“Legally Blonde” Makes a Lasting Impression

“Legally Blonde” Makes a Lasting Impression

Gabriela Bergmann
Gabriela Bergmann

Gabriela Bergmann’s first passport photo is of a tiny baby.

More than a dozen passports later, Bergmann graduated in December with a J.D./LL.M. in International Arbitration. She took the February Florida bar exam and started work at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office in March.

Starting as a 1-month-old, the dual citizen was traveling back to her familial home in Brazil, having been born in Blacksburg, Virginia, while her father completed his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech.

Bergmann says she first started thinking about a career in law after watching a 2001 movie where a sorority girl tries to win back her former boyfriend by going to Harvard Law School, and in the end, puts to rest anti-blonde stereotypes.

“After I watched ‘Legally Blonde’ for the first time, I just started saying that I wanted to be a lawyer,” Bergmann said. “I was just a kid, maybe 10 years old, so it wasn’t some kind of last-minute thing. After that, I started watching crime dramas on TV—like ‘Law and Order’ and ‘CSI Miami.’ My mom and I loved them. I still watch them.”

The 31-year-old comes from a large multicultural family; her father is Spanish and German, and her mother is Italian and Portuguese. Growing up in Brazil, she said, was very fun because of the diversity of her relatives. “My family has all kinds: Some are quiet and serious, and some love parties.”

Following her love of all things legal, Bergmann graduated from law school in Brazil in 2015, specializing in criminal science and business associations, and began building a career in Belo Horizonte in southeastern Brazil. She liked the litigation and trial parts but was disappointed by the practice of criminal law.

“Brazil is a civil law country and it is not as open to litigators as it is here,” she said. “It felt like it wasn’t my happy ending and something was missing. So, in 2021, I decided to go back to the U.S.A. and restart my academic and professional life.”

Bergmann started an LL.M. in international arbitration and enjoyed Miami Law so much that she also enrolled in the J.D. program. While a student at Miami Law, she interned at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on the government side, Bacardi-Martini, and the offices of John H. Rooney, Jr. PA. She was also a dean’s fellow for all the international students for Legal Communication & Research, including Professors Renee Schimkat and Christina Frohock’s international students.

Bergmann found her internships through Miami Law’s Office of Career and Professional Development and Yazmyne Vasquez, the International LL.M. career advisor, and checked the office’s Simplicity system frequently.

“I advise every student to contact their career advisor as soon as possible and to do internships every semester.

“It’s funny because people ask me what is the field of endeavor you like?” she said. “I like three! Criminal, my passion. I like immigration, and I like business contracts. So, I decided to do internships in all three to see which is truly my passion. If one day I decide to change fields, I have experience and I know some people there. But, still, criminal is the top one.”

Bergmann took the MPRE, the professional responsibility part of the bar exam, in November 2023. She intends to take the New York Bar exam in the future, but for now, she will focus on Florida because of her work as an assistant state attorney in Miami-Dade.

“It’s so tempting because I really love the environment, and I loved everyone there in New York,” she said. “It was an amazing experience. But I got offers from the Miami-Dade and the Broward State Attorneys Offices, accepted the Miami-Dade one, and I hope to work in the special victims unit. That’s something I care about, and I think that—or homicide—would be great experiences.”

Bergmann chose Miami Law because of the city’s Latin community, which brings a home-like environment and opportunities for international lawyers. “I also love the fact that, in Miami, you always feel like you are out for holidays,” she said. “After a hard day of work, exams, and studies, you can still look out the window and watch the sea or the prettiest sunset ever. The city vibes recharge our energy automatically.”

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