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MSU Profiles

Journey leads alumnus to N.D. Supreme Court

In fall 2007, Minot State University freshman Brandt Doerr thought he would become a history teacher. Detours in his academic path eventually brought him to law school and then the North Dakota Supreme Court. On Aug. 1, 2016, he became a law clerk for North Dakota Supreme Justice Carol Ronning Kapsner for the 2016-2017 term.

"Initially, I sought a history teaching degree, but I finally made the decision to pursue law school," Doerr remembered. "I enjoyed history, and the reading, researching and writing aspects of the discipline translated well into a law career."

The Burlington native transferred to Minnesota State University-Moorhead for two years, but he and his wife, Jaymee, returned to Minot after they had their son, Jude. Balancing the demands of school, work and family life, he completed a Bachelor of Arts in history with geography, economics and Native American studies concentrations from Minot State University in fall 2012.

"Dr. Daniel Ringrose is fantastic, and he helped me realign my classes with the transfer," Doerr said. "I enjoyed his classes, and he also helped me break some habits in my writing before I moved forward to law school. Minot State provides access to professors with whom students can form relationships."

Doerr continued on to the University of North Dakota School of Law and graduated cum laude in May 2016. He was admitted to the North Dakota Bar Association Sept. 23.

A memorable law school experience for Doerr was becoming a champion of moot court competition.

"That was an absolute blast," Doerr exclaimed. "The internal moot court competition is within the law school, where students review a fictional case from a lower court and write appellate briefs. My partner and I gave oral arguments through several rounds and were privileged to argue the final round in front of the North Dakota Supreme Court when it visited the law school.

A law clerkship is a prestigious, paid position for which many students compete. Doerr is one of five law clerks with the North Dakota Supreme Court.

"A law clerk to a judge aids in the research and writing of opinions and helps determine what the correct law is," Doerr said. "Essentially, law clerks are ‘ghost writers' for the court. The judge has the final say, but there is a lot of legwork and research behind opinions. Law clerks sit in on oral arguments, so they get to see the written and oral arguments of many attorneys. It's a great learning experience to cap off law school."

Doerr is looking forward to developing programming for the North Dakota Supreme Court Justices Teaching Institute.

"Every other year, the North Dakota Supreme Court holds the Justices Teaching Institute, where it brings in approximately 20 history and social science high school teachers to learn about the court and the law," Doerr related. "It's an interesting intersect to what my chosen career path was at one time, becoming a history teacher, and where I am now, an attorney."