A Lifetime of Service To & For Her Profession 5/2/17 05/11/17 11:55:56 PM
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Amy L. Longo has spent her professional life celebrating the contributions of others, while downplaying her own considerable support of the legal profession.
Amy L. Longo
A Lifetime of Service To & For Her Profession
By Dennis Friend
& Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record
Engage Amy L. Longo in a conversation for any length of time and you may come away convinced that the phrase “self-effacing” was created to describe her. In fact, you might also believe that this longtime Omaha lawyer would never use that phrase or even describe herself as “modest” because it might sound too much like bragging.
And Longo is not inclined to brag – or to talk about herself at all.
“I’m really pretty ordinary,” she said. “My philosophy is, I always show up.”
That philosophy seemed to be reason enough for the Omaha Bar Association to recognize Longo with the OBA Lifetime Achieve-ment Award this year. Her long legal career as well as her service to both the legal profession and the community means Longo has become one of only a handful of lawyers to be recognized with this award.
This is not an annual award. It’s given to someone when it’s deemed to be merited, and recognizes exemplary service to the legal profession, support and service to the Omaha Bar Association, innovative contributions to improving justice and longstanding commitment to mentoring in the law. Longo is only the ninth attorney to be given this award since its creation in 2001.
“That’s very kind of them,” Longo said. “I was speechless. I’m not sure why they honored me, but the Omaha Bar Association is a good organization with involved people who are good lawyers, good judges and good people.”
Senior U.S. District Judge Lyle E. Strom thinks Longo most assuredly qualifies for the honor.
“Amy Longo is a leader in her profession. After graduating from Creighton Law School, she joined a firm now known as Ellick, Jones, Buelt, Blazek & Longo LLP. The firm is over 60 years old and its members have spent their entire private practice careers with the firm. Amy was the first female president of the Nebraska [State] Bar Association and has also been president of the Omaha Bar Association. She takes pride in her career and cares about her clients. She is indeed deserving of this award.”
“I’m an Omaha native who never left,” she said. She attended St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School in Bellevue and went to Mercy High School in Omaha, graduating in 1966.
Longo’s parents attended and graduated from Creighton University, as did five of her siblings, so she too decided to go to Creighton. However, she initially did not have law school as her ultimate goal.
“I went to Creighton for nursing school. I didn’t feel like a lawyer type,” Longo said. However, a good friend got her interested in the legal profession.
“I thought I’d try it and it fit well.”
That’s how she wound up with two Creighton degrees, first her Bachelor of Science in nursing in 1970, then her Juris Doctor in 1979, so “I’ve been doing this since 1979.”
And that’s why she also has taught both nursing and law topics. She has been an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine and lectured on a number of legal issues to health professional faculty, staff and students.
Longo said she initially believed she and her newly-minted law degree would find a home in a government position, but fate again intervened. She had a friend who told her “There was an opening at Ellick Spire & Jones (the firm’s name at the time), so I came here and this is where I’ve been since.”
Longo has been a partner since 1985 in the firm. Her expertise is in employment, health and estate law, estate planning and probate. She has represented employers before administrative agencies, such as the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission, and in litigation before state and federal courts.
Longo’s self-effacing demeanor surfaces once again: “I don’t know that I’ve done anything unusual. I’ve lived a pretty dull life.” She is more than willing to give credit to her firm and her colleagues.
“This firm is very active and encouraged me to participate in bar-related matters, and all the partners feel service is important,” she said.
Early Advice Still Relevant
She has never forgotten something she learned in her early days at the law firm, advice she believes is good for any lawyer, advice she still follows for herself. “We don’t know everything. We want to be told if we’re wrong. It’s a good thing to lose and to learn to say ‘I don’t know,’” Longo said.
She has followed her own counsel and Longo’s list of credits is extensive. When she became Creighton University’s 2002 Alumni Merit Award recipient, she was described as one of the best-liked and most respected lawyers in the city of Omaha and the state of Nebraska.
In 1999, she became the first woman in the 100-year history of the Nebraska State Bar Association to be elected president. Under her leadership, the bar embraced “a new commitment to openness and a renewed devotion to the provision of legal services for all Nebraskans.”
Former Omaha Bar Association President J. Terry Macnamara of McGrath | North has known Longo for many years. He described Longo as “a faithful and involved OBA member since she was sworn in to practice in 1979. Her mentors and former partners, Alfred G. Ellick (OBA President 1962) and Robert M. Spire (OBA President 1978-1979) supported her involvement in the OBA and the Nebraska State Bar Association.”
Macnamara reels off a string of Longo’s accomplishments adding, “This is much more information about Amy than you would ever find out from talking to her directly. She is the epitome of a lifetime of service to the Omaha Bar Association.”
Longo, for her part, simply stated, “For me, I hope the bar association always remains a big tent and allows everyone to be involved.”
Longo’s list of credits also includes: Fellow of both the Nebraska State Bar Foundation and American Bar Foundation; serving on the Nebraska State Bar Commission; the first chair of the editorial board for The Nebraska Lawyer and an initial member of the Nebraska State Bar Association’s Committee on Volunteer Legal Services. Prior to being elected president of the Nebraska State Bar Association, she served as its chair of the House of Delegates and was the delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates.
“I hope lawyers take advantage of the bar association to meet new people. It’s to your advantage to know people, to communicate. It’s valuable and it helps provide services,” Longo said.
Seven quick things you need to know about Amy L. Longo:
• What is your favorite thing about practicing law?
“Past and present: 1. Having had the opportunity to work with Al Ellick and Bob Spire. 2. Working for my entire legal career with partners who are kind, patient and willing to answer my frequent questions. 3. Learning new things every day. 4. Working with clients to resolve problems. 5. Working with colleagues of the Omaha Bar.”
• When you are not working, what are some things you enjoy doing?
“I enjoy being with my family, attending sporting events and movies, and, I enjoy solitude.”
• Tell me more about your family. What do your brothers and sisters do?
“I am very fortunate to have been raised by two very caring parents who expected their children to be good to one another and to care about other people. They expected us to put a smile on our faces and work hard. They gave us all the opportunity to get up and start again when we failed. (Believe me, other parents would have given up on me!) I have six brothers and two sisters. We all are very close. All of them and their spouses are very good to me.
“My sisters, Mimi Bowman and Ellen Hurley, were both RNs before they started their families. I have six brothers: Chuck, a retired cardiologist; Gernon, a urologist; Fred, an orthodontist; Walter, a hematologist/oncologist; John, a radiation oncologist, and Peter, a political scientist and professor at UNK.”
• Are there a lot of family get-togethers? How many nieces and nephews do you have?
I have 35 nieces and nephews and 62 great-nieces and -nephews. The local family members get together at least for holidays. As a group, we have had many weddings where we all try to attend. I love my nieces and nephews and great-nieces and -nephews. I even have had the privilege of being the godmother for one of my great-nieces.”
• Do you golf? Enjoy walking? Gardening? Reading?
I do not engage in any sport involving a ball. In ancient times, I loved to swim and hope to swim in my ‘older’ age. I enjoy travel, I love to walk and I love to read. I also enjoy being a couch potato, at which I am very good.”
• What is one thing people don’t realize about you?
“I came late to the law. The law is a welcoming profession!”
• What makes you laugh?
“The ridiculous things I do with no intention of being funny.”