trial experience

CT considers loosening qualifications to run for attorney general

Connecticut’s unusual requirement that a lawyer have a decade of “active practice” in the state to run for attorney general would be changed to six years of practice under a bill promoted Wednesday by Rep. Matt Blumenthal, D-Stamford.

Blumenthal was admitted to the Connecticut bar six years ago and will be one year short of the currently required decade in 2026, the next scheduled election for attorney general and other statewide constitutional offices.

“I guess I want to know who really benefits by reducing the years from 10 to six,” Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco, R-Wolcott, asked Blumenthal at a committee meeting. “Can you explain why we’re doing that?”

Blumenthal, a Yale law school graduate who is a trial lawyer with Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, did not mention that the change also would qualify him to run, should Attorney General William Tong seek another office.

“Currently, under our statute … attorneys of all sorts are excluded, regardless of their actual level of experience,” he replied. “There are individuals who have been engaged primarily in federal practice. Currently, they do not qualify.”

The bill was endorsed Wednesday by the Government Administration and Elections Committee, which Blumenthal co-chairs, and sent to the floor of the House. 

Blumenthal said he took up the statute at the request of leadership.

House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said the chiefs of staff for the House Democratic and Republican caucuses asked that the definition of a practicing law be clarified, but the proposed six-year standard was Blumenthal’s decision.

The unusual requirements to run for AG have been ripe for review since 2010, when the state Supreme Court rocked the Connecticut political world by concluding that the “active practice” of law meant experience as a trial lawyer.

The unanimous decision overturned a lower court decision and disqualified Susan Bysiewicz in

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