After a brief time as Municipal Prosecutor, Thomas Jefferson School of Law Alumnus, Kevin Bergt ‘12, has accepted a position as Assistant District Attorney in Anchorage, Alaska.
An Alaska native, Bergt returned to Alaska in June 2013 alongside his wife, TJSL Alumna RuthAnne Bergt ‘13. “A few days after RuthAnne’s graduation, we packed up the car and made a 6000-mile drive north, to Anchorage Alaska, up the I-5 and through Canada on the ALCAN Highway,” Bergt said. There is little to regret Bergt notes, “So far, our decision has proven to be a great one for both of us. I am now working for the State as an Assistant District Attorney and RuthAnne was hired as Of Counsel for a prominent local firm here in Anchorage.”
Familial ties played a minor role in the Bergts’ decision; a more important consideration for the couple became the state’s thriving economy rooted in oil and gas exploration among other industries. “After a lot of research and discussion, my wife and I both came to the conclusion that Alaska was just a better place to start our legal careers,” Bergt continued.
After passing the California Bar in July 2012 and taking numerous contract positions in order to gain experience Bergt sat for the Alaska Bar in February 2013, all the while reaching out to the District Attorney’s and Municipal Prosecutor’s office’s periodically. “When I was in Anchorage taking the bar exam, I made sure to go to each office and get some face time with people who made hiring decisions. I even volunteered to work a day with the District Attorney and head of the office,” Bergt explained.
Bergt’s interest in prosecution, and law school, were sparked by his younger brother, also a TJSL graduate. “I was down visiting one summer and I had an opportunity to watch him argue at an evidentiary hearing. It was essentially a mini-trial in front of the judge, with several witness and evidentiary exhibits, and after it was all over I knew that I wanted to do what he was doing. I always wanted to go back to school and get a graduate degree, but it wasn’t until I watched little brother in court that I knew that I wanted to become a Prosecutor.”
Determined to accomplish this goal Bergt concentrated on his studies, earning a scholarship after only one semester. “While at TJSL, I spent two years on the mock trial team. I also interned at the San Diego District Attorney’s Office for three straight semesters. I was determined to get litigation experience in order to get a job as a prosecutor,” Bergt added.
Bergt’s focus was challenged after his accomplishments, despite recommendations from both supervisors and judges, failed to secure him an interview for the bar graduate position at the San Diego DA’s office. “There were just a few positions available that year, and something like 400 people from around the country applied. Even with my good grades and my letters of recommendation, I wasn’t even called back and I remember feeling pretty devastated,” Bergt explained. While Bergt did not obtain the position he envisioned immediately after graduation he set out to obtain as much paid, and unpaid, experience as possible while keeping an open mind.
After successfully overcoming the challenges faced by many graduates in today’s legal market, Bergt has the satisfaction of doing something he loves. “Criminal jury trials are the most exciting part of my job, without question. As far as I am concerned, it’s the most exciting thing you can do as an attorney. Every single time I am in trial, there comes an inevitable moment, usually right before the verdict is read by the jury Foreperson, where I’ll just take a look around the courtroom, smile to myself and think “I can’t believe I get to do this for a living!” I am very fortunate that I found this career path and just getting to do something that I love for a living is incredibly rewarding. I don’t take a second of it for granted,” Bergt assures.
When asked what advice he would give recent graduates who have passed the bar, Bergt emphasizes, “Be flexible- don’t confine yourself to San Diego, or California for that matter, in your job search. There are several states with strong economies where jobs are more abundant and you should strongly consider moving to them to get your career started. You can always come back to San Diego once you have a few years of experience.”