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Color of Law Roundtable Series

Created in 2007, the Color of Law Roundtable brings attorneys of color to Western New England University to share their educational, career, and personal experiences with the School of Law community.

The speakers give students an opportunity to ask candid questions about career choices, career challenges, and the decisions that the speakers made in response to those challenges. Roundtable speakers, many of whom are graduates of Western New England University School of Law, represent a wide range of practice areas and careers, giving students a firsthand look at the numerous possibilities a legal education can provide.


Dean Sudha Setty and Professor Bridgette Baldwin both joined the School of Law faculty in the fall of 2006.

Dean Setty was a litigator for seven years prior to joining the School of Law, and has written in the areas of comparative constitutional law and politics as well as Title IX and women’s rights.

Professor Baldwin was a criminal and civil defense attorney in New York City and also taught in the area of criminal law and procedure before joining the School of Law. Her research interests include criminal law and procedure, welfare law, and critical race theory.

Upcoming and Recent Events

November 2, 2022 (view flyer)
Attorney Elwyn Quirk
Attorney Elwyn Quirk is a 2007 graduate of Western New England University, School of Law. Upon graduation, she worked as a clerk at the Hartford Superior Criminal and Civil Courts and then entered private practice as an associate attorney handling personal injury, workers’ compensation, and social security disability cases in Bristol, Connecticut. In 2010, Attorney Quirk opened her legal practice in Meriden, Connecticut, primarily in residential and commercial real estate closings and probate related matters, including conservatorships, decedent estates, and trusts.

Attorney Quirk is a member of the New Haven County Bar, the Hartford County Bar, and the George W. Crawford Black Bar Associations. She presently serves as Secretary of the New Haven County Bar Association and Chairperson for the Meriden-Wallingford-Cheshire Section of the New Haven County Bar Association. Attorney Quirk also serves on the Board of Directors for the MidState Chamber of Commerce, the Meriden Economic Board, and the CT After School Network.

Attorney Quirk earned her Bachelor of Arts & Science degrees in Political Science & Communications from
Boston College and a Master’s degree from Trinity College
in Public Policy.

October 12, 2022 (view flyer)
Attorney Lyonel Jean-Pierre, Jr.
Attorney Lyonel Jean-Pierre, Jr. is currently the Managing Attorney at Worcester's Community Legal Aid (CLA).  Prior to be becoming the Managing Attorney for CLA, he was a Clinical Instructor/Supervising Attorney with Harvard Legal Aid. Attorney Jean-Pierre, Jr. started his legal career as a Massachusetts Legal Services Corporation Bart Gordon Fellow with the Prisoner's Legal Services Program (formally known as the Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services). When the fellowship ended, Attorney Jean-Pierre, Jr. became a full-time Staff Attorney with the Worcester CLA, where he litigated various domestic relations and restraining order matters in the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court and Massachusetts District Court.  After nine years with CLA, Attorney Jean-Pierre, Jr. joined the Law Office of Murphy and Rudolf, LLP, where he expanded his family law practice to include representing parents and children in care and protection proceedings in the Massachusetts Juvenile Court.  

February 7, 2022 (view flyer)
Attorney Justin J. Hurst
Attorney Justin J. Hurst L’04 was born and raised in the city of Springfield. He is the son of Attorneys Frederick A. Hurst and Marjorie J. Hurst, who are the founders and publishers of An African American Point of View newspaper. Attorney Hurst is a graduate of the Springfield Public Schools and received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from the University of Virginia.

Attorney Hurst began his service in the Springfield Public School district as a secondary English teacher. He assumed the role of Coordinator of Implementation for the Striving Readers Adolescent Literacy Initiative. Later, Attorney Hurst was appointed as the Director of Implementation for the Striving Readers Adolescent Literacy Initiative.

He received his Juris Doctor degree from Western New England College School of Law and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar Association in 2004. He currently serves as the manager for London Realty, LLC. In 2013, Attorney Hurst was elected as a Springfield City Councilor. In 2019 and 2020 he was unanimously voted by his colleagues to serve as President of the City Council.


Past Events

October 13, 2021 (view flyer)
Attorney Bernadette Stark
Attorney Bernadette Stark is the Director of the Student Legal Services Office at UMass Amerherst, providing advice, assistance, and representation to students in the areas of family law, estate planning, and immigration.  Previously, Attorney Stark was a founding partner of the law firm, Dinsmore Stark, and a Staff Attorney at Community Legal Aid, where she represented low-income survivors of domestic violence. She has over 17 years of experience representing clients in all aspects of dispute resolution and litigation.

Attorney Stark earned her Juris Doctor from Cornell Law School and her Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, from Binghamton University. She received the Sarah Betsy Fuller Social Justice Award, a distinguished alumni award granted by Cornell Law School. She has been honored as a “Diversity Hero,” as well as a “Woman of Justice” by Massachusetts’ Lawyers Weekly. Attorney Stark was also named a “Super Lawyers Rising Star” for New England four years in a row and was recognized in “Top Attorneys: Massachusetts’ Outstanding Young Women Lawyers” by Boston Magazine.

March 22, 2021
Attorney Anjali S. Kumar (View Flyer)
Anjali S. Kumar is an attorney at Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury & Murphy, P.C. Her practice focuses on a broad range of employment law matters, including wage and hour laws, employment discrimination, non-competition agreements, and leave laws. In addition, Ms. Kumar represents clients in a variety of business and civil litigation matters. Prior to joining Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury and Murphy, P.C., Ms. Kumar worked at the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office in the Solicitor General’s Division and at a large law firm in Minneapolis. Ms. Kumar interned at the Minnesota Court of Appeals and clerked at county attorneys’ offices in Minnesota during law school. She graduated from Hamline University School of Law, where she was on the Hamline Law Review and a member of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition team. Ms. Kumar earned her BA in Communications, with honors, from the University of Illinois–Urbana Champaign. She is on the board of directors of a local nonprofit, Link to Libraries. Additionally, she is on the board of directors of the Hampden County Bar Association (HCBA) and in the summer of 2020, formed the Racial Justice Committee of the HCBA. Ms. Kumar is also on the board of the Connecticut Asian Pacific Attorney Bar Association.

February 24, 2020
Attorney Talia Gee L’10/G’12 (View Flyer)
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, City of Springfield
As Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Attorney Talia Gee is responsible for the development and implementation of proactive diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in hiring, career development, and leadership opportunities in support of the City of Springfield’s strategic plan to continue to foster a working environment where all have an opportunity to succeed. Attorney Gee is a graduate of St. John’s University in New York City and received her MBA and Juris Doctor from Western New England University. Gee previously worked at Community Legal Aid, the law firm of Sullivan, Hayes & Quinn, and the New York Yankees. Attorney Gee has primarily practiced labor and  employment law, focusing on civil rights and discrimination. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Springfield Boys & Girls Club and is the co-creator of the “How to Wear Your Crown” event which focuses on the empowerment of Springfield area teenage girls.

Otober 23, 2019
Honorable Tina Page '82 (View Flyer)
Honorable Tina S. Page ’82 was appointed to the Superior Court by the late Governor Paul Cellucci in 1998 and served until her recent retirement in 2018. Prior to her appointment, she was an assistant district attorney in the Hampden County District Attorney’s office, handling major felony cases. During her years as a general practitioner, she was a criminal defense attorney and handled divorces and real estate matters. Judge Page earned a bachelor’s degree in 1977 from Hunter College of the City University of New York and a juris doctor degree from Western New England School of Law in 1982.

March 13, 2019
Azizah Yasin
Attorney Azizah Yasin is the First Assistant Clerk-Magistrate of the Holyoke District Court as well as the Dedicated Clerk of the Western Massachusetts Veterans Treatment Court, which is one of the Specialty Courts that helps veterans who come into contact with the criminal justice system as they struggle to reintegrate into society post-military service. Attorney Yasin had her own law practice in Quincy for nearly fourteen years, during which time she represented clients in such areas as domestic relations, immigration, child welfare, and personal injury law. She graduated with a B.A. from Wellesley College, double majoring in Africana Studies and Psychology. She later graduated from Boston University School of Law with a J.D., with a concentration in Litigation and Dispute Resolution. Attorney Yasin is a member of the Hampden County Bar Association and serves as the New England Regional Representative for the Wellesley College Alumnae of African Decent. 

November 1, 2018
Clarissa Wright '99
Attorney A. Clarissa Wright has been practicing law for over 16 years. Currently, she is an Assistant District Attorney with the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office. She previously owned and operated her own law practice in Worcester County, as well as worked for a private law firm out of Norwood, MA. Attorney Wright received her J.D. from Western New England University School of Law in 1999 and her B.A. in Accounting from Clark Atlanta University. She is a member of the Hampden County Bar Association.

February 27, 2018 
Deepika Bains Shukla
Deepika Bains Shukla is the Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts in Springfield. She prosecutes federal criminal cases involving fraud, public corruption, gun and drug crimes, terrorism, and civil rights crimes. Before starting at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2014, Deepika was a staff attorney at the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, a litigator at a small civil rights firm, and an associate at a large law firm in New York. Deepika earned her J.D. at the University of California, Berkeley.

October 23, 2017 
Tahirah-Amatul-Wadud '05 - Tahirah Amatul-Wadud is an attorney licensed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the US District Court for the Northern District of New York, and the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts. She is a commissioner on the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and in that role advocates before the state legislature to enact laws responsive to the needs of women and girls. Additionally, she runs a law practice with focus areas in civil rights and domestic relations law. Attorney Amatul-Wadud was invited to the White House in December 2015 for a program on Celebrating and Protecting America's Tradition of Religious Pluralism. She is a public speaker and her areas of expertise include issues relating to family law, women, civic engagement, interfaith solidarity, children, race, and religion. She graduated from Elms College in Chicopee in 1998 and Western New England University School of Law in 2005. Please join us for this inspiring speaker. 

March 24, 2017
Honorable Rupal Shah - Judge Shah was nominated to the Connecticut Superior Court in 2014 by Governor Malloy and is the first Indian American to serve on the Connecticut Judiciary. Over the last three years, she has served as a trial court judge at the Rockville G.A., the New Britain Judicial District, and the Litchfield Judicial District. She currently presides over civil matters at the Waterbury Judicial District courthouse. Judge Shah is a first generation Indian American who grew up in Glastonbury, CT, attended Glastonbury Public Schools, and has lived in Connecticut for most of her life. She is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and Georgetown University Law Center. After graduating from Georgetown, Judge Shah returned to Connecticut to begin her legal career, which encompassed both the private and public sector and included diverse practice areas.

October 19, 2016
Attorney Maurice Powe L'01, Springfield Attorney - Attorney Powe serves as Risk Manager of the Children International Summer Village (CISV) Chapter of Greater Springfield, Secretary of the Brethren Community Foundation, Chairperson of the Springfield NAACP Legal redress committee, and Director for the Hampden County Lawyers for Justice, and is on the Board of Directors of the Urban League of Springfield.

February 24, 2016 
Jacquelyn Lee-Washington, Springfield Attorney

October 1, 2015 
Rishi K. Desai ’09, Director of the Business Law Department at Shah & Associates, P.C.

November 9, 2013
Sarala Nagala, Assistant United States Attorney, District of Connecticut

February 20, 2013
Elizabeth Rodriguez Ross '07, City Solicitor for the City of Holyoke Law Department

March 27, 2013
Proloy K. Das, Rome McGuigan, P.C.

January 27, 2012
Julie Alleyne - The Hartford Financial Service

March 14, 2012
Namita Tripathi Shaw - Day Pitney LLP, Municipal Finance and Institutional Commercial Lending Practice

April 4, 2012
Sunila Thomas-George ’95 - Commissioner for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

September 12, 2012
Rev. Peter Sylver - Pastor, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Presbyterian Church

October 10, 2012
Mia Kim Sullivan - Director of the Civil Liberties and Public Policy program at Hampshire College

February 9, 2011
Taruna Garg - Associate, Murtha Cullina, LLP

September 7, 2011
Nebiyu Feleke '00 - Department of Homeland Security

October 2010
Alexis Highsmith - Greater Hartford Legal Aid

January 2010
Cynthia Tucker '86 - Labor Relations Specialist, Executive Office of Health and Human Services

February 22, 2010
Julian T. Tynes '97 - Assistant General Counsel/Labor, Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services

April 1, 2010
Genine Roure '97 - Assistant Professor, Department of Latin American and Latina/o Studies, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York

September 29, 2010
Van Johnson III '04 - Denner Pellegrino, LLP, Career Paths: Real Estate Attorney

October 14, 2010
Luis R. Vera Jr. ’92 - nationally recognized civil rights attorney and General Counsel and Legal Advisor, League of United Latin American Citizens

October 19, 2010
Kathleen A. Brown-Perez, Assistant Professor with Commonwealth Honors College, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

November 5, 2010
Cecil Thomas - Staff Attorney, Greater Hartford Legal Aid, Inc.

February 24, 2009
Asker Saeed - Assistant Counsel, Operational Commercial Programs, United Technologies Corporation, Pratt & Whitney Division, East Hartford, CT

April 13, 2009
Cheryl Coakley Rivera (D) '95 - Massachusetts State Representative, 10th Hampden District, Springfield, MA

September 22, 2009
Angela Brown - Assistant Vice President & Counsel, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company

October 5, 2009
Alex Toribio - Associate Attorney, law firm of McCarter and English

November 3, 2009
Dave Vatti - Assistant United States Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office in Hartford

November 16, 2009
Roderick Ireland - Associate Justice, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

January 17, 2008
Alesia Days ’99 – Associate City Solicitor; City of Springfield

February 29, 2008
Netta Vatti – Attorney; Zeldes, Needle & Cooper

March 25, 2008
William Tong – Connecticut State Representative

April 17, 2008
Charles Rucks '07 - Executive Director; Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services

September 30, 2008
Jeanie Tung - Director of Employment Services; Henry Street Settlement Workforce Development Center

October 30, 2008
Jessica Torres '99 - Assistant Attorney General; Connecticut Office of the Attorney General

November 10, 2008
Charles Groce III '97 - Criminal Defense Attorney