Commitment to the Core

Allison Bergman cited by School of Law

Allison Bergman isn’t afraid to put her money where her mouth is.

The Kansas City development lawyer – and 2013 Alumni Achievement Award recipient for the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law – has dedicated much of her professional life to reviving Kansas City’s urban core.

A decade ago, when she and her husband bought a 19th century Victorian on Union Hill, she committed a good bit of her personal life to that cause as well.

“It was falling down,” she said in a 2010 interview with Super Lawyers magazine. “It had missing floors. It had been a boarding house. It had been a variety of things. And my husband and I completely rebuilt it from the ground up.”

Bergman, senior counsel at the Hardwick Law Firm, would like nothing more than to rebuild all of Kansas City’s beautiful old buildings in just the same way. The city’s historical architecture is part of what attracted her to Kansas City in the first place.

The 1996 School of Law graduate studied urban planning as an undergraduate at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. And she never lost her passion for historical architecture and downtown revitalization.

One of Bergman’s first jobs involved practicing with Jerry Riffel, a well-known real estate attorney with Lathrop & Gage. It gave her experience working on a number of downtown development projects. That led her to make partner at the firm, and to other prominent development projects, including the redevelopment of the old federal courthouse downtown into affordable housing, and efforts to redevelop the 90-acre Beacon Hill neighborhood.

During 14 years as a partner with Lathrop & Gage, Bergman also made a name as a top transportation attorney, representing the Kansas City Terminal Railway Company as general counsel. While at Lathrop, Bergman served as the only woman on the firm’s executive committee and as chairperson of the diversity committee.

“Allison is a mover and shaker,” Matt Meier, senior project development manager with The Alexander Co. who worked with Bergman on the court house project, told Super Lawyers. “She opens doors. She keeps her fingers on the pulse.”

Bergman can list a number of honors and awards behind her name. These include being selected by Missouri Lawyers Media as Best Business Practitioner for the Western District of Missouri; being recognized on the Diversity Journal’s list of Women Worth Watching; and being selected by the Missouri Bar Association in 2009 as a finalist for Lawyer of the Year.

But her accomplishments also include a great deal of community involvement. Among other things, Bergman has given her time to Sheffield Place, the Urban Land Institute, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the Broadway Corridor Beautification Committee and the Downtown Council’s Blighted Buildings Subcommittee.

Just as Bergman has made a personal commitment to downtown Kansas City by choosing to live in and improve a piece of the city’s urban core, many of her volunteer hours also have been devoted to improving the city she now calls home.

“In some ways, Allison’s work is her hobby,” said attorney Zach Holden (J.D. ’97), who worked with Allison when she was an associate with Morrison & Hecker, her first job out of law school. “Allison has always served on many extracurricular organizations devoted to some cause benefiting the urban core.”

And don’t expect this devotion to end, said friend and colleague Jennifer Carno Nelson.

“She is not one to rest on her laurels,” Nelson said. “Allison has great vision and high standards. She is a creative thinker, adapts well to change, and is excited by new opportunities and knowledge.”

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