In its Spring 2020 issue, National Jurist magazine named second-year UIC John Marshall Law School student Ally Pruitt “Law Student of the Year.”
Pruitt was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, a city that was experiencing skyrocketing crime rates. She lost many friends to gun violence while others ended up as victims to the criminal justice system. Pruitt recalls attending more funerals than she could count on one hand.
Specifically, when Pruitt was in high school, she lost her friend Jaylin Shaw, someone she considered a brother, to gun violence. “I vividly remember standing outside on a bitter cold February evening at the crime scene, distraught and upset, knowing in my heart that I had to do something to incite change,” said Pruitt.
Pruitt attended college at DePaul University, where she tutored inmates in the Cook County jail. This experience piqued her interest in criminal justice and ignited her passion for working in the field.
However, due to financial hardship, Pruitt could not afford to attend college for four full years. To complete her degree, she took summer courses through a community college, took extra credits during the year, and worked 3 jobs. In April 2018, was accepted into UIC John Marshall.
While in law school, Pruitt has completed several internships and clerkships. First, she clerked for Justice Carl Walker in the First District Illinois Appellate Court, where she worked on a variety of cases, including bankruptcy, intellectual property and criminal matters. After completing that clerkship, Pruitt began interning at the Cook County Public Defender’s Office on the Homicide Task Force, where she assisted with a case that was remanded from the Post-Conviction Integrity Unit. After serving 20 years for a crime he did not commit, Pruitt assisted in proving a man’s innocence and getting the case nolled. When discussing the experience, Pruitt said, “It was one of the most incredible and tear-jerking moments of my life and I am unbelievably honored to have assisted in fighting for his freedom.”
During her time at UIC John Marshall, Pruitt has spent the past two semesters working in the Pro Bono Litigation Clinic handling cases ranging from habeas corpus matters to parole board hearings to adoptions. Pruitt has also been very involved in honors programs and student organizations including serving on the Student Bar Association, being the President of the UIC John Marshall Criminal Law Society,and a competitor on the Law School’s Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court team and the Summit Cup trial team in Denver, CO, where she was named runner-up for the Outstanding Advocate award.