For 1990 GU Law (and 1987 Gonzaga) graduate Todd Ungerecht, the chance to influence local and national policies has been a natural outgrowth of a career focused on Northwest issues. Now living in D.C., Ungerecht took a few minutes to share his experiences.
Tell Us About Your Career
After law school, I worked for periods both as a deputy prosecutor and as an associate in private law firms in the Tri-Cities, Washington (where I’m from) in the 1990’s. Those experiences were great, because I met and worked with community leaders and county officials, occasionally served as Judge pro-tem and also represented clients. The bulk of my career, however, has focused on legislative and policy work for Northwest Members of Congress.
What Kind of Legislative Work Have You Done?
I have worked primarily on natural resources and energy issues, first with U.S. Representative Doc Hastings in the mid-1990’s, and later as legislative assistant for former Washington Senator Slade Gorton, as Legislative Director for then-Congressman Butch Otter (now Idaho Governor). I served as Counsel on the House Ethics Committee and now serve as Senior Counsel to Congressman Hastings, who is Chairman of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. I also worked for several years in a policy and congressional affairs role with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration during the Bush Adminstration. Through these experiences, I’ve learned a great deal and enjoyed many interesting new challenges. My family and I are now in the D.C. area. I maintain my membership with the Washington State Bar Association and also have been admitted to the D.C. bar association.
What do you Most Enjoy About Your Profession?
It has been an honor to have the opportunity to be a part of and influence policies that touch, not just the Northwest, but the entire nation. While I don’t often find myself in the courtroom now as before, I do work on issues directly tied to federal laws, regulations and policies, and I have developed many professional relationships and friendships on Capitol Hill and in other public and private entities that are experts in these policies. It is also professionally gratifying to meet and work with staff and to support elected representatives that are serious and care about what they do.
What is the Most Challenging Aspect of Your Profession?
There are many long hours and often short deadlines to do major things. In addition, there’s almost always too much to do, and prioritization is key. That requires discipline, organization, a sense of perspective and balance both when you’re at work and not.
Why did you Choose to Attend Law School?
I had an interest from the time I was attending Gonzaga University as a senior (I majored in Political Science and History). I took law-related courses, worked as a research/legal messenger for a Spokane firm, and worked for the Gonzaga Law Library, where I learned about areas of the law just from filing supplements and pocket parts.
How has your Gonzaga Education Influenced Your Career?
Gonzaga (both undergraduate and the law school) have a great reputation everywhere I’ve been, and people I’ve met through employment, social, politics, and other disciplines have reaffirmed that to me. Gonzaga was just an all around good place to go to school, be trained to analyze the law and develop professional skills. I value the friendships that I gained and which have endured since I attended there.
What Else are You Passionate About?
I enjoy spending time with my wife and two children, attempting home improvement activities, and whenver possible, traveling to see historical sights around the U.S.