to take corrective action against a subordinate, and failure to report being in possession of stolen property (a TV). Bansley had met the man earlier at a Marine Corps ball and told him to call if he was ever in trouble. The Marine was acquitted.

The younger Bansley served as a captain in the Marines and was hired by his father after graduating law school.

Then came Anthony, hired after his hitch as a Marine Corps officer and JAG lawyer. Anthony’s law school professors wrote him letters of recommendation to the JAG program.

“I do mostly criminal defense,” Bansley IV said. “Keith expanded the firm, brought more civil to it—personal injury, family and probate. And Mike Burdo diversified us even more with real estate and transactional services work. So we’ve got a good mix, covering a lot of areas as we’ve grown.”

Another associate, Michael Fenton, JD ’09, was a Marine Corps sniper; thus, a quarter of the firm's lawyers were in the Corps.

When a service member runs afoul of the law, he or she can face both the civilian justice system and military justice system, which can be harsher. Having an expert who’s lived and worked in both worlds can be reassuring. A recent drunken-driving case Bansley IV handled for a young man from the submarine base illustrates that.

“I knew what he was going through, with having to report to his command,” Bansley said. “The pressure he was feeling from his immediate supervisor all the way up through the chain. I could talk to him in military talk and understand those pressures.”

“One of the things I liked about Quinnipiac is that, while I was challenged with the law school aspect, I also found it easy to approach professors and interact with my classmates. And the friendships and the camaraderie I formed there are unique.”
Walter Bansley IV, JD ’04, managing partner of Bansley Anthony