Jack P. Carroll ‘24
On Thursday, Apr. 22, the Trinity College Pre-Law Society met via Zoom with alumni who are practicing attorneys at Shipman & Goodwin, LLP to discuss their time at Trinity, law school experiences, and legal careers in the city of Hartford.
The Pre-Law Society and current students and faculty members who were in attendance were joined by the following Trinity graduates: Jessica Ritter ‘01, a Partner in the firm’s School Law Practice Group; Stephen Gellman ‘85, a Partner and Chair of the firm’s Trusts & Estates Practice Group; and Andrew Davis ‘81, a Partner who chairs the firm’s Environmental Practice Group and teaches environmental science, law, and policy as an Adjunct Professor at Connecticut College.
In the beginning of the discussion, the alumni talked about their decision to attend Trinity as well as their coursework, extracurriculars, and transition into law school.
When reflecting on her decision to attend Trinity, Ritter, who attended the Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Connecticut, stated that she was interested in athletics and was always looking at Division III schools where the “academics were very strong” and she “had the opportunity to play on the [soccer] team.” Among the NESCAC schools to which she was accepted, Ritter felt “the most welcomed” at Trinity and was drawn to the city where she took full advantage of the available internship opportunities.
Gellman also wanted to study in a city (as opposed to a rural area) after growing up in Washington, DC. As a history and religion major, Gellman stated that he enjoyed taking courses with “great professors” in subjects that he was interested in learning about. Outside of the classroom, Gellman was a sports editor for The Trinity Tripod and involved in the WRTC-FM radio station.
Before pursuing a career in environmental law, Davis studied biology at Trinity where he was “embedded within the science department.” After his undergraduate years, Davis earned a masters and a Ph.D. in marine biology and ecology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Davis credited his adviser at Trinity, Charles A. Dana Professor of Biology, Emeritus Craig Schneider, for helping him connect with a professor at UMass Amherst who had access to grant funds that allowed Davis to conduct research in Africa, the Arctic, and Europe.
When speaking about their transition into law school, each of the alumni indicated that they did not immediately attend law school after their time at Trinity. As previously mentioned, Davis earned a masters and a Ph.D. before studying at The George Washington University Law School. Prior to attending the University of Connecticut School of Law, Ritter spent two years working for the Massachusetts legislature; also, Ritter spent a year in AmeriCorps coaching athletics and teaching in the inner city of Boston. Gellman taught at a high school before going on to law school at the University of Pennsylvania.
The alumni then discussed their law school experiences and their careers as practicing attorneys at Shipman & Goodwin.
Comparing law school to her studies at Trinity, Ritter likened her legal education to “learning a new language.” Ritter explained that in the first year of law school students learn a new way of thinking that they have not previously performed. After completing 5-6 core classes in their first year of law school, Ritter stated that law students have more discretion in selecting the classes that they take. Ritter added that law students can complete practicums or clinics. During her time at UConn, Ritter–who now represents local boards of education throughout the state–participated in the Center for Children’s Advocacy clinic which allowed her to shadow attorneys and argue cases in court under their supervision.
When describing his work for the firm’s Environmental Practice Group, Davis stated that he is a “business and transactional compliance lawyer” who is responsible for helping clients develop environmental insurance products as well as purchase and sell contaminated property. Also, Davis explained that his work involves corporate and energy and utilities transactions. Referring to the tasks that he was working on at the time, Gellman stated that he prepares wills and trusts, consults with real estate agents, and meets with clients to obtain input that is needed to complete estate projects.
Jack P. Carroll ‘24 is the Events Chairman of the Trinity College Pre-Law Society who moderated the alumni panel discussion.
The full panel discussion can be accessed using the following link https://trincoll.mediaspace.kaltura.com/media/Shipman+%26+Goodwin%2C+LLPA+A+Conversation+with+Trinity+Alumni+and+Alumnae+About+Their+Legal+Careers+in+Hartford/1_w5rxf7lu/189282213