Mike Terry, Deseret News
Former prosecutor Kim Cordova is joining defense attorney Ed Brass in his practice.

SALT LAKE CITY — Working as a prosecutor for eight years was educational and rewarding, but there came a time when Kim Cordova sensed she needed something new in her career.

This month she joined veteran defense attorney Ed Brass in his law practice and now will be appearing in court for the other side.

"I really felt I needed to grow as a defense attorney," Cordova said.

"One of the things I learned from Ed, and we talked a lot, was that people who need defense lawyers … are probably facing the worst times in their lives. Ed is possibly their only friend, the only person who is going to fight for them. That philosophy is very appealing to me," Cordova said.

"To make sure that things are done appropriately and justly within the confines of the criminal justice system and the law, and to do that effectively, is very appealing to me."

Cordova has been a prosecutor for the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office for eight years and, before that, a law clerk there for 11/2 years. She was hired by now-retired Salt Lake District Attorney David Yocom, who, since he also had worked as a defense lawyer, encouraged getting experience on both sides of the aisle to become a more balanced litigator.

Brass, who has been in private practice for 33 years, found his work load was growing.

"My practice had expanded to the point that I felt I needed help from someone who would have the same commitment to the people I represented," Brass said. "She's the perfect solution."

Cordova was born and reared in Salt Lake City, graduated summa cum laude from Westminster College with majors in English and psychology, and got her law degree from the University of Utah.

She was aiming for graduate work in psychology, but that bogged down. While working as a juvenile corrections counselor and juvenile probation officer, Cordova met 3rd District Juvenile Judge Andrew Valdez, who recommended she pursue law.

It turned out to be a good move.

Some of the cases Cordova has worked on include former Copper Hills High School teacher Melinda Lee Deluca, who served a jail term in 2007 after pleading guilty to engaging in sex with one of her 16-year-old students. Another case involved Jared Billette, who is set to be sentenced Feb. 3 for causing the death of his girlfriend's 9-month-old son.

Moving from a government job to private industry in the midst of a recession might seem risky, but Cordova said she is ready.

"Ed is one of the best criminal defense attorneys around in trials — he's amazing," she said.

She also is eager to continue being a trial lawyer.

"I cannot sit behind a desk eight to 10 hours a day. For the people who do, I give them a lot of credit — it's very hard to go over depositions or discovery for hours," Cordova said. "I find going to court exciting and challenging. I feel like I'm learning new things about the law all the time."