ALUMNI PROFILE Amy Ridgeway (JD ’23)

Constantly learning

Amy Ridgeway (JD ’23) thrives as a federal clerk

Loyola University Chicago School of Law encourages students nearing graduation to pursue federal clerkships, highly competitive jobs that allow alumni to work alongside judges and learn legal practice and procedure, gain invaluable research and writing experience, and observe the inner workings of the courtroom. Amy Ridgeway (JD ’23) secured a two-year clerkship with the U.S. District Court in Rock Island, Illinois. Here, she shares her thoughts about essential job skills, which law courses are especially handy, and why this role is so rewarding.

What skills do you think are most important in this job?

The obvious skills are research and writing. I spend 92 percent of my time researching and writing. It is also very important to be internally motivated. In law school, I often sought out external feedback, like grades, to motivate me, but that doesn’t exist in the same way in a clerkship. I manage my own caseload and am responsible for staying on top of my assigned cases. I have had to learn to trust my own capabilities and have more confidence in my legal analysis. And ask good questions! That was the key to my success in law school and is a skill I utilize constantly in my clerkship.

What is the most fulfilling part of this job?

I am constantly learning! And it seems that almost every seemingly simple concept is more complicated than I realized. For example, I was working on one case in which the parties were disputing whether or not a computer forensics expert witness was necessary to testify regarding files being deleted from a computer, or whether that could be done by a lay witness. Going into my clerkship, I thought knowing what subjects require an expert witness would be quite straightforward, but I now realize that is not the case. I also love knowing that my legal analysis and conclusions have a real impact on real people’s lives. It’s daunting, certainly, but also momentous.

“I have had to learn to trust my own capabilities and have more confidence in my legal analysis.”

How do you think Loyola School of Law prepared you to be successful in this role?

Certain classes and professors were a huge help in preparing me for my clerkship: Federal Courts with Barry Sullivan has (perhaps obviously) been the most directly relevant. Conflict of Laws with Dean Strang has been surprisingly helpful because our court is located right on the border of Illinois and Iowa, which has brought up some interesting jurisdictional issues. Criminal Procedure with Alan Raphael has definitely come in handy. Moot Court was also excellent preparation. In Moot Court, I researched and argued two sides of the same issue, which has been a great help for me now as I read parties’ briefs and evaluate their arguments. Moot Court helped me learn to identify strengths and weaknesses of arguments which is critical for the work I do now.

What else would you like to say about your clerkship experience?

I highly recommend clerking to anyone who enjoys research, writing, and legal analysis. It exposes you to all different kinds of legal issues. For example, I’m working on cases involving Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity, Section 1983, products liability, expert witness disputes, and complex jurisdictional issues. It is an invaluable learning experience. –Kristi Turnbaugh (January 2024)


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