Student sets sights on environmental law career

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Krysten Hergert earned her undergraduate degree in scientific and technical communication from Michigan Technological University, starting her studies in environmental engineering.

“I quickly realized I was more interested in the bigger picture than the individual engineering problems,” she said. “We toured a water treatment plant and I was asking questions like, ‘How does this entire system work together? Where does the water come from and what happens next?’ I wanted to be the person who explained those answers to others.”

Hergert then mostly worked in proposal writing for architecture and engineering firms, a very technical marketing niche.

“I love writing proposals — they're like a giant puzzle,” she said. “You need to think of all the individual pieces of information that need to be included and then work out how they go together in a cohesive manner.”

Now a 3L student at WMU-Cooley Law School, she was drawn to study law by wanting to make a difference in people's lives.

“While I love writing proposals, in the end there is usually more than one architecture or engineering firm that can do a good job for a client. I wanted to join a field where I could still
engage in lots of technical research and writing but, at the end of it, what I write really matters to people's lives now and in the future,” she said.

She particularly appreciative of the Cooley Law faculty.

“The professors are the best part,” she said. “Most are willing to bend over backwards to get you the help you need. They are always willing to meet with you until you truly understand something.”

Hergert enjoyed working at the law school’s 60+ Clinic for the Fall 2022 term.

“It was an amazing experience to work on real legal issues,” she said. “It was wonderful to know I was making a concrete difference in people's lives. I wanted to become a lawyer so I could make people's lives better and the 60+ clinic has given me the ability to do just that.”

When she was a member of the Law Review, Hergert enjoyed honing her writing and editing skills and helping determine what articles Law Review would publish.

“It was so cool to help make decisions on what content would be published in an issue that's going out into the world permanently,” she said. “In my final term on the law review, I was one member of an all-female board — serving on that board was an amazing experience.”

As a teaching assistant for Contracts I and II for more than two years, Hergert has worked with most of the current Cooley students.

“It's a great opportunity to pass on some of the skills I've developed in law school to the next group of students — and there's the added benefit of knowing contracts inside and out when I start studying for the bar,” she said.

She also enjoys mentoring 1L students and helping them have a positive experience as they transition into the law school lifestyle.

“Law school is very hard —there's no way to sugarcoat it. Nothing can really prepare you for that transition,” she said. “But as a student mentor, I was able to help students learn how to make that transition and give the advice I wish I’d been given.”

Passionate about environmental issues, Hergert would like to pursue that field in her legal career, and this term is externing at Fausone Bohn in Northville, focusing on environmental law.

“I'm excited to see what new skills I can master,” she says. “I’m passionate about preserving our natural environment, especially when it comes to water. I can't wait until I can start using my legal career to help protect our natural resources as well.”

The COVID-19 pandemic was an unusual time for Hergert, who got married on April 18, 2020, with 10 people in attendance and a "drive by" reception from friends and family.

“In a way, we were very lucky because we both went from working a ton of hours away from home to being home together all the time and it was a wonderful way to spend the first year of our marriage,” she said. “I did, however, find remote classes very challenging. It’s very difficult to pay attention to someone who's talking to you on a screen and the interaction between students and the professors basically stopped once we went online.

A native of Davisburg in Oakland County, Hergert now makes her home in Fenton, near Flint, with her husband and baby daughter. In her leisure time, she enjoys reading, especially fantasy novels; and playing the violin.

“I played the violin for most of my childhood and also played in the school orchestra during undergrad,” she said. “Every couple years I head back up to Michigan Tech to play with the orchestra in an alumni concert and it's the best time. Playing an instrument alone can be a lot of fun, but the beauty of what you can do with an entire ensemble is simply breathtaking.”

A major passion is travel, including being an international summer school student at King’s College London in the U.K. during undergraduate studies, where her favorite tourist activity in London was climbing to the top of St. Paul's Cathedral.

“After studying abroad and realizing how much you can learn about the world simply through travel, I've been travelling as much as I can,” Hergert added. “It's something my husband and I enjoy doing together and can't wait to start sharing with our daughter.”


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