Berl Bernhard was born in New York, New York on September 7, 1929 to Morris and Celia (Nadele) Bernhard. Berl lived in New Jersey, then attended Dartmouth College, graduating in 1951 and Yale Law School, graduating in 1954. His law career began in Washington as a law clerk to Luther Youngdahl. In the late 1950s he took a position on the Civil Rights Commission, and was appointed staff director by John Kennedy in 1961. In 1963 he returned to private practice, and became counsel to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee in 1965. He became involved with Senator Muskie's 1968 vice presidential campaign as a result of his DSCC work, and then went on to work for Senator Muskie's 1972 presidential campaign as national campaign manager accompanying the Senator on his trips to Israel and the Soviet Union. From 1980 to 1981 he served as senior advisor to Ed Muskie when he became Secretary of State.
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Nicoll, Don, "Bernhard, Berl oral history interview" (2002). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 27.