County attorneys resign to open practice together Bowersox, Ostrander form partnership

September 29, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Two assistant Carroll County attorneys have resigned to go into private practice together.

Former Assistant County Attorneys Brian M. Bowersox and Michelle Ostrander, who resigned from Carroll County government Monday afternoon, expect to open the offices of their newly formed partnership Nov. 1.

"The main reason is, this offers opportunities for growth," said Ms. Ostrander, an assistant county attorney for three years. "I have enjoyed working for the county and have learned a lot, but it is time in my career to move on from government service.

"We hope we can be some service to the community and make a living at the same time."

Mr. Bowersox, who joined the county attorney's office at about the same time, said, "It's always been my plan to go into private practice. With the experience I've had, coupled with the county representation, I should be able to better serve the people who come to me."

Mr. Bowersox worked for two years for the Westminster law firm then known as Johnson, Parker and Hess before joining the county in 1990. He received his degree from the University of Baltimore Law School in 1988 and graduated from Gettysburg (Pa.) College in 1982.

Ms. Ostrander was a trial lawyer for the city of New Orleans and represented its Sewerage and Water Board for 10 years before moving to Carroll County when her husband was transferred to Maryland with USF & G Insurance.

She is a 1980 graduate of the Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans and received her undergraduate degree in political science and history from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1976.

"I was lucky enough to find this job here," she said. "It enabled me to get a crash course in everything that is going on in Carroll County and in Maryland. It was invaluable for someone coming from another jurisdiction."

Carroll County Attorney Charles W. Thompson Jr. declined to comment on the resignations.

"I wish them both a lot of success," said Carroll County Commissioner Julia W. Gouge. "They have been good employees and have done their jobs well.

"Anyone who would want to be their own boss and start their own business, I give a lot of credit and hope they will be very successful."

Ms. Gouge said she expected both positions to be filled but did not know how long it would take to find the attorneys' replacements.

"[Filling the positions] would be my vote up front," she said. "The attorneys in our offices have very specific issues that they have to deal with, and they are hired to deal with those issues."

Ms. Ostrander has been primarily responsible for legislative issues, Ms. Gouge said. The commissioner said Mr. Bowersox, whose position is technically paid for by the state, represents the county on state issues through the Department of Social Services.

In addition to working with DSS on county cases involving neglected and abused children, he has worked with the county liquor board and the zoning administrator.

The Ostrander-Bowersox law office, in downtown Westminster, initially will be a general practice, the attorneys said. Eventually, they would like to represent citizens appearing before county boards and agencies.

"We have a lot of experience in the county and its administrative procedures," Ms. Ostrander said. "We'd like to use some of that in the community."

The legal code of professional responsibility, as well as Carroll County regulations, prevents them from taking cases that involve issues either of them worked on for the county.

"Because Brian and I are partners, if I can't take [a case], he can't take it," Ms. Ostrander said. "There is a one-year prohibition [on working on county issues], but that's not significantly different than what normally exists in our profession."

The two decided to open a practice together because they are a "good mix personally and professionally," Mr. Bowersox said.

"We get along, are compatible and think about things in much the same way," he said. "Her kids love my kids, and our spouses like each other. Our families get along."

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