Elder Law Firms Bring Unique Strengths To Merger

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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Another key practice area is helping families who must care for children with special needs or severely injured adults.

When Sharon Pope launched her own elder law practice in Hartford about six years ago, she was already thinking about a succession plan for her firm and her two associates. After all, she had started the practice midcareer, having previously taught paralegals at the University of Hartford for 30 years.

Plus, planning for something that will happen years down the line is second nature to an elder law attorney, who, of course, focuses on helping clients with retirement planning and end-of-life arrangements.

"I knew, probably more than most attorneys, that I needed a succession plan almost as soon as I got into my own practice," Pope said.

Now she's putting her plan into practice. As of Jan. 1, Pope, her two associates and five paralegals have joined forces with the larger Berlin firm of CzepigaDaly. The newly christened CzepigaDalyPope will have eight attorneys and 22 support staff members who will focus on elder law matters, including estate planning and geriatric care. Another key practice area is helping families who must care for severely injured adults and children with special needs.

"This is huge," said Paul Czepiga, who helped tailor the merger. He initiated discussions between the firms over a year ago, mindful that while his firm's strength was in the financial planning arena, Pope's was in the home-care and special-needs realm.

"I think Sharon has always had a great reputation as an ethical and moral practitioner, and we were doing cross-referrals with each other," Czepiga said. "We decided, for both, merging would allow us to better serve the needs of our clients."

Pope, 55, just finished a term as chair of the Elder Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association. In merging with the Czepiga firm, she was interested in providing a future for her associates and paralegals, who are all former students of hers. "That was very important for me," she said.

Even before the merger was finalized, the two firms spent months in discussions about how to integrate their staffs.

"We came up with a list of best practices, to provide continuity for our clients," Pope said.

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