Richard is a native of Windsor. His parents moved here in June of 1955. He was born in Windsor, attended Clover Street School, L.P Wilson Middle School, and graduated from Windsor High School in 1981. He attended UCONN and went on to Western New England University School of Law. Richard says “While I enjoyed college, I found myself coming to Windsor frequently to see hometown friends at our usual local haunts like Bart’s, Italian Corner and Jim’s Pizza."
Richard had his first exposure to law as a possible career when taking a business course taught by Mr. North at Windsor High School. The subject matter captivated his interest, more than any of his other classes. He did well in the class, but thought nothing more of it until taking another business law course in college. He enjoyed the challenge of untangling discussion problems involving different legal principles. It was at this point that he realized his interest in the law was something he should pursue as a career.
While in law school, he served two years on the Western New England Law Review, (a student-run publication of scholarly articles authored by respected professors and attorneys as well as student-authored work), first as a Staff Member then as the Managing Editor. He received his Juris Doctor degree in 1989, and that same year was admitted to the Connecticut bar.
He began his legal career working for the Connecticut Judicial Department in the Hartford Courts as a courtroom clerk working with criminal court judges and serving as courtroom clerk for criminal trials. While there, he so impressed the head clerk, that she recommended him to a local attorney who offered him his first job as a practicing attorney. The position was with the Law Offices of Stephen C. Barron in East Hartford. He worked there for six years doing litigation and general practice work until he formed an independent partnership with another lawyer in Suffield. After a few years, he decided it was time to come home to Windsor and joined the firm of O’Malley, Deneen.
Finding a lawyer that you can work with and who listens to your concerns can be a challenge. Unlike many in his field, Richard tends to connect with people on a personal level and empathize with them. “What really keeps me going is the opportunity to help people who are going through a difficult time. I like being able to use my knowledge and experience to put their minds at ease and handle the complexities of the law for them so they can get on with their lives,” says Richard.
And he has seen it all. Once, he worked with an older gentleman who, along with his cancer-stricken wife, was being evicted by the bank which had foreclosed on their single family home. This was the home that his wife had grown up in, and where together they had raised their family. The couple were in a difficult spot, needing to travel for cancer and dialysis treatments multiple times each week, and needed to find alternative affordable housing at the same time. Without the right lawyer, they would have found themselves quickly evicted. The pair had very little, financially, so Attorney Vassallo represented them at a reduced rate and controlled the pace of the proceedings to allow them time to find a new home where they could live out what was left of their days in peace.
On a personal note, Richard has two children, both attending UCONN as we speak. “I love being able to bring my daughters to work and show them that the law can be a great equalizer,” says Richard. His daughters, Anna and Julia, both take after their father as far as analytical thinking goes. That may be where the resemblance ends, if you ask them.
Richard is a strong supporter of his community, offering his time and expertise to various non-profit projects. He feels that Windsor is welcoming to people of all backgrounds. It has the benefits of a small town yet still offers the diversity that sustains a great community. He has been a member of the Windsor Chamber of Commerce for twelve years and was one of the founders of the Windsor Education Foundation, a grassroots non-profit organization that raises funds to provide grants to Windsor teachers.
When he’s not at work, he enjoys taking on substantial home renovation projects like the new custom bathroom he added to the lower level of his home. He also enjoys restoring his "project car”, a 1977 MGB that is, as Richard says, “many parts and labor hours away from being remotely considered ready for the road."
Three words that describe Richard: Educated. Experienced. Compassionate.