Few people trace the trajectory of their life back to high school, but Radiance Walters Harris ’02 will never forget postponing a 9th grade history assignment until the evening before it was due, then struggling through the night to complete her work by the deadline. That indelible experience instilled such diligent study skills — she never again waited until the last minute — that classmates teased that “Radiance probably completed the assignment two weeks ahead of time.” More than a decade later, armed with skills and discipline developed during her Bullis years, she has gone on to a career as a leading attorney in the intellectual property field.
Bullis basketball coach Wayne Ferrell — a neighbor and family friend — put the school on the Walters family’s radar with a campus tour. Radiance enrolled, interested in rigorous academics and the opportunity to play for the award-winning coach, whose daughter Erin Ferrell ’01 also played basketball at Bullis. The basketball connection proved invaluable. Radiance forged lifelong friendships during the years when Bullis basketball ranked in the Top 5 in USA Today. The team was inducted into the Bullis Hall of Fame in 2009 and Radiance remains best friends today with former teammate Alyssa McCoy ’02.
As a student, Radiance learned that if she could write, she could write her own ticket in life. Her love for language developed under English teacher Michael Hibbs, described as her favorite teacher, who inspired her passion for reading, writing, and interpreting. “I loved the books he chose for us. They were very diverse in perspective and interesting and I remember always writing a weekly paper in his class,” says Radiance, who felt challenged to think differently and improve her writing. “In college, I became an English and religion double major. Being in Mr. Hibbs’ class sparked a joy, a passion for writing which has continued throughout my life.”
“At Bullis,” shares Radiance, “I was about basketball and getting good grades.” Meeting the attorney father of an AAU teammate — someone passionate about his career, financially secure, kind, and generous — Radiance decided at 15 to become a lawyer. All interests, passions, and drive from that point forward were directed at developing the foundation needed to enter law school and create a career as “a big time lawyer,” she says.
Radiance selected Swarthmore College for its top liberal arts ranking and the opportunity to play women’s basketball. She was awarded a full academic scholarship. Majoring in English, she declared a second major in religion, interested in the roots of human behavior and religious convictions. “I knew I needed to get the best grades I could in order to get into the best law school. My strength was writing — not math or science — so I focused on my strengths.”
Initially considering entertainment law, a specialty selected by many Black female attorneys, Radiance kept an open mind at the University of Maryland School of Law and was drawn to intellectual property, namely, trademarks and copyright. “I never wanted to be a courtroom attorney; I wanted to be a transactional attorney,” she discovered. “It relates to my joy for English—the ability to look at a word and advise clients, saying ‘OK, this is a good name, you can trademark this, and here are strategies to move forward.’ I really enjoy the analysis and the strategy aspect.”
Since trademark law is a federal law practice, Radiance can work with clients nationwide as well as worldwide if they want protection in the United States. “I can work from my home office; I can work from the beach; I can work from anywhere. That is the beauty of trademarks — all summed up with a bow.”
Radiance graduated from law school during the 2009 recession having already secured a trademark and copyright law position at a top firm. She has been doing the same work ever since and established her own firm, Radiance IP Law, in 2015.
Many clients contact Radiance after being in business for a few years, making money, and realizing the value of protecting the business; others may discover that someone has stolen their brand or name. “That’s why I stress the importance of education,” she says. This led to Radiance’s bestselling book, Trademark Like A Boss: The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Protecting Your Brand, published in November 2020. Since writing Trademark Like A Boss (TLAB) during a 72-hour getaway and publishing it 90 days later, Radiance has been on a mission to educate entrepreneurs and business owners.
With 2020 a record-breaking year for trademark filings with the US Patent and Trademark Office, Radiance found an opportunity to build a brand around TLAB. It has opened doors for speaking opportunities and the launch of a weekly live Trademark Like A Boss™ Show. As the only law firm with the name Radiance, she has a strong brand already, bolstered by her TLAB brand. “I think that it will carry me a long way,” she says. “Those are very distinctive brands that I’ve created and protected and will continue to grow.”
Speaking from experience, Radiance advises Bullis students to believe that anything they envision for their lives is possible. “You just need to have a plan,” she says. “Everything that I set my mind to do, I’ve actually accomplished.
Your dreams are possible. Just create a plan and take action. And believe that they’re possible. That’s the key. Radiance W. Harris ’02
This article is featured in the Spring/Summer 2021 issue of Bullis Magazine.
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