Paul J. KnierimCounsel
Disputes related to probate, wills and trusts, and eldercare concerns are some of the most emotionally charged conflicts that individuals and families go through. At the heart of these disagreements lie deeply personal issues related to family, independence, security and relationships. Fortunately, despite the emotional nature of these issues, it's often possible to reach resolution without resorting to litigation.
That's where Attorney Paul Knierim, a retired probate judge, comes in. As the head of our dispute resolution practice, he brings unparalleled problem-solving strategies to bear on even the most complex of issues. Dispute resolution is a voluntary process designed to help parties achieve a mutually beneficial settlement that ends a disagreement in a faster manner and at far less expense than a typical court case.
Paul's experience includes more than two decades of service in the judiciary. After 10 years as judge of the Simsbury Probate Court, the Chief Justice appointed Paul to lead the state’s Probate Courts as Probate Court Administrator, a role he served from 2008 to 2019.
Paul’s experience as a lawyer and judge is enormously valuable to his clients, but it's his ability to bring a sense of calm to tense situations and his skill in facilitating creative solutions that make him so good as a mediator. A problem-solver with deep knowledge of probate law and keen insight into family dynamics, Paul provides objective and practical guidance to help families resolve their conflicts quickly, cost effectively, and with as little drama as possible.
During his 11 years as head of the Probate Court system, Paul was responsible for policy leadership and operation of all 54 of the state’s Probate Courts. For the significant contributions during his tenure as PCA, he was recently awarded the Treat Award for Excellence - the highest national award given by the National College of Probate Judges. Among his many accomplishments as Probate Court Administrator, he
- Resolved decades-long debate over court reform by building consensus among judges, executive branch officials, legislators and municipal leaders.
- Enacted stronger judicial ethics codes, expanded continuing education for judges and court staff, won passage of legislation to modernize probate law and overhauled the rules of procedure that govern probate cases.
- Established better support and oversight for conservators through free online training, legally binding standards of practice and random audits.
- Launched numerous initiatives to strengthen the professionalism of the Probate Courts, streamline court procedures and improve the customer experience.
- Expanded availability of social work staff to assist judges making decisions in child welfare cases.
- He served as Simsbury probate judge for 10 years.
- He practiced law in the areas of estate planning, probate, and family business at two Greater Hartford firms.
- He served 3 terms as State Representative in the General Assembly, where he was assistant minority leader and ranking member of the Education Committee.
Paul and his husband, Greg, have been together 25 years and have 10 nieces and nephews and 3 great nieces and nephews. Outside of work, they enjoy time at the Connecticut shoreline where their favorite thing to do is boating . . . be it by sail, power, or paddle. Paul has worked on classic boat restorations and claims to be a pretty good woodworker. He is an avid runner and likes to hike Connecticut trails with Greg and their rescue dog.What He Does
- Dispute resolution in these areas:
- Challenges to the validity of wills and trusts
- Issues with estate administration and executor performance
- Gifts and other lifetime property transfers
- Trusts management and trustee performance problems
- Disputes over conservatorship and elder care
- Power of attorney problems
- Contested guardianship of children
- Probate and Elder Law litigation
- Estate Planning
- Treat Award for Excellence recipient 2019, National College of Probate Judges,
- CT Bar Association, Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award
- JD, Yale Law School, 1989
- BA, Williams College, summa cum laude, 1986
- AARP, Capitol Caregiver Award recipient
- Member, CT Bar – Estate and Probate section, Elder Law section, Opioid Task Force
- Connecticut Bar Foundation
- Connecticut Probate Assembly (Emeritus)
- National College of Probate Judges
- Member, Elder Justice Coalition
- Vice President, Simsbury Cemetery Association
- Tutor, Literacy Volunteers Greater Hartford
- Trustee, Simsbury Land Trust
- Simsbury Town meeting moderator
- Trustee, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation
- State Representative, CT General Assembly
- Co-Chair, Governor’s Commission on School Choice
- Frequent speaker at continuing education programs for judges, attorneys and other professional groups, including:
- Business and Estate Planning Council of Central Connecticut
- State and local bar associations
- Connecticut Hospital Association
- Domestic Violence Task Force
- Elder Justice Conference
- National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Connecticut chapter
- Connecticut Probate Assembly
- Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants
- Western Area Agency on Aging
- UConn and Yale Law Schools
- Numerous presentations before General Assembly committees on legislation affecting seniors, persons with disabilities, children and probate law. Some recent examples:
- Selected articles:
- Op-Ed: Probate Courts are a Good Value, Connecticut Law Tribune, July 2016
- Op-Ed: Probate Courts Protect Vulnerable Citizens from Harm, The Hartford Courant, January 2012
- Probate Court Consolidation Yields Cost Savings and Strengthens Professionalism, Fairfield County Bar Association Newsletter, April 2011