School of Law celebrates alumni and history at Inaugural Alumni Association Awards

November 07, 2023

Attendees of the inaugural alumni association awards smile and clap.

With pride and excitement, Quinnipiac’s School of Law celebrated 45 years of history with its Inaugural Alumni Association Awards event on November 3.

School of Law alumni representing classes across the decades gathered for a special night of presentations at the School of Law’s Ceremonial Courtroom on the North Haven Campus.

The Quinnipiac School of Law Alumni Association recognized four inaugural award recipients. The night’s speakers also reflected on the school’s early years. The event also served to embrace and preserve the law school’s history with a special unveiling of founding Dean Tony Santoro’s portrait.

School of Law Dean Jennifer Brown said it was a delight to see the room filled with people there to celebrate the history of the law school. Brown, who joined the faculty in 1994, said she stood on the shoulders of so many whose hard work created Quinnipiac’s School of Law.

“We’re a young law school relative to many others, and I think that’s caused us to take pride in being ‘young, scrappy and hungry,’ to quote Lin-Manuel Miranda,” said Brown. “But in addition to embracing those really wonderful qualities, I think we can also start to embrace a sense of pride in our history. That’s what this evening is about because we have such a wide range of graduating classes here joined together to celebrate Quinnipiac."

Brown recognized President Judy Olian for joining the significant event. Brown additionally thanked former Dean Edward Rodriguez for his work in the early years of the school. Rodriquez served as dean of the Wethersfield School of Law, which would later move to the University of Bridgeport School of Law, and, in 1992, became the Quinnipiac School of Law.

Brown thanked Rodriguez for his many contributions which later assisted the then-dean of the University of Bridgeport School of Law, Tony Santoro, in receiving the American Bar Association (ABA) accreditation necessary for Quinnipiac’s acquisition. The School of Law moved from Bridgeport to Quinnipiac’s Mount Carmel Campus in the 1990s, where it remained until the opening of its new building on the North Haven Campus in 2014.

Ahead of unveiling Santoro’s portrait, Brown said it was the fruition of the efforts of Marilyn Ford, Quinnipiac School of Law professor, and Martin Margulies, professor emeritus, which helped to ensure that Santoro’s memory, and the role that he played, will be preserved at Quinnipiac.

“Through their efforts and actions, we now have a portrait of the founding Dean of Bridgeport Law School to hang in our lobby, and we’re unveiling it tonight,” said Brown.

Ford, Margulies, and Joseph Carvalko, a Quinnipiac School of Law professor, spoke on the early years, people and stories of Quinnipiac’s School of Law. Quinnipiac University School of Law Alumni Association President Adam Swanson, JD ’08, presented the night’s first two inaugural alumni awards.

Swanson presented the President’s Award to Danielle Robinson Brand, JD ’10. Brand was recognized for her unwavering work to ensure the rights of low-income immigrants. After graduating from Quinnipiac Law, she was a founding member of a low-bono immigration law firm in Connecticut. Brand has continued her social justice work at the second law firm she founded, Justicia Law, serving Minneapolis and the wider Minnesota community. This past year, Brand generously donated hundreds of hours of her time leading the inaugural Quinnipiac School of Law trip to Guatemala and co-teaching the new Guatemala Colloquium.

In thanking the Alumni Association and School of Law for her selection of the prestigious award, Brand noted Quinnipiac University and the seal of the state of Connecticut share the motto, “Qui Transtulit Sustinet,” meaning “He who transplants, sustains.”

“There is no more appropriate analogy from the world of nature to my life’s work serving immigrants - the men, women and children who find themselves displaced from their native homelands due to formidable forces beyond their control, and oftentimes beyond their understanding. As an immigration attorney, I aspire every day to bring compassion, diligence and integrity to my law practice,” said Brand.

Swanson presented the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Award to Tanya A. Bovée, JD ’01. Bovée is a principal in the Hartford, Connecticut, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and a member of the firm’s Board of Directors. She represents employers in a wide range of issues related to employment law and partners with companies around the country to develop diversity, equity and inclusion strategies. Bovée holds a diversity and inclusion certificate from Cornell University and conducts customized diversity, inclusion and bias workplace education sessions. She has presented hundreds of in-house training sessions for executives, management and employees regarding equal employment opportunities, harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

Bovée said it was incredibly humbling to look out among her fellow alumni and professors. She credited Quinnipiac with introducing her to diversity, equity and inclusion through her membership in the Asian Pacific Law Student Association.

A member of the Connecticut Asian Pacific American Bar Association (CAPABA) for almost 20 years and a past president, Bovée is also on the board of the Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity and regularly speaks about advancing diversity in the legal profession. She encouraged her peers to become involved, as well.

“Being involved in efforts to increase DEI in our legal community and the world at large has really been tremendous,” said Bovée. “We always want to be the change that we wish to see in the world.”

Kelly Petter, JD ’11, Alumni Association secretary, presented the evening’s final inaugural awards.

The Entrepreneurial Alumni Award was earned by Anthony Minchella, JD, ’96. His firm services high-end clients with just three lawyers, representing Fortune 50 financial services companies, physician groups, healthcare providers, small and large specialty products companies and contractors. Principals and general counsel of these companies turn to Minchella and his firm to represent their interests in corporate governance, employment litigation, trade secret and non-competition litigation, unfair trade practice claims, U.S. Department of Labor investigations and construction litigation. Minchella also acts as outside general counsel to companies. Before many others, Minchella Law embraced cutting-edge technology to provide the best service to its clients.

Minchella said the innovation that’s in his work was instilled at Quinnipiac, which was the Bridgeport School of Law at Quinnipiac College when he was accepted.

“I still remember when I got the acceptance letter into the pre-admit program,” said Minchella. “I got on my knees and thanked the Lord because it was four years of trying to get into law school.”

In addition to his family, Minchella brought with him to the event his original book from his pre-admit course, instructed by Margulies.

“You had to get a C or better in order to be accepted into the law school. I had no doubt I was going to do it because I worked so hard to get there,” said Minchella, who went on to graduate fifth in his class. “After working that hard to get accepted, and having one law school take me, I owe everything to this law school and I will never stop giving back to it.”

The Service to Community Award was presented to Darren Pruslow, JD 11. Pruslow is a supervising attorney at the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC), a non-profit organization devoted to helping veterans who cannot afford legal representation, where he represents Veterans in a variety of civil matters. Prior to working for the CLVC, Pruslow operated his own firm, focused on low-bono cases. During his approximately 10 years with the CVLC, Pruslow is credited with helping innumerable veterans and also helping to build up the CVLC, itself.

Pruslow said he appreciated the recognition and is grateful for the support of family and colleagues so that he can provide his services to those who cannot afford representation.

“Having a law degree is an immense responsibility,” said Pruslow. “I think, as an attorney, we have an obligation to giving back, whether you’re lucky enough to do it as a full-time job, or you do it in other ways. This is not because we’re exceptional, but because we’ve been given the privilege of being able to practice law and we need to be able to use that to protect our community.”

Alumni attending the November 3 event included representatives from all phases of growth of Quinnipiac’s School of Law, said Brown.

“It’s really special to have you all here. Welcome to Quinnipiac, to North Haven. This is your law school. This is your legal education home,” said Brown. “We hope that you will continue to come here and engage with us and continue to be a part of Quinnipiac Law School.”

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