2016 Honors Attorneys
Left to Right: Chris Cialeo, Diana Truong, Dillon Taylor, Sarah Yousaf, Mark Montgomery, Michael Deutsch, Andrew Bridson, Safiya Hamit, Chris Jennison and Beth Ebersole.
Andrew D. Bridson graduated from Northeastern University School of Law. He obtained a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Andrew’s experience includes working at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission, U.S. Senate, and the University of Southern California's Undergraduate Admissions and Enrollment Services.
The DOT’s Honors Attorney Program has been an excellent combination of practical legal training and substantive legal work. During my first year in the Program, I completed rotations at in the Office of the General Counsel, the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA), and the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Each opportunity provided unique experiences, including attending meetings with senior officials, reviewing multimillion-dollar Federal grant programs, and implementing energy regulatory changes. The mentorship of senior attorneys and the willingness to allow Honors Attorneys to delve into complex matters has fostered a supportive environment for growth. No matter what your intellectual interests may be, there is something for you at DOT!
During my time as a DOT Honors Attorney, I gained diverse legal experience, an extensive professional network, and a broader understanding of the role that attorneys play within a cabinet agency. I was constantly exposed to a wide array of legal questions and challenges, many of which were incredible opportunities that most new attorneys never have the chance to even contemplate. For example, I had the opportunity to observe and work with the U.S. Solicitor General’s office on multiple cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court in which the DOT was a party. Throughout every rotation, I was surrounded by talented and committed attorneys who were always willing to share their time and experience with me, which is an incredible gift for a burgeoning attorney.
I had no transportation background as I came to DOT, but looking back on my time as an Honors Attorney, I could not have imagined a better way to start out my legal career. I was given enormous opportunity but also challenged from day one, and encouraged by my supervisors to take on increasingly difficult tasks. I was exposed to and involved in litigation practice at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), dealt with enforcement and regulation of safety programs at Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and have directly negotiated with counsel for major regulated entities while in the DOT General Counsel’s office. I even got to work with constitutional law questions at PHMSA, something I never thought many lawyers get the chance to do and certainly not in their first year of practice. The teams in each office are also incredibly supportive and make you a part of their families for your four month stints. The Honors Attorney Program has equipped me with the skills and confidence I need to be a successful lawyer.
The DOT Honors Attorney Program is diverse and unique in terms of experiences, practice areas, agencies, and personalities. The structure of the program, in which we complete four-month rotations in each agency, allows us to explore a wide range of practice areas, spanning from intellectual property to procurement law. During my first year in the program, I rotated through the Office of the General Counsel, Office of General Law, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In each rotation, I took on significant responsibility and worked extensively with my clients on various matters, such as administering a trademark program and approving joint development projects. And even though other Honors Attorneys have rotated through the same agencies, no two experiences have been alike due to the unpredictable nature of the work assigned. In addition to the diverse practice areas and unique experiences, as an Honors Attorney, I have had the honor and the pleasure to work alongside people from all walks of life—some of whom have become my closest friends. The DOT Honors Attorney Program has been a wonderful jumpstart to my legal career, and I will be forever grateful for this life-changing experience.
After completing the first year of the program, I look back with enjoyment and excitement to see how many people I’ve worked with and how many awesome assignments I’ve had the chance to participate in. I’ve had the opportunity to rotate through NTSB, FRA, and the Office of the Secretary. In each rotation, I was immediately welcomed into the team, and given substantive assignments from the start. The program offers the chance for new attorneys to become highly involved in issues of national importance, which is incredibly valuable and unique for those coming straight out of law school. I can’t say enough good things about the program and its leadership.
I exited law school having only worked in the non-profit, environmental justice ream. I knew that all the modes of DOT shared environmental law practices to some extent—and I applied to the honors program thinking that I would silo myself with a portfolio in that area. However, after three rotations, I am staggered by the breadth of legal practice areas within DOT and, more importantly, my passion for areas of the law that I didn’t even know existed. Through my rotation at FTA, for example, I developed an appreciation for safety regulations and Hatch Act enforcement. At FAA, I astonishingly fell in love with appropriations law and bid protest litigation. And through my rotation in the litigation division in the Office of General Counsel, I came to thoroughly enjoy motions practice, civil procedure, and brief writing. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to become a DOT Honors Attorney.
My experience as a DOT Honors Attorney has been incredible and has exceeded all expectations. In my first year of the Program, I have completed rotations at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Office of the General Counsel, Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Throughout my rotations, I have been tasked with substantive and challenging assignments in a wide range of legal subject areas, such as enforcement of consumer protection and Federal safety regulations. I have also participated in an inspection of rail equipment for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and traveled with the “Go Team” at the NTSB to the site of a major accident investigation. I am so grateful for my experience as a DOT Honors Attorney and cannot imagine a more exciting way to have spent my first year as an attorney.
I have loved my experience in DOT’s Honors Attorney Program because it provided exposure to several legal practice areas (like contract law, enforcement, regulatory law, and adjudications) and many working environments. This is invaluable information to have before making a final decision on what field and office to permanently work in, one of the key benefits of the Honors Attorney Program. In addition, during the program, we have the freedom to grow and gain confidence in different practice areas without the burden or pressure of being in permanent positions. Our four-month rotations are the perfect amount of time to obtain sufficient subject matter knowledge to speak intelligently about specific legal issues affecting the modal administration or the Department. Although some experiences confirmed practice areas that I do not like, I have also been surprised at the areas that I’ve really enjoyed that were not previously on my radar. I consider myself fortunate to have been accepted into such a prestigious and worthwhile program. My rotations in the first year included the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Maritime Administration (MARAD), and the Office of the General Counsel, Office of Regulations.
Being in DOT’s Honors Attorney Program has been the best professional decision of my life. I completed rotations at the Office of Inspector General, Office of the General Counsel, and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. At each rotation, I met talented and caring attorneys, some of whom were former honors attorneys, who took the time to supervise and mentor me. I worked in multi-disciplinary teams that included auditors, economists, engineers, medical staff, special investigators, and policy officials. The office environment at each rotation has been extremely flexible: teleworking, reserved days off, and flex time has been encouraged. I have developed relationships and connections across the department, both at headquarters and field offices. The honors attorney weekly lunches, fieldtrips, and relationships have been a great support as I started my new life as an attorney in DC. Above all, the flexibility to move to different administrations within DOT, try out different practice areas (adjudications, regulations, enforcement, employment litigation, general law, environmental law, and tribal law), and work with a variety of professionals has been an invaluable experience at the start of my legal career.