Partners Casagrande, Rivas, and Collins Win New England Legal Awards

New England Legal Awards 2023; three Cramer & Anderson Partners honored.
New England Legal Awards winners will be honored at a Sept. 21 gala in Boston.

Cramer & Anderson Partners Dan Casagrande, Lisa Rivas, and Jennifer Collins have won 2023 New England Legal Awards.

Attorney Casagrande is being honored among the Distinguished Leaders, Attorney Rivas won a Social Impact award, and Attorney Collins distinguished herself as one of the Connecticut legal community’s Unsung Heroes.

The awards are part of first-ever New England Legal Awards, a union of the Connecticut Law Tribune’s annual awards with celebrations of professional excellence in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

Winners will be honored at a Boston gala in September.

“Congratulations to Attorneys Casagrande, Rivas, and Collins for all their hard work and meaningful impact. They richly deserve this recognition and everyone at Cramer & Anderson is very proud of them,” said Partner John Tower.

Attorney Casagrande’s Distinguished Leaders Award

bar foundation Cramer & Anderson Municipal Law Partner Dan Casagrande won a major antitrust case victory in Connecticut Supreme Court in a case tied to the former Union Carbide property in Danbury.
Attorney Dan Casagrande

A Municipal Law Partner, Attorney Casagrande has a track record of high-profile successes and was honored as a Distinguished Leader for his work and outcomes on prominent cases in 2022 and early 2023.

The award nomination letter cited among outcomes these cases:

  • An April 2022 Connecticut Supreme Court win for a client whose plans for a crematorium in Bethel were denied.
  • A highly advantageous spring 2022 settlement in the Town of New Milford’s lawsuit challenging the Connecticut Siting Council’s 2017 approval of a major (20 megawatt) solar photovoltaic electric generating facility on a sensitive site.
  • Work with Partner John Tower that led to a July 2022 wetlands application denial for a controversial organic composting facility and construction and demolition debris transfer station in the Town of Bethlehem.

The nomination also highlighted how Attorney Casagrande took time to provide mentorship to UConn School of Law students. After winning a major antitrust case in 2020, when the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned an old precedent that said tying agreements for real estate brokerage fees violated the Connecticut Antitrust Act, Attorney Casagrande returned to the state’s high court in November 2022 to argue his client was entitled to market particular properties and leases and receive commissions now that the precedent had been overturned. While the court ultimately did not agree, Attorney Casagrande held a Q&A with the law students who had come to listen to oral arguments, setting the stage for further mentorship.

In recognition of Attorney Casagrande’s status as a preeminent municipal attorney, the award nomination noted, he was named to the 2022 Connecticut Super Lawyers list, elected a Connecticut Bar Foundation James W. Cooper Fellow, and awarded AV Preeminent status from Martindale-Hubbell, a rating that “signifies that the lawyer’s peers rank them at the highest level of professional excellence for their legal knowledge, communication skills and ethical standards.”

Previous honors for Attorney Casagrande include a 2019 Marvin J. Glink Private Practice Local Government Lawyer of the Year award from the International Municipal Lawyers Association and being named the first Connecticut Law Tribune “Giant Slayer” in 2018.

Attorney Rivas’ Social Impact Award

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Attorney Lisa Rivas

“Cramer & Anderson Partner Lisa M. Rivas has built a thriving Immigration Law practice that prioritizes pro bono work, public service, volunteerism, and philanthropy – all inspired by her mission to empower the often powerless, to foster nurturing environments for diversity, and to support social justice locally and regionally,” the award nomination begins.

It goes on to cite Attorney Rivas’ work in difficult areas of Immigration Law to help clients who might otherwise have nowhere to turn, and to highlight her community service work and leadership within the firm, which includes the recruitment, nurturing, and mentoring of young Associates with a focus on bolstering diversity and inclusion.

“What truly sets Attorney Rivas apart are above-and-beyond pro bono efforts to assist and enrich the immigrant community in Fairfield County and northwestern Connecticut,” the nomination says. “As a volunteer for the now closed Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury, Attorney Rivas created and taught a citizenship course that became so popular it went from being offered once a year to four times annually—and she taught two of the four classes herself. She also participated in the Center’s annual backpack drive and the Three Kings Day Celebration, which included presenting gifts to children.”

She also gives free talks on immigration-related issues and serves as Chair of the Selection Committee for the Latino Scholarship Fund, Inc.

Previous honors for Attorney Rivas include a Connecticut Law Tribune New Leaders in the Law award and a UConn Law School Alumni Graduates of the Last Decade Impact Award.

Attorney Collins’ Unsung Heroes Award

Cramer & Anderson Partner Jennifer Collins
Attorney Jennifer Collins

“Cramer & Anderson Partner Jennifer Collins is a classic Unsung Hero whose selfless devotion to helping people overcome challenges and elevate their lives filters through every aspect of her own life,” her award nomination begins.

In her Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, and Social Security Disability practice, Attorney Collins thrives on helping clients who most need compassionate and powerful advocacy, and has vigorously represented the disabled, the injured, the elderly, children, and parents in crisis.

That compassionate advocacy extends to her public service and tireless efforts in leading the firm’s initiatives to give back to the community. In 2022, working with Attorney Rivas, she guided these efforts:

  • Donating 10 upright shopping carts to the Daily Bread Food Pantry in Danbury to give clients without vehicles a way to transport food.
  • A pre-Thanksgiving holiday donation of food to Camella’s Cupboard Food Pantry for Children in New Milford.
  • The annual donation of holiday gifts for area children in foster care to the 98Q radio station’s Bags & Bears holiday drive.
  • Coordinating the firm’s donation of gift cards and unwrapped items for The Center for Empowerment and Education’s holiday shop where Moms can choose gifts for their children.

Attorney Collins also leads the firm’s participation in the annual SafeWalk to raise funds for the Center’s essential mission of ending domestic violence.

Cramer & Anderson attorneys have brought home many Connecticut Law Tribune awards in recent years, including a pair in 2022, when Partner Mitchell J. Melnick won an Unsung Heroes award for his behind-the-scenes work on major business and corporate transactions, and Trusts & Estates Partner Josh Weinshank, won a Distinguished Leaders award. See that story for a list of other recent awards.

About Cramer & Anderson

Cramer & Anderson provides sophisticated legal services, close to home, with regional offices in New Milford, Washington Depot, Kent, Litchfield, Danbury, and Ridgefield. For more information, see the firm’s website or call the flagship office in New Milford at (860) 355-2631.

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