Extracurriculars Spark Alum's Legal & Entrepreneurial Career
“I never intended to major in political science when I accepted my spot at UMass,” says Morris Singer ’06. “I went from taking one political science class to the next before discovering my passion for the subject matter and for the opportunities that exist to carry my education beyond the classroom.”
It was exactly that ability to go beyond the classroom – to apply theory to practice – that made Political Science so appealing to Singer. Indeed, Singer’s college resume boasts a long list of extracurriculars including writing for the Collegian, serving as the communications director for a Governors’ Council race, and being elected to Amherst Town Meeting. “I was able to leverage the synergy that exists between academics and practical experience, to get more out of my education than I would have anywhere else,” he says.
Those extracurriculars eventually led Singer to found Danaus Media, a business which developed web-based software for the labor movement and for political organizations. “I started the business because in 2005 I was working as the communications director on a political campaign in western Massachusetts, and, among other things, worked very closely with the campaign's website contractor,” he reflects. “Through that business, I had the good fortune of building web-based software for all kinds of labor organizations, including small local unions, regional labor councils, state federations, and international labor organizations.”
Though he admits he never expected to run his own business, he kept the software business up as he pursued his law degree. After graduating from Suffolk Law and passing the bar, he entered the public defender’s office, an “emotionally taxing and rewarding” experience. “I saw that a lot of the clients I worked with did not have strong family and community supports. Most of them did not have a single person they could identify as a role model. My job was to solve their legal problems, and at the same time, connect them with community resources that could unlock their future potential,” he says.
Although Singer had closed his software business to focus on his work as a public defender, his entrepreneurial spark was never truly extinguished. He spent his spare time reflecting on and trying to solve some of the hardships in his practice. Eventually, his energy focused on one seemingly systemic issue: the difficulty involved in locating and hiring expert witnesses for the more than 145,000 jury trials and millions of bench trials and other hearings each year. For Singer, the answer to this problem seemed clear: the legal profession needed an agency to connect trial attorneys with specialized expert witnesses. As an entrepreneur and lawyer, Singer was in a unique position to found such a business, so he started ForensicMatch and again began a career as an entrepreneur.
Singer, who is currently Chief Executive Officer of ForensicMatch, says his new company allows him to showcase his unique skill-set. “I am a trial lawyer who understands the nuances of my clients' cases,” he says. “This makes me more suited to run my business than my competitors. There is value in my unique contribution, and I can pass that value on to my clients.” He encourages others to similarly look for their unique contribution as they progress through school and the workforce. “Whether pursuing a career in law, business, or anything else, never be afraid to embrace the qualities that make you unique, and to figure out how you can draw on those qualities to help others,” he says.
Moreover, be honest about your limitations and “figure out what it takes to push beyond them.” Singer, for instance, was once scared of public speaking. However, once elected to the Amherst Town Meeting, he had to face that fear in order to be effective. Similarly, he never thought he had what it took to run his own business, but when he suddenly had to support himself from that business, he knew he had to seek out opportunities to learn more about how to create, market, sell, and deliver a product. “I realized, at every turn, that for whatever I was trying to accomplish, I had some of what it takes, but had to learn the rest. I think every successful person has been in that situation.”
This constant need to learn and grown in order to succeed and to be open to new opportunities was, in some ways, instilled in Singer through his extracurricular activities. His involvement in a political campaign was sparked by discussions of state and local politics in Political Science courses. That campaign work led to his first business, and that business supported his legal career. The student organizations, volunteer work, and professional opportunities available to UMass students are endless, and those experiences are critical preparation for a successful career. “There are very few limits to what you can do with your time at UMass if you are creative and energized to get the most from your education,” Singer says. “I came to UMass Amherst because of the value, and I learned by being here that it was about much more than that. At a school this large, you have to make your own way, or you might get lost. But, at the same time, the size means that there are opportunities in every corner of the University.” All students have to do is be open to them.
You can learn more about Singer’s career path and current profession by following him on Twitter @morrissinger.