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Amy Bergquist (’07) to Clerk for Justice Ginsburg

JULY 2, 2008—Amy Bergquist (’07) recently accepted a clerkship for the 2010-11 term with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “It is a great honor that Justice Ginsburg selected me to be one of her law clerks,” Bergquist says. “When I left my 11-year career as a high school teacher to come to law school, I never would have dreamed that this would be possible.” Bergquist taught at Minneapolis South High School from 1993 to 2004.

When she applied to the Court in April, several Law School faculty members sent letters of support, Bergquist says, “including my mentors: Professor David Weissbrodt and Professor Laura Cooper.” In addition, her current employer, Judge William A. Fletcher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, wrote a letter of recommendation. The results were a call for an interview and a clerkship offer.

“About once a decade, I encounter a student who excels in everything and demonstrates the skills, creativity, and personality to reach the very highest levels of accomplishment in the legal profession,” says Professor Laura J. Cooper, who holds the J. Stewart and Mario Thomas McClendon Chair in Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution and has been a law professor for more than 30 years. “Amy Bergquist is such a person.”

At the Law School, Bergquist was editor-in-chief of the Minnesota Law Review and was chosen by a faculty committee to receive the William B. Lockhart Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Leadership, and Service in 2007. “Amy has devoted her scholarship to issues of pressing importance in the field of international human rights,” said then-dean Fred Morrison in presenting the award, and she has dedicated herself “to service both within and beyond the Law School.”

When her clerkship with Judge Fletcher ends in August, Bergquist plans to work at Faegre & Benson in Minneapolis for a year before clerking with U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim on the District Court of Minnesota for 2009-10. In the summer of 2010, she will head to Washington, D.C.

Her partner, Erik Larson, a sociology professor at Macalester College, hopes to arrange for a sabbatical leave and do research in Washington for the 2010-11 school year. But they plan to return. “We are well settled in Minneapolis,” Bergquist says.

Other Law School alumni have clerked for the Supreme Court: James Hale (’65), Allan Ryan ('70), Scott Knudson (’82), and most recently, Doug Winthrop (’91), who served Associate Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992-93. Yet it is always a high honor and a prestigious accomplishment, which Bergquist shares with the Law School community.

“In my opinion, the success of the learning process at the Law School is contingent not only on the quality and expertise of the faculty, but also on the engagement and enthusiasm the students bring to the classroom," Bergquist says. "The University of Minnesota Law School is a place where all of those factors come together to enable law students to achieve their full potential.”

Portrait of Amy Bergquist

Amy Bergquist, at Commencement 2007