Amy Cortez ’20 Receives the 2020 Sandra P. Zemm Labor Law Prize

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Amy Cortez ’20 is the recipient of the 2020 Sandra P. Zemm Labor Law Prize. The prize was established in 2009 at Chicago-Kent College of Law by the law firm of Seyfarth Shaw LLP to honor the memory of Sandra P. Zemm, who died in September 2008 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Zemm Prize winners receive $2,000 along with the award.

Amy Cortez
Amy Cortez '20, winner of the 2020 Sandra P. Zemm Prize.

Cortez graduated in May with a J.D. degree, a J.D. Certificate in Labor and Employment Law, and a certificate from the Praxis Program. Cortez was a student editor for the Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal and a member of the competitive Alternative Dispute Resolution team (2018–19).

“I am very fortunate to be a part of such a unique labor and employment program here at Chicago-Kent,” says Cortez. “Not only have I taken various courses in order to grasp the in-depth understanding of this area of law, but I have had the opportunity to pair that understanding with hands-on learning experiences offered to students in the program. I am thankful for the various mentors and supporters I have met in the labor and employment arena and in my overall law school career.”

Cortez received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During college she studied abroad at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain.

The Sandra P. Zemm Labor Law Prize is awarded annually to a third-year Chicago-Kent student in the J.D. Certificate Program in Labor and Employment Law who exemplifies the qualities that Zemm possessed: "a commitment to pursue a career in labor and employment law, a pioneer spirit and willingness to take the initiative whenever possible, and a gracious and generous attitude toward helping those in need," according to Seyfarth Shaw.

A Chicago native, Zemm earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois. She received her J.D. from Florida State University, where she served as managing editor of the law review.

She joined Seyfarth Shaw in 1975 as the first female associate in the Labor and Employment practice, and in 1982 became the firm’s first female equity partner in Labor and Employment. Zemm’s practice concentrated on traditional labor matters, and on matters involving employment discrimination, wage-hour, and employment litigation. She negotiated collective bargaining and/or shutdown agreements with major labor unions, and represented management in more than 200 hearings before arbitrators, the National Labor Relations Board, and various state labor agencies. In 2002 Zemm was elected to the American College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.

Seyfarth Shaw has more than 900 attorneys located throughout the United States as well as internationally in London, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Sydney, and Melbourne (Australia). The firm provides a broad range of legal services in the areas of labor and employment, employee benefits, litigation, corporate, and real estate.