CANDIDATE OPINION: Values that build a stronger community

By Patrick M. Birney

As the symbolic end of my first summer as a candidate for Wallingford probate judge quickly approaches, I can’t help but recall my first autumn as a practicing attorney and the 24 years of legal experience and service to Wallingford that have since ensued.  

In the Fall of ’98, I passed the Connecticut Bar and immediately started working full time for a small New Haven law firm. I made my first court appearance in the Guilford Probate Court on the same day I was officially sworn in as an attorney.  A little more than four weeks later, I tried my very first case in New Haven Superior Court. It was a probate appeal that included expert testimony and a hotly contested dispute regarding an interpretation of the Connecticut Probate Statutes. 

While I lost that first trial, the Connecticut Appellate Court handed me my first appellate court victory in the same case a few years later (for the fact checkers, the cite is: 64 Conn. App. 15 (2001)).  Before the fall of '98 officially ended, I also made my first public presentation as a lawyer to the Breakfast Club at Wallingford’s First Congregational Church. I spoke about the enforceability and benefits of “living wills” under Connecticut law.  I remain indebted to Reverend Dean Warburton and the late Glenn Middlesworth for the opportunity to speak that morning to a full house. 

Since then, I have appeared in courts all over the United States, from the Wallingford Probate Court to the U.S. Supreme Court. My law practice has and remains richly diverse. From representing Wallingford not-for-profits in contract negotiations, to representing residents in real estate closings, and drafting wills and trust documents.  I have represented estate fiduciaries; as well as served in trustee and guardian ad litem capacities in cases under the probate court’s jurisdiction. 

Along the way, I have litigated hundreds of matters, written and argued thousands of legal briefs, earned a Master in Laws degree (night school); authored and edited countless articles for national law journals, spoken on a host of cutting edge legal issues across the country and around the globe and made partner at one of Connecticut’s largest and oldest law firms, Robinson & Cole, LLP. 

I have been recognized as a “Leader in the Law” by the Connecticut Law Tribune, as a “Lawyer of the Year” in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2022 by The Best Lawyers in America®, which has also bestowed upon me with “The Best Lawyers in America®” recognition in each year since 2017. I also received the “First 100 Award” by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence for my pro bono work related to the Domestic Violence Restraining Order Program.   

My legal experiences remain overshadowed, however, by my good fortune to have continuously called Wallingford home.  In addition to marrying fellow life-long resident, Paige (Catala) Birney on Christmas Day at my parents’ home (surrounded by friends and family) nearly 28 years ago, we also raised our two beautiful children in town. I have served the town and community continuously since law school, including two years on the Wallingford Zoning Board of Appeals, 12 years on the Wallingford Planning & Zoning Commission and the last seven years serving as the vice-chairperson of the Wallingford Public Utilities Commission, which oversees the town’s electric, water and sewer divisions. During this time, I have also served in volunteer legal and leadership positions for a number of Wallingford not-for-profits that serve seniors, the intellectually disabled, the ill and the injured.

I have learned a lot from my time representing and serving Wallingford’s residents, businesses and not-for-profits. Living in this amazing town, I have especially learned a lot about “Wallingford values.” These values have continuously reinforced in me the importance of public service and volunteerism, and instilled an uncompromising standard that everyone must be treated with courtesy, compassion and dignity, all of which build a stronger community.  I believe my 24 years of legal experience, my lifetime of service to Wallingford, and my understanding and appreciation of “Wallingford values” make me the one candidate uniquely qualified to serve as Wallingford probate judge.  I respectfully request your vote on November 8, 2022.  

Republican Patrick M. Birney is a candidate on November's ballot to replace Wallingford Probate Judge Philip A. Wright, Jr., who is retiring after 30 years in office.


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