Loyola University Chicago

School of Law

Visiting Faculty and Faculty in Residence

Theresa A. Amato

Title/s: Distinguished Scholar in Residence

E-mail: Theresa@theresaamato.com

External Webpage: http://www.theresaamato.com


Theresa Amato is a public advocate. She currently serves as the executive director of Citizen Works, where she works to rebalance the power between corporations and citizens, and she is the founder and president of the Citizen Advocacy Center, which builds democracy for the 21st century. In both 2000 and 2004, Amato was the national presidential campaign manager and in-house counsel for Ralph Nader, producing the highest vote count for a third-party progressive candidate since 1924. In 2009, the New Press (New York) published Amato’s book, Grand Illusion, The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny, which advocates for systemic electoral reforms. Publishers Weekly termed Amato’s knowledge of election law “encyclopedic,” and the publisher of Ballot Access News called it the best book ever written on ballot access. Amato is a manager of Amato & Main, LLC., through which she advises nonprofits, foundations, and progressive candidates seeking office.

Amato began her legal career as a law clerk for The Honorable Robert W. Sweet in the Southern District of New York (Manhattan) and then was a staff attorney at Public Citizen Litigation Group in Washington, DC, where she litigated high profile cases and was the director of the Freedom of Information Clearinghouse.  Amato has also served as the executive director of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, worked in private practice, and is of counsel to the firm Despres, Schwartz & Geoghegan.  Amato is licensed to practice law in Illinois, New York and Washington, D.C. and she is writing a book about public interest lawyering and the legal profession to be published by the New Press (NY) in 2014.

Amato was named by The American Lawyer as one of the “future leaders of the legal profession” and one of the country’s “45 young lawyers (under 45) whose vision and commitment are changing lives” in 1997 and was named in 1998 by Harvard Law School as a Wasserstein Public Interest Law Fellow.  In 1999 and 2000, respectively, Amato received both the NYU Law and Loyola Law Chicago Public Service Awards.  In 2002, Harvard’s Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government named Amato a Fellow and she led there a seminar entitled “Mobilizing for Justice: How to Take on the System and Make a Difference.”  She has written for several publications on human rights, politics, and Italian-Americans—she has a regular column on parenting in Fra Noi.  Amato has also lectured at numerous law schools and appears regularly on/in national and international media outlets.  She teaches a course called “Advocating for Social Justice in Illinois” at another local university. 


Harvard University, A.B. 1986, cum laude in Government and Economics

NYU School of Law, J.D., 1989

Program Areas

Community Lawyering and Civic Rights (Fall 2013); Consumer Law (Spring 2014); The Art of the Presentation (Fall 2014)

Amato currently serves on the Council of Regents of Loyola University Chicago, and on the Advisory Board of the Loyola University Chicago School of Law’s Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies.



Amato was the Root-Tilden Scholar from the 7th Circuit, the Senior Note and Comment Editor of the New York University Law Review, the recipient of the Orison S. Marden for first place oralist in Moot Court, and the recipient of the NYU Vanderbilt Medal for Extraordinary Contributions to the School of Law.