STUDENT PROFILE Ruddy Sirri-Akonwi Abam
A passion for advocacy
Lawyer-to-be hones her courtroom skills—and racks up competition honors
3L Ruddy Sirri-Akonwi Abam, a Philip H. Corboy Fellow in Trial Advocacy, has competed in four national competitions and was part of Loyola’s championship team at the 2018 William H. Daniel National Invitational Mock Trial competition. In 2018-19, she won the law school’s Gary David Friedman Award in Trial Advocacy. Coming into law school, “I naively thought confidence and outspokenness—qualities I learned from my mother—are what make a good advocate,” she says. “At Loyola and as a Corboy Fellow, I’ve learned that a lot more goes into it: patience, grit, understanding, and dedication to presenting a compelling story that is believed not only by you but more importantly, others. The quality that’s served me best is passion.”
LONG-HELD LAWYERLY ASPIRATIONS: Originally from Cameroon, Abam emigrated to the U.S. with her family after her father was persecuted for his support of democracy. “I felt at a very early age that I wanted to understand the rule of law and how it affects people’s lives,” she says. “I grew up seeing corruption take hold of everything. I needed to understand how government is run, legislation is passed, and laws can work for people instead of against them—I wanted to represent the law I didn’t feel I had growing up.”
UNDERGRAD ACHIEVEMENTS: Abam’s family moved to Anchorage, where she earned a BA degree in Justice cum laude at the University of Alaska; interned in the Office of U.S. Senator Mark Begich; and presented her honors thesis, “Early Childhood Community Intervention: Preventing Neighborhood Factors of Crime and Delinquency,” at the 2015 Law and Society Association Conference.
CHOOSING LOYOLA: When she selected a law school, “I looked for locations that had options for me to grow and schools that have a good understanding of diversity and inclusivity,” Abam says. “Chicago has racial, socioeconomic, and gender diversity and affords me lots of opportunities to meet attorneys who can provide me mentorship. Receptive to student concerns, Loyola is ever evolving, and truly prepares its students to take on the role of advocacy. The huge network of very successful attorneys who’ve come out of the school made it a very appealing choice. I feel like I made the right decision.”
HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE: Abam has taken full advantage of Loyola’s extracurricular options, working as a 7/11 licensed attorney at the school’s Community Law Center Clinic and completing several internships and externships. “Getting into real work—competing on a moot court or mock trial team, writing motions, understanding the pieces of a contract, representing a client—gives you important hands-on skills,” she says. “You more fully understand legal concepts when you try to apply them. As a lawyer, I’ll need to prove my worth by how much I know and how well I serve. Clerkships and extracurricular activities make me a more well-rounded scholar, and that’s invaluable.
POST-GRADUATION PLANS: Abam hopes to eventually “settle into a career where I’m in the courtroom trying cases,” she says. Meanwhile, she’s expanding her skills by turning a summer associateship at the Chicago defense litigation firm of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP into a post-commencement job offer. When she graduates in 2020, she’ll be an associate in the firm’s consumer financial services practice group. “I’ve had great mentorship from the brilliant attorneys at Hinshaw,” she says, “and I’m really looking forward to learning how to build a case differently from the way I’ve been doing with trial work.”