Karen DeMeola ’96, assistant dean for enrollment and students, was honored as the 2018 Attorney of the Year at the Connecticut Law Tribune’s annual awards dinner on May 24, 2018.
In addition to serving as assistant dean at UConn School of Law, DeMeola is president of the Connecticut Bar Association. The other finalists for the award were Aaron Bayer of Wiggin and Dana LLP and Thomas Behrendt of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project. The audience gave all three finalists standing ovations.
"I am honored by this recognition," DeMeola said. "Aaron and Tom are two amazing attorneys and I am humbled to have been nominated with them.”
The Connecticut Law Tribune presented awards to many other attorneys, including several UConn Law alumni, in 11 categories at the awards dinner in the Bond Ballroom in Hartford.
DeMeola was recognized for her work on diversifying the profession, and on behalf of young people and members of the LGBT community. As president-elect of the Connecticut Bar Association, she launched the Pathways to Legal Careers program, which brings legal professionals into middle schools and high schools to encourage underrepresented young people to become lawyers.
“Karen is an exemplary leader, mentor, attorney and friend. She leads by example, and inspires those around her with her dedication, compassion, thoughtfulness, and principled approach to all that she does,” said Cecil Thomas ’06, a staff attorney at Greater Hartford Legal Aid who works with DeMeola at the Connecticut Bar Association. "Under her mentorship, countless law students have been welcomed to Connecticut, and gone on to accomplish great things, both personally and professionally. As an attorney, she has never stopped advocating for equity and justice for all. The Connecticut legal community is lucky to call Karen one of our own.“
After graduating from UConn Law in 1996, DeMeola worked as a civil rights lawyer and then returned to UConn Law in 2000 as director of admissions. She was elected to the Connecticut Bar Association leadership in 2015 and became president in 2017 for a one-year term that comes to a close on June 30, 2018.
Among the other UConn Law alumni honored at the awards dinner were Brian Farnen '03 and Moses Vargas '07, who received the General Counsel Impact of the Year Award; Aigne Goldsby '16, Nisha Kapur '14, Aaron Levy '06, and Stephen Napier '09, who were recognized as New Leaders in the Law; William Davis '55 and Claudia Baio '89, who were honored as Distinguished Leaders; Christopher Kriesen '93, who was named a Game Changer; and Marcy Tench Stovall '93, who was honored as an Unsung Hero.