The Importance Of Giving Back: From ABI’s New Executive Director

The Importance Of Giving Back: From ABI’s New Executive Director

Amy Quackenboss is the new Executive Director of the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI). As a proud partner of CARE, Amy shared with the CARE blog a reflection on her own career of service and the importance of giving back through volunteer activities.

I am honored to have been selected to serve as ABI’s new Executive Director. I started with ABI in 2010 as its Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel. Prior to joining ABI, I practiced for 12 years in the bankruptcy, restructuring and creditors’ rights group at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP (then Hunton & Williams), which I joined after finishing a federal clerkship. I never planned to go to a large private law firm after my clerkship. What I really wanted to do was public interest work, but after taking out loans for law school, I had no choice. I had to take a job that paid well.

Many young associates select firms based on billable-hour requirements, salary or prestige. When I was interviewing, I was drawn to Hunton because of its commitment to pro bono work. Firms often say they have an annual pro bono requirement for their attorneys. Hunton not only required an annual pro bono commitment (50 hours per year), but also supported that work wholeheartedly. During my first several years as an associate, I was able to bill over 200 hours a year to pro bono matters. Yes, I did satisfy my billable-hour requirement, but I was also afforded the tools and resources by the firm that I needed to “do good” in our community. I spent much time working on a variety of matters, including serving as a guardian ad litem in domestic custody cases, representing debtors in reaffirmation hearings in bankruptcy court, reviewing contracts for Adopt-a-Golden Atlanta, and even doing a CARE presentation or two in Atlanta! Through this pro bono work, I grew as a professional and as a person. I also gained recognition and respect for my work on a much larger platform.

I say all this to let young lawyers know that what you do matters, and you can make a difference no matter where your practice leads you. 

-Amy Quackenboss, ABI’s Executive Director

The Importance of Giving Back

I joke that I found my public-interest career at a large private law firm. Of course, the bankruptcy and restructuring work was a plus! I say all this to let young lawyers know that what you do matters, and you can make a difference no matter where your practice leads you. Volunteer. Spend a few hours each month donating your time to help those who need it most. There is no better way to create change and to make a difference in your local community than to sign up as a CARE volunteer. As CARE now has over 400 active volunteers, you would be joining one of the best financial literacy programs in the country.

I cherish my time volunteering in classrooms talking with high school students about credit card debt and budgets for CARE. Not only is the work fun and engaging, but I have also met some amazing bankruptcy attorneys and judges along the way. You don’t need any prior experience in the classroom; CARE provides the training, presentation materials, speaker script and notes, and classroom guides and activities for the students and teachers. Find your local chapter, or start your own if there isn’t one already — and get involved today.

About the Author

Amy Quackenboss is the Executive Director of the American Bankruptcy Institute. She started this position in January 2020 and had previously served as ABI’s Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel for nearly 10 years.