Menapace leads Hartford County Bar Assoc. as pres.

BY John Stearns

Michael Menapace
Michael Menapace, new president of the 1,800-member Hartford County Bar Association (HCBA), started his career as a musician and music teacher before striking a new chord as a lawyer in 2003.

A partner in the litigation department in Wiggin and Dana's Hartford office, Menapace graduated from The Hartt School at University of Hartford in 1993, taught middle school music in Maryland for a year, then returned to Hartt to teach saxophone, chamber music and related courses for nine years. He was a classical saxophonist with an interest in contemporary art music and performed with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. He also had a solo career, performing nationally and internationally.

"While the career of performer and teacher appealed to me, I was being asked to take on more administrative duties at the school and I did not really want to be a college administrator, so it was time to make a change," said Menapace, who has remained involved with Hartt.

Menapace got valuable experience at what's now Dewey LeBoeuf, then joined Wiggin about 9 years ago. He focuses on complex commercial litigation, the insurance and reinsurance industries, and data breach/cyber liability issues.

What is the issue Hartford County lawyers are most concerned about?

Competition from online legal services is something the industry is struggling with. Those services cannot provide the breadth of attention and expertise that a lawyer can and businesses and people who use them have little recourse if something goes awry.

We are also trying to address the many people coming to court representing themselves. The Connecticut Community Law Center at UConn, a legal incubator HCBA helped start, is one option. CCLC provides legal representation with attorneys early in their practice to people of modest means.

If you had to offer businesses one piece of advice on insurance or cybersecurity, what would it be?

Working candidly and honestly with regulators is usually the best course. Regulators are often open to conversations and are understanding when things inevitably go wrong as long as businesses have been forthright and trying to do the right thing.

When it comes to cybersecurity, the era of sticking your head in the sand is over. Every business is a target.