A Conversation with Judge Amy St. Eve


Public Interest Students Visitors

On October 18, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law proudly welcomed Amy St. Eve, United States Circuit Court Judge for the Seventh Circuit, to the 2023 Pope & John Lecture Series on Professionalism. The conversation covered St. Eve’s decades-long career, the lessons she has learned along the way, and her advice for future lawyers.

After students, faculty, and staff filled Lincoln Hall, Dean Hari Osofsky introduced St. Eve, expressing her gratitude for her continued support of the Law School. “We could not be luckier to have Judge St. Eve share her insights with us today,” Dean Osofsky said.

St. Eve opened by underlining the differences in law school demographics when she graduated in 1990 compared to now. “At the time I graduated from law school, women made up 40 percent of students at law schools, compared to 55 percent now [in 2023],” she said. “Fifteen percent of equity partners in law firms were women [in 1992], compared to 22 percent of equity partners now.” From her career in law as a working mom, she highlighted the “Top 10 Lessons Learned Over Three Decades in Law.”

  • Work hard.
  • The legal world is very small. “Don’t burn bridges. Do the best that you can at every new job,” St. Eve said.
  • Mentorship is important.
  • There is no good time to have kids. “Balancing a career in law and having children can be very complicated,” St. Eve said. “You think you can map [your life] all out, but it’s not that easy to do. My advice to you is when you want to have children, have children. You will figure out the rest.”
  • Get out of your comfort zone.
  • Ask for help.
  • Be an advocate. “I became aware very early on in my career what it meant to be a woman practicing law,” St. Eve said. “No one should be treated differently because of their gender. I’ve stood up for others as well as myself, I’ve always been passionate about that.”
  • Strive for life balance.
  • Give back. “As someone who has devoted her entire career to public service, I know the importance of giving back and helping others,” St. Eve said. “It’s rewarding. And it’s important to our profession to do that.”
  • Be nice.

As the conversation and subsequent Q&A ended, St. Eve expressed her hope that her career would inspire the future lawyers present. “Over the last three decades, I’ve been blessed in life,” she said. “It is definitely a journey to get to where I am now and I’ve learned invaluable lessons so far. Thank you for the opportunity to share these lessons with you. I hope you will take some of these lessons with you throughout your journey.”

St. Eve was appointed a United States Circuit Court Judge for the Seventh Circuit in 2018. Before her appointment, she served as a United States District Court Judge for the Northern District of Illinois from 2002-18. She previously served as a member of the Judicial Conference Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure (2013-19), the liaison to the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules (2013-19), the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (2006-13), and the Federal Judicial Center’s District Judge Education Advisory Committee (2016-18). St. Eve also served as the Seventh Circuit Representative to the Federal Judges Association (2007-13) and is a prior member of the Northern District of Illinois Patent Local Rules Committee.

St. Eve has been a member of the American Law Institute since 2018. She is also a member of the Federal Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois. She is an adjunct professor at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, teaching trial advocacy and complex civil litigation.

The Pope & John Lecture Series on Professionalism focuses on the many dimensions of a lawyer’s professional responsibility, including legal ethics, public service, professional civility, pro bono representation, and standards of conduct. The Chicago firm Pope & John Ltd established the series in 1991.

To learn about the lecture series, click here.