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"I think of Cummings & Lockwood as the top law firm in the state of Connecticut," says a local interviewee, adding that "trusts and estates is very important to them and is a big part of their business." The firm has trusts and estates attorneys in its Greenwich, West Hartford and Stamford offices.
The firm's private clients group wins particular praise for the quality of its drafting. One source says that "the Cummings & Lockwood legal professionals not only designed complex legal plans but also have experience in implementing the strategies they recommend," and another reports that "their investment in their proprietary document drafting programme results in documents that are easy for the client to understand, thorough, flexible and on the cutting edge of planning issues." The team is also praised for the lack of "legalese language" in their plans compared with those of other attorneys, "so a layman could read and understand the content" of these documents. "They are the best firm that I deal with, by far," a source says, explaining that "they are very forward-looking; they draft their own documents and incorporate changes in the law very quickly; they integrate the estate tax, gift tax, generation-skipping transfers and income tax into their planning; and they can really focus on what matters to the client."
Douglas Olin is principal-in-charge of the Greenwich office and an experienced private client attorney with a track record in complex estate planning, particularly for hedge fund and private equity principals. A fellow estates attorney says: "He has an active practice; he is in Greenwich representing high net worth individuals. He's a good lawyer - very solid."
Heather Rhoades is partner in charge of the firm's West Hartford office and is an estate planning and administration expert. One interviewee says that Rhoades is "very knowledgeable on estate planning, easy to work with, personable and comes across very well to clients," and another adds that "she is expert, patient and caring and is totally focused on optimising client outcomes." A third source, who describes Rhoades as "a compassionate legal adviser," reports that "our clients have a high level of confidence in Heather."
Hugely experienced private clients partner
Howard Tuthill is said to be "at the top of his game" for trusts and estate planning work. He is "strong for core estate planning" and "dedicated to personal service to his clients," sources say. Tuthill, whom friends and colleagues call Terry, is based in the firm's Stamford office.
Kelley Galica Peck is highlighted for her work as a speaker and writer on estate planning topics in the state of Connecticut. She is said to be "very prompt and attentive" on client matters, and "well regarded in the profession."
Laura Beck , who is based in Greenwich, chairs the firm's private clients group. Beck is "an outstanding lawyer in every regard," a client enthuses; "she is extraordinarily intelligent and incredibly hard-working. She also has a warm, caring personality and takes genuine interest in her clients. Laura deals with many members of my family, and each individual sings her praises. Despite her deep expertise, she never makes clients feel that their questions and concerns are trivial; she takes every interaction seriously and treats everyone with courtesy and respect."
Michael Kaelin is a litigation lawyer in the firm's Stamford office. Kaelin's generalist litigation practice includes a significant component of trusts disputes and contested probates. He also gets involved in difficult trust and estate planning matters where future disputes are expected, to anticipate the likely issues and try to avoid litigation.
According to one local interviewee,
Paul Bourdeau is "as thorough as anybody," and a "master technician" who is "wonderful with clients." Another reports that "he is extraordinarily intelligent and has a remarkable amount of common sense; he has a very good approach in ordering what is important and going line by line from most important to least important. When he is done, it is perfect - you can't do better."