Alums in the News: UMBC’s Legal Eagles

Our alumni are making headlines! Today, we focus on Retrievers who are making waves in the legal profession.

Travis Bell ’14, political science and psychology, now in his final year at the UCLA School of Law, is one of 14 American law students receiving this year’s Gideon Fellowship. This prestigious award, part of the Gideon’s Promise Law School Partnership Program, is a three-year fellowship that places law school graduates in public defenders’ offices across the Deep South. Bell, who was the Class of 2014 valedictorian, will serve out his fellowship in Montgomery, Alabama.

Yvette Pappoe ’13, sociology, has been named a Law Student of the Year for 2017 by the National Jurist magazine. Pappoe is a third-year student at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, where she is articles editor of the University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender, and Class, a fellow in the Women, Leadership, and Equality Program, and a student attorney in the School to Prison Pipeline legal theory & practice course, to name a few.

Steven Fedder ’72, American studies, is one of The Daily Record’s 2017 Leadership in Law honorees. This award recognizes members of the Maryland legal community who have gone above and beyond in their profession. Fedder is a partner at Fedder & Janofsky LLC, a Baltimore-based firm specializing in trial litigation and employment law.

And finally, the UMBC Mock Trial Team may not have graduated yet (though their head coach Ben Garmoe ’13, political science, is an alum), but they’re taking over UMBC’s Instagram account this weekend to give us a firsthand look at the Opening Round Championship Series! Take a look here, and be sure to wish them luck!

mock trial

Have news of your own? Send us a class note for a future issue of UMBC Magazine!

Career Q&A: Alexander Bush ’09, Political Science

Every once in a while, we’ll chat with an alum about what they do and how they got there. Recently, we caught up with Alexander Bush ’09, political science, a former Humanities Scholar who went on to law school at Pepperdine University in California. In addition to his full-time job as a personal injury attorney in Baltimore, Bush co-hosts Baltimore Barristers, a radio call-in show about legal issues.

profile photoNAME: Alexander A. Bush
JOB TITLE/EMPLOYER: Co-host of the Baltimore Barristers radio show on CBS 1300 AM and Associate Attorney at Ingerman & Horwitz LLP
MAJOR/MINOR: major in History, minors in Political Science and French

How did you decide to go to law school? What has the trajectory of your law career been, leading up to “Baltimore Barristers”?

I’ve learned the importance of career flexibility. My plan at Pepperdine Law was to do death-penalty defense. While I was very pleased that Maryland ended the death penalty soon after my graduation, it did keep me from getting a permanent position with the Public Defender’s Aggravated Homicide Division.

Fortunately, a diploma from UMBC, with its ever increasing reputation and rankings, helped me in the job market.  Since then I [have] accepted a position at Ingerman & Horwitz, the state’s largest workers’ compensation firm, located in Baltimore City. I still get to handle criminal defense cases, but now I specialize in personal injury.

My co-host, Stephen Caramenico, and I came up with the idea for a radio show only about two months ago. We were fortunate to find an opening on 1300AM Tuesdays at 7pm. It has been a challenge balancing a heavy caseload and all the work that goes into the show, but I’m really enjoying it.

As a lawyer, what made you decide to do a radio show? Did you have any experience with the medium prior to breaking into that realm?

My current position as a litigation attorney gets me lots of trial experience, but I also wanted to find a way to incorporate politics and public policy into what I do. Since [my] co-host and I started the Baltimore Barristers in September, we’ve had two state delegates on to discuss proposed changes in the law, and a county council chairman to discuss the future of marijuana dispensaries.

It’s also a good career move given how competitive my field is. You can be the most skilled lawyer in the city, but if no one knows your name, you won’t get any clients.

I had no background in radio before this. It has been quite the learning experience. I’ve been lucky to have a great producer at CBS 1300 AM. I’ve yet to have any major technical slip-up or (my greatest fear) use any fine-inducing salty language on air, so I am feeling confident.

Since CBS 1300AM is mostly a sports talk station, my co-host and I have embraced our sports fan audience with stories on whether fantasy sports sites like FanDuel and DraftKings are gambling (the answer: maybe), Deflategate, and more.

What is it like to answer people’s legal questions?

The first step in doing it empathetically is understanding the vast difference between the public’s perception of the law and what the law actually says. Most of us have our own sense of basic fairness and just assume that’s how the law works. I think having a Master’s in Alternative Dispute Resolution [from Pepperdine’s nationally-recognized Straus Institute] helps me to build rapport and trust with someone even while I’m telling them something they really don’t want to hear about the law.

On the radio, I make it clear that there is no attorney-client relationship (and obviously no confidentiality) in on-air advice. I’ve had to tell callers not to give me any identifying information on the air, and then have spoken to them privately after the show.

What about your experience at UMBC stands out the most to you?

The Humanities Scholars program has had a great positive impact on my life. It provided me with a small, supportive community and was the impetus for a lot of great experiences like study abroad, funded research, and a living-learning community dorm. But it was more than just the program[.] [The] whole culture of UMBC worked for me. Being a nerd (in my case, a history and law nerd) is cool here.

I also had a number of great professors with whom I’ve been lucky to have lasting relationships, but especially Dr. George LaNoue, who taught my constitutional law courses and gave me a lot of great advice while applying to law schools. While I was at Pepperdine, Dr. LaNoue and I co-authored a paper on 1st Amendment issues with internal review boards, which we presented at a conference at Cambridge in the UK.

Knowing what you know now, what would you tell a brand new UMBC student?

There are a lot of opportunities to take advantage of, so start planning early. Give yourself time in the beginning to try new experiences, but once you’ve found what you like, go for it!

For me, it was a study abroad in Cameroon and France that I was able to tie into research in the UK, which then led to presenting my research at URCAD. That was a great experience, especially for an undergrad who wouldn’t usually have an opportunity like that.

You can listen to past Baltimore Barristers podcasts here.

Sondheim Scholars Happy Hour Recap

On Thursday, August 7, Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program alumni got together for a sunny, harbor-side happy hour at The Boathouse in Canton. Alumni from class years 2003-2014 shared stories about the program, professional and personal updates, and made new connections. The Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program supports talented undergraduates aspiring to careers in public service in a wide variety of fields including government, law, non-profit leadership, education, and the private sector. The program honors Walter Sondheim, a champion of Baltimore’s renewal, a business leader, and an advocate for public education. As suggested by the program’s mission, Sondheim Scholars serve the public in many ways. Alumni at the August 7 happy hour included lawyers, educators, policy analysts, government staff, political campaigners, non-profit professionals, and graduate students. Thanks for coming out, Sondheim alumni, and look for your next opportunity to connect at UMBC Homecoming!

Learn more about the Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program.

Courting Controversy: Robin L. West ’76

Are rulings by judges the best way to settle hot-button social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion? Maybe not, argues Georgetown University law professor and UMBC alumna Robin L. West ’76, philosophy.

Read more in the Fall 2010 issue of UMBC Magazine

Double Threat: Donna Lewis ’86

Donna Lewis ’86, English, leads a double life. She earned her law degree at the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore and is currently an attorney with the Department of Homeland Security after 12 years in private sector litigation.

Read more in the Summer 2009 issue of UMBC Magazine