One semester before graduating from law school in his native Poland, Peter Bryniczka’s grandfather joined the military. He became an officer, and fought General Rommel in North Africa.
Later, posted to England as a bomber attached to the RAF, he met an American nurse from Maryland. She too was helping the British war effort.
They married, and moved to the States. Peter’s grandfather worked for the Polish Embassy, then for the newly established United Nations in Lake Success, just over the Throgs Neck Bridge.
He commuted from Teaneck, New Jersey, so the Bryniczkas looked for some place closer. They had friends in New Canaan, and talked to a realtor there.
“With a last name like yours, you might be more comfortable in Westport,” she said.
The Bryniczkas bought a house on Greens Farms Road, near Sasco Creek. It was very quiet; I-95 had not yet been completed.
Their son Jan walked to Long Lots Junior High through cornfields. He graduated from Staples High School in 1963, then the University of Connecticut Law School. He was hired by Wake, See & Dimes — one of Westport’s most prestigious firms — and practiced at the 27 Imperial Avenue office for decades. His name too was added, as a partner.
Wake, See, Dimes & Bryniczka merged with the Milford firm Berchem Moses. They opened a Westport office on the Post Road, across from Fortuna’s.
Jan’s son Peter grew up in Westport. He also went to Staples, where he played hockey and baseball, and joined the orchestra. After graduating in 1997, he headed to Wesleyan University. Then — following his father’s footsteps — he went to UConn Law School.
Peter’s interviewed a boutique Cos Cob firm: Schoonmaker, George, Colin & Blomberg. They specialized in divorce law, which Bryniczka thought “sounds horrible.”
But “they were the first lawyers interested in me and my background, not the classes I took,” Bryniczka says. “They were like a little family.”
He appreciated the opportunity to work with people go through difficult life circumstances. The work was never dull. He joined them after passing the bar. He thinks he is the only person from his law school class who — 16 years later — is still with the same firm.
Bryniczka was made a partner in 2013. Last January — just as his father’s had been — his name was added to the firm.
He and his wife Erica have a son (almost 7), and daughter (5). They live less than a mile from Peter’s grandfather’s house. As of this month, Bryniczka no longer commutes every day to Greenwich.
Schoonmaker, George, Colin, Blomberg, Bryniczka & Welsh just opened a Westport office. The idea makes sense: Many clients live in Westport, and nearby towns.
Bryniczka’s new digs are on the 2nd floor of 180 Post Road East. From his window he sees his father’s old office, on Imperial Avenue.
Across Bay Street is Design Within Reach. For decades, that building was the Westport post office. Bryniczka accompanied his father every Saturday to the law firm, then up the short hill to pick up mail. He still remembers the PO Box number: 777.
Peter Bryniczka has many growing-up memories in Westport: buying his first baseball glove at Schaefer’s. The model trains every Christmas in Swezey’s Jewelers Main Street window. Slices at Westport Pizzeria.
Now — in a new era — he is back working a few steps from there. He knows that no one ever wants to hire a family or divorce lawyer, but he is proud to offer those services in his home town.
And who knows? When his children visit him at his office, they too might be inspired to become attorneys.
Decades from now, they may be the third generations of Bryniczkas practicing here. They have a proud tradition to live up to.
And — despite what a New Canaan realtor thought, back in the 1950s — a great name.