Public Interest Law Initiative

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Ritchey, 2004 Law Student Intern

Posted on: May 10, 2017

Sarah Ritchey Headshot

Sarah Ritchey is a tax attorney at Holland & Hart in Denver, Colorado. She began her nonprofit practice as a PILI Intern in 2004 at Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. There, she worked on guardian ad litem cases, divorces, adoptions and more.

“My experience at CVLS made me realize how much of a need there is for direct legal services and how much impact the work has on peoples’ lives,” said Sarah.

After her PILI Internship she continued to volunteer at CVLS for two years, using her 711 license to go to court, and gaining a litigation skill set usually not found in transactional tax attorneys. After graduating from Northwestern University School of Law, Sarah lived in London working as a corporate finance attorney, and then moved to Washington D.C. where she worked for Miller & Chevalier and clerked for the United States Tax Court. She moved to Denver approximately two years ago. Wherever she has lived and worked, she has brought her commitment to pro bono service with her. “One of the first things I did after moving to Denver was become certified as a guardian ad litem and become a volunteer with the direct legal services’ organizations,” said Sarah.

She credits her supervisors at the time, Phil Mohr and Meg Benson, for trusting her with important work early in her career and helping her understand the importance of direct legal services. “Everyone likes to do more sexy pro bono work like wrongful convictions,” said Sarah. “I was one of the only ones in law school doing the unsexy work of divorces, adoptions and guardian ad litems because I knew the strong effect it has on peoples’ lives.”

Her experience as a PILI Intern also helped her recognize her own privilege and realize the advantages she has as an attorney. “It was an eye opener to see how much power you can have with your license and how much help you can give to those less fortunate, sometimes without even leaving your office,” she said.

Sarah is also grateful for what the work has given to her. She says over the years she has developed a different perspective, built meaningful relationships and gained an appreciation of the challenges facing others in different walks of life. “I’ve spent more time in housing projects than most people in my position,” Sarah explained. “Providing direct services really does help bridge gaps, and gives me a perspective that I’ve been able to carry over into my own life and hopefully, share with others.”

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