Adaptability serves Stewart Feldman, ’80, well. As a law student, he always studied at the same table in the Reading Room—until the persistent jackhammering from construction of the Allan and Alene Smith Law Library addition forced him to cross the room.
“We always thank the library addition for our introduction,” says Marla Matz Feldman, BS ’78, DDS ’82, who had long studied on the opposite side.
Professionally, Stewart’s business training at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and his legal training at Michigan gave him the adaptability to embrace career opportunities. He is CEO and general counsel of Capstone Associated Services Ltd., a captive insurance services provider; managing partner of Feldman Law Firm LLP; and founder of RSL Funding LLC, a structured settlement funding company. Earlier in his career, he developed office parks, and owned and operated a new car dealership and an auto parts distributor. He was a CPA before law school, then briefly practiced in a large law firm before entering the business world. “Whether a student ends up in business or in an advisory role as a lawyer, investment banker, or consultant, there are benefits of broad exposure in both business and law,” Stewart says.
The Feldmans previously supported scholarships, the Law School Fund, and the South Hall building project. Their recent gifts to the Zell Entrepreneurship and Law (ZEAL) program will help today’s students get the integrated educational experience that the couple had to navigate for themselves. Marla—who practiced dentistry for 18 years before focusing on her family and community—recalls sneaking into a business law class as a pre-dentistry student. Stewart, who taught intermediate accounting at the business school while a law student, says that the lack of clear crossover opportunities between the two schools was detrimental to students. “I’ve had a longstanding belief that real-world problems present themselves independent of the silos that formal education provides. Education in only one area—either law or business—leaves you with one hand tied behind your back.”
When the Feldmans found out that Sam Zell, ’66, provided lead funding for the ZEAL program, that sealed the deal, says Stewart, who recalls hearing him speak at the Drexel Burnham “Predators’ Ball” in 1988. “Marla and I see our gifts to ZEAL as a great way to support the University and our beliefs about the importance of a holistic approach to education. It’s an approach that produces better leaders in both law and business.” —AS