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East Lyme lawyer joins small Essex firm

A prominent lawyer from East Lyme last month left a large New London law firm to join a boutique firm in Essex.

Rob Tukey, 49, joined Gould-Larson law firm in Essex last month with longtime friend Paige Quilliam. Both are East Lyme natives.

Tukey and Quilliam met as children when Tukey played East Lyme Little League with Quilliam's older brother, Sean Stevens. The future lawyers attended East Lyme High School together before moving out of their hometown to study law.

After encountering each other in the courtroom for years, Quilliam convinced Tukey to join the small team of lawyers at her firm, where she has worked for about five years. Tukey had practiced law at Suisman Shapiro in New London for more than 21 years.

"For a long time, Paige has been asking for me to come work with her, but it was a pretty sudden decision for me," he said. "The two firms couldn't be any more different."

Tukey said that he is looking forward to the opportunities that a smaller firm offers, like more freedom to choose the cases he argues and the clients he represents.

"I was managing partner at my old firm, where there were 20 attorneys, 50 employees — to come to a smaller firm with three lawyers and six employees is a big difference for me," Tukey said. "It's a much more agile career, and I'll have a lot of opportunities to expand my practice."

At Suisman Shapiro, Tukey focused on family law. He'll continue that in Essex, but he said he'll have an opportunity to expand his practice to cover more personal injury cases and some probate litigation. He also hopes to expand his real estate practice.

"Being able to expand my practice and have the ability to pick the cases that interest me is really what I'm looking forward to," he said. "The management of a smaller firm is less of a complicated procedure, so that's something that, in terms of quality of life, I'm also looking forward to."

The highlight of his career thus far, Tukey said, has been litigating a variety of cases in the courtroom.

"My ability to handle countless cases and be able to bring them, if they have to, into the courtroom has been my biggest accomplishment," he said. "The judges that I've been fortunate enough to be in front of are wonderful judges who will really hear what the lawyers have to say, and I've been able to do a good job for my clients and maintain relationships with them."

Quilliam said she remembers having lunch with Tukey decades ago and talking about their plans to become family lawyers, and she's always hoped to work with him.

"He's a great lawyer. I've had cases against him, so I've seen him in the courtroom," she said. "He's a great litigator, he's always prepared and he's good at negotiating."

Through the legal community in southeastern Connecticut, she's been aware of his good reputation. "When you have a small community of lawyers you work with, it's easy to identify who is the best to work with, and he was one of the best to me."

Quilliam said she thinks the change will be good for him, along with her and her partners.

"I think it's going to offer a lot of opportunities because here we can pick cases we really want to work on," she said. "We're much more accountable to ourselves, and we can be more selective, I think. He can do whatever law he wants, litigate as much as he wants. He has a lot of options here, a lot of freedom."

Quilliam focuses on family law, lately doing a lot of probate estate work and advocacy for children. She's been practicing law since 1999.

Tukey has been practicing law since 1996 and is a graduate of Fairfield University and Western New England University.

t.hartz@theday.com

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