The American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) is the largest multi-disciplinary organization dedicated to education on matters related to insolvency and it awards the Medal of Excellence to the student with the highest grade in a bankruptcy course or other area of bankruptcy scholarship. This year it was awarded to Ally Pierce.
“I’m super honored to receive this award,” says Ally. “It was unexpected, but also fun to be recognized like this in law school.”
Ally is now a rising 3L here at UC Hastings, but took an unconventional path to law school after years in front of a conventional oven at the French Culinary Institute and the renowned Locanda Restaurant. “I was a professional pastry chef for ten years,” recalls Ally. “I spent my evenings plating desserts for a high-end restaurant. Then, I had kind of like a third-life crisis and just started a job as an entry-level intellectual property paralegal.”
After only a month of working as an in-house paralegal for a biotech company, Ally’s supervising attorney suggested that she could become a great lawyer and persuaded her to take the LSAT. “The next thing I know, I was going to UC Hastings,” exclaims Ally.
It wasn’t until law school that Ally realized there were other fields of law beyond intellectual property. “As I studied, I became interested in corporate law, business law, and of course bankruptcy,” noted Ally.
Her first exposure to bankruptcy law would come working for Professor Jared Ellias last summer as a research assistant. It continued with an externship with Judge William Lafferty ’85 at the Bankruptcy Court in Oakland and writing a student Note on proposed reforms to the bankruptcy code in conjunction with Dodd-Frank and banking reform.
Professor Ellias nominated Ally for the ABI Medal to recognize her dedication to the field of bankruptcy law. “Ally was an outstanding research assistant on important, cutting-edge projects on corporate governance in bankruptcy,” says Professor Ellias. “She also excelled in her Bankruptcy Law class and independently learned and analyzed the new Dodd-Frank bank insolvency regime for her student Note on the Law Journal.”
It was during a meeting with Professor Ellias to discuss her student Note where Ally first learned of her nomination and award. “I went in to talk to the Professor and he presented me with this big medal,” says Ally. “It was pretty exciting. I actually took the certificate home to my parents and they put it up on the fridge, which is a funny moment for a 34-year-old!”
After law school, Ally plans to apply to some clerkships and pursue a career in corporate or bankruptcy law. “I had an amazing experience working for Judge Lafferty. I got to see how judges make the rules that we follow every single day and I’m definitely interested in seeing more of that process.”
According to Professor Ellias, Ally will excel at anything she chooses to do after she graduates. “Ally has enormous promise for a career as a lawyer and, in particular, promise as a bankruptcy lawyer. It’s been a pleasure to have her as a student at UC Hastings and I’m excited to watch her enter this profession once she graduates – she will bring much credit to this school.”