BKX News Story: Surfing the sea of immigration

BKX News Story: Surfing the sea of immigration

By Kenneth V. Quintanilla

Ladd A. Baumann
Senior Partner
Baumann, Kondas and Xu LLC


  • Juris Doctor Degree, University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA (1969)
  • Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice Studies, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom (2004)
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Secondary Teaching Certificate from University of Michigan I Ann Arbor, MI, USA (1966) Ladd A. Baumann Criminal Defense Litigation Certificate from National College for
  • Criminal Defense Lawyers at University of Houston Law School, Houston, TX, USA (1973) Civil Litigation
  • Certificate from Hastings Law School, University of Califomia, San Francisco, CA, USA (1977)

On the function of law, Baumann says: “There will always be problems in everyday life, society and the community. The law offers, not a solution in and of itself, but a methodology to approach those problems. Nothing in the 40 years that I’ve been doing this kind of work has changed my mind about that. I still see the law as the best chance to get things resolved without beating (up) somebody.”

When Ladd Baumann started teaching high school English in a poor part of Detroit, he joked with his students that they needed a lawyer more than a teacher because they were always getting into trouble. Although (at the time) he didn’t imagine he would actually become a lawyer, Baumann was somewhat motivated by his students, and (he) decided to enroll in law school without any idea of what he would learn or what would become of it.

“l think that being a teacher allows you to stand back and look at what you do. In my case, in the practice of law, it allows you to look at (a situation) without the pressures of trying to be a problem solver,” Baumann says. “l have found that my personality and interests are (most compatible) with the problem-solving aspects of tie law.” Becoming a lawyer allowed him to become tie ultimate problem solver, he says.

In tie span of a 40-plus-year career in law, Baumann says tie biggest downside to the practice of law is that there are always two sides to a dispute with one side winning and the other side losing. “So as a lawyer, you (sometimes) have to live with the losses and tie burden of not being able to achieve the results your clients hope for.”

On the other hand, the biggest enjoyment Baumann gets from being a lawyer is simply the ability to help others. “l enjoy (it when) people come in and ask me questions, and I try to solve their family and legal problems,” Baumann says. “l find it really rewarding to be able to do that.”

Another rewarding experience has been seeing his two daughters become lawyers. Although he had thought that they would opt for different careers, he assumes they were somewhat inspired by his career choice, and he continues to offer advice to them. His daughters both practice law in Nevada. “My advice to my daughters has been to be honest and explain to their clients what they can and cannot do for them,” Baumann says.

Honesty with clients, Baumann says, is essential to having a sustainable career in the field of law. “It is just as important of what I can do for them as a lawyer”, Baumann says.

In 1974, Baumann and his wife Frances decided to not spend the rest of their lives in the cold rain of Oregon, and after hearing of a job opening at the Public Defender Service Corp. until 1977 (when he went into private practice). After dealing with many different legal specialties throughout the years, Baumann took over an associate (attorney’s) position dealing with immigration. “I hadn’t gone anything (with immigration law) before that, but I ended up liking it (so much) that it has taken over my life,” Baumann says. “Immigration is a big part of business on Guam because we have constant labor shortages (and must bring in skilled workers).

(Today) Baumann is the senior partner at Baumann, Kondas and Xu, LLC, specializing in international business, immigration law and litigation. His private practice has more than 50 major clients that range from (hotels and) restaurants to (banks and) construction companies. “Companies look locally to find local people to (fill a) job opening, but we’re very small community, and education is not as high as it might be, so we don’t have a big pool of (skilled) people,” Baumann says. “To keep our businesses going on Guam and to keep the talent available the businesses need, we rely on the U.S. immigration system.” Guam is a prime place to practice immigration law, Baumann says. “We are a community of immigrants besides the indigenous population,” he says. “Guam is an entry point for the United States from Asia.”

Guam has great people, he says. “We have all kinds of problems, but the saving grace of all that is, that the people are wonderful, charming and interesting. As you travel around the world especially in my business, you really begin to appreciate how lucky we are to live in this community,” Baumann says.

Baumann takes full advantage of the ocean as his backyard, especially to relieve the stress his profession brings. “l like to wind- surf and be out in the water,” Baumann says. “l have found it helpful to take a break and get out of the office, and being out in tie water helps put things into their proper perspective.” He says its a shame that most people living on Guam don’t do tie same. “Some people dive, some surf, but for me windsurfing gets me in tie water and reminds me of one of the great things about Guam which is its beautiful beaches and warm water,” Baumann says. He prefers to stay active and along with windsurfing plays tennis, basketball and occasionally, golf.

Baumann has dipped his (toes) back into teaching by instructing in programs for the court and the business community, along with being a part-time instructor throughout the years at various institutions including the University of Guam. (However), he says it is unlikely he will return to (teaching) full-time. “(As a teacher), I can talk with the students about all the aspects of divorce law [for example] and all the interesting problems which may come up (in a divorce). I find (that) intellectually interesting,” Baumann says. “That’s one of the reasons I went back to get my master’s degree, I enjoy learning about the broader legal concepts and how they apply and how different people do things.” (However), Baumann has been in his profession for a long time and, having just reorganized his office at the beginning of the year 2010, (he) says he sees himself continuing to stay busy (in private practice). “My goal has always been to run a full-service law office and provide a range of services,” he says. “I’ll do it until I quit.”