UConn Law Assistant Dean Karen L. DeMeola ’96 JD has been confirmed as a judge of the Connecticut Superior Court.
Gov. Ned Lamont nominated DeMeola on March 29. After the state legislature’s Judiciary Committee endorsed the nomination, the state House of Representatives and Senate voted Wednesday to confirm it. She will be sworn in on Thursday, May 4.
After graduating from the UConn School of Law in 1996, DeMeola worked for four years in private practice as a civil right litigator before joining the UConn Law staff. In her 22 years of service at the law school, she filled several roles, including admissions director, assistant dean of students, and assistant dean of finance and administration. In October 2022 UConn Law Dean Eboni S. Nelson appointed her the inaugural assistant dean for diversity, belonging, and community engagement.
DeMeola has been active in many civic and legal organizations, including the Connecticut Bar Association. She was the association’s president in 2017-18, the first person of color to serve in that role. Her accomplishments with the bar association include establishing the Pathways to Legal Careers Pipeline Program and other diversity and pipeline projects. She also was heavily involved in access to justice and pro bono initiatives, and she created the inaugural Lawyer Well Being Taskforce, now a committee, which focuses on the mental health and well-being of lawyers.
On Wednesday, the evening of her confirmation, the Connecticut Bar Association presented DeMeola with the 2023 John Eldred Shields Distinguished Professional Service Award.
“Dean DeMeola has had a profound impact on UConn Law, the legal profession and the legal community in Connecticut and beyond,” Nelson said. “We’re immensely grateful for her decades of service to the law school and wish her the best in what is sure to be an exemplary judicial career.”
Among the many other awards and recognitions that DeMeola has received are the Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity Edwin Archer Randolph Diversity Award, the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund Maria Miller Stewart Award, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities Constance Baker Motley Award for Business and Law, the Connecticut Law Tribune’s Attorney of the Year award, the University of Connecticut Law School Alumni Association Medal of Excellence Award, and the University of Connecticut Spirit Award.
She chaired the Connecticut Legal Rights Project Board of Directors and served on the boards of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association, and the emeritus board of Family Equality. She is also co-chair of the Constance Baker Motley Speaker Series on Racial Inequality, sponsored by the Connecticut Bar Association and Connecticut Bar Foundation. In addition, she served on the Connecticut Access to Justice Commission and the Governor’s Commission on Women and Girls STEAM Subcommittee.
DeMeola joins many UConn Law alumni serving in the Connecticut judiciary. Three other UConn Law graduates were confirmed to the Superior Court on Wednesday. They are Paul R. Doyle ’90, a partner of Kennedy Doyle LLC; Walter A. Menjivar ’12, an assistant attorney general in the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office; and Emily Wagner ’06, an appellate public defender at the Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services.