Miriam Fisher '85 is a nationally recognized expert on federal tax controversy. She’s a partner in the DC office of Latham & Watkins, one of the country’s largest law firms. She’s handled cases involving everything from historic preservation easements to the use of independent contractors. She's chaired American Bar Association committees, taught at Georgetown Law, graduated first in her class at Loyola College and is the youngest of eight children.
And, as she will tell you with great pride, she is also part of what she calls a Maryland Carey Law dynasty. It includes her husband Larry Yumkas '88, her father-in-law Charles Yumkas '57, her brother Charles Fisher, Jr. '69, her niece Maura Fisher '94 and, most important of all, her late father Charles O. Fisher '47. "Dad was ‘a country lawyer' and 'general practitioner,'" Fisher says. For 65 years he handled real estate, zoning, probate, banking, trusts and estates, litigation and business law cases for the growing community of Westminster, MD, all as a partner at Walsh & Fisher. "He was an awesome guy,” Fisher exclaims. "As a micro-specialist by comparison, I find the breadth of his experience and knowledge of the law breathtaking."
Fisher attributes her professional success to her father, an enduring professional inspiration, and to her mother, who somehow managed to convince each of her eight children that he or she was her favorite. Despite the family’s legal dynasty, Fisher double majored in French and political science as an undergraduate, intent on a career in international relations. She was a senior when her advisor suggested she go to law school first as a way of differentiating herself from all the other Foreign Service applicants.
Like many first-year law students, she wanted to specialize in litigation. Her professional epiphany didn’t come until her third year of law school, when two of her sister’s best friends from college, Paula Junghans '76, now of Zuckerman and Spader, and Paige Marvel '74, now a U.S. Tax Court judge, offered her a part-time job at a small boutique firm. "I discovered I was born to do tax controversy," Fisher says. "I loved it then. I love it now. It touches every aspect of life and an enormous swath of the population." Fisher has a diverse client base, which gives her the chance to learn about science, finance, business. "Every case is its own unique story and educational experience," she observes.
In 2001, Judge Marvel, her mentor, friend and a member of Maryland Carey Law's Board of Visitors approached Fisher about joining the Board. She'd been out of touch with the law school since she’d graduated 15 years before. But after considerable thought, she accepted the invitation, got engaged and has been "hooked ever since," as she puts it.
She is still an active member and in 2007 established the Charles O. Fisher Leadership Scholarship as a gift to her father on his 90th birthday. "After joining the Board I decided that the law school would be my primary philanthropy. I wanted to create an endowed scholarship that would not only honor my father but educate young lawyers to carry on his values."
The law is "a profession and privilege," Fisher told a room full of faculty, alumni and Maryland Carey Law Leadership Scholars last year, "treat it accordingly…As Charles Fisher’s daughter, it’s easy for me to regard the legal profession as noble. As his story so aptly illustrates, the practice of law is much more than a job; it’s a commitment to serve and advocate for the interests of others."