A Prominent ProjectRoss Handler '14, an attorney involved in the Time’s Up movement, began building his professional network at Muhlenberg.
By: Brittany Risher Friday, May 3, 2019 11:01 AM
Photos by Joshua Fernandez
Ross Handler '14 had been with the law firm Buckley LLP for about a year and a half when he got the email from Tina Tchen, a partner at the firm who’d served as an advisor to President Barack Obama and chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama: She was seeking attorneys to help with an upcoming high-profile project. That project turned out to be the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, an initiative to help victims of workplace sexual misconduct co-founded by Tchen and housed under the National Women’s Law Center.
As part of the project, Handler, who’s based in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office, triages cases, classifies them and connects claimants with attorneys. Sometimes, people submit a claim with insufficient details, so he calls them for more. “That's never a short phone call, nor should it be,” he says. “That's when the floodgates open up and the emotions open up, and you have a two-hour conversation with someone who's been mistreated for many, many years.”
Handler's journey toward his rewarding legal career began on his childhood block in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where three Muhlenberg alumni couples also reside. They convinced Handler to check out the College, where he became an international studies and Spanish double major, graduating magna cum laude. “My professors were the first who showed me I could marry my interest in comparative politics and international affairs with law,” he says.
And Pat Fligge ’10, director of alumni and parent engagement in Muhlenberg's Career Center, helped Handler prepare for law school and career fairs. “You can go in and see people not in suits, people not in ties, people who look like they woke up 10 minutes ago and rolled in expecting a job,” Handler says. “The professional development at Muhlenberg taught me that a first impression is what people will think of you long after your first meeting.”
He also was active in the Cardinal Key Society, becoming president his senior year. “It was my way of meeting alumni and attorneys, figuring out what law firms wanted and where to go to law school, and it provided me with countless contacts that I stay in touch with to this day,” he says. “Meeting alumni showed me that it's a four-year experience but a lifelong commitment. When you leave, Muhlenberg will have your back, and I'm there for them too.”
Today he's the Washington, D.C., chair for the College’s Alumni Association and often attends Muhlenberg law dinners in the city. “People think of Muhlenberg and think it's a small college, but the alumni base is large,” he says. “Outside of that campus, alumni have the resources and desire to help you do whatever you want to do.”