Spartan Lawyer

Winter 2017

Spartan Law Alumni Solve National Issues in the Capital

Federal agencies protect the American way of life by preventing crime, addressing community health issues, regulating public utilities, and more. Many Spartans in Washington, DC serve their country by playing key roles in these government institutions. Here are a few of our graduates who are making a difference at the national level.



Darren Fernandez, ’14, works in Washington, DC, for the Federal Communications Commission, where he is involved in FCC broadcast licensing regulation and compliance.

"At the FCC, I am in the Media Bureau’s Video Division,” said Fernandez, “where I am responsible for ensuring that broadcast licensees comply with the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and the various FCC broadcast rules and regulations.”

In addition, Fernandez helps review major broadcast transactions, like the Sinclair/Tribune merger. I love my job,” said Fernandez, “because I enjoy public service work and serving the people of the United States.”



As a Contract Specialist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Ndidi Okeagu, Esq., ‘14, performs a variety of contract work that deals with groundbreaking research.

"NIDA’s mission is to advance science on the causes and consequences of drug use and addiction and to apply that knowledge to improve individual and public health,” said Okeagu. “I am grateful to work for a federal agency that is actively improving the lives of thousands through groundbreaking research.”

Recently, Okeagu received the Director’s Award of Merit for her role as the lead specialist in handling the largest fiscal contract in her branch. She shared the honor with other members of the NIDA Path Study team.

The best part of the award ceremony for me was hearing the story of a prior drug addict who has been drug free for 20 years and how NIDA’s research aided in her recovery and the raising of her son,” said Okeagu. “Hearing testimonies like that reminds me that my job is more than numbers, memos, or accolades.”



Martin Peters, ’09, works as Counsel at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals for the Department of Veterans Affairs. For Peters, this job is also a personal cause.

“Both of my grandfathers were veterans, so when I heard about the Veterans Affairs program though the MSU Law’s DC externship program, I was very interested,” said Peters. “I went to law school knowing I wanted to work in a non-profit or federal government, so this is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Peters started as an extern in the Department but he received an offer for full-time employment before he graduated from MSU Law in January 2009.

I’m living proof that the DC externship works,” said Peters. I’m serving the nation’s veterans. They serve their country, and the best thing is that I get to serve them when they come home.”

Every day I do research, writing, and a lot of administrative law,” said Peters. “The job actually combines all of my degrees to a certain extent. I deal with history, medicine, and law on a daily basis.”



Philip Yoo, ’11, works for FEMA in the recovery legal division of the public assistance division.

Instead of choosing the traditional field of litigation or transactional work, I chose to work in emergency management,” Yoo said. “This job affords me opportunities to utilize all of my previous skills to execute my job.” In this role, I provide legal advice for work during and immediately after a major disaster,” Yoo said.

He assists states, Indian tribes, local governments, and certain private nonprofits in responding to and recovering from major disasters or emergencies. For instance, Yoo helps local governments understand the eligibility requirements to receive recovery aid, which means helping communities rebuild.

"The best part of my job is using my legal degree to provide advice related to implementing the agency’s mission of responding to and recovering from major disasters.” said Yoo. “In this aspect, I am allowed to be creative in operational issues within my legal analysis. Every day I know I help my country and those impacted by all natural and man-made threats.”



Molly Braese (Etkind), ’13, helps prevent crime nationwide in her work for the Office of Enforcement Operations within the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. My job allows me to work with Assistant United States Attorneys across the country and help them develop criminal cases against gangs, criminal organizations, and transnational narcotics smugglers, among others,” said Etkind. “Successful wiretaps have led to the seizure of millions of dollars in drug money, large amounts of all types of narcotics and firearms, and the indictments and convictions of gang members, drug smugglers, and corrupt politicians.”

Her office works mainly on issues pertaining to electronic surveillance (wiretaps) and video surveillance. The department also provides legal advice to federal, state, and local enforcement agencies.

A highlight of my job is hearing about the success of a particular wiretap and how the related investigation is progressing. We work on a lot of emerging technology and telecommunications issues,” said Etkind. “The fast-paced nature of our work allows us to stay on top of legal, policy, and technology matters affecting the area of electronic surveillance, end-to-end encryption, and other issues.”