June 2021 VIP: Amy B. Kretkowski, Esq.
Amy B. Kretkowski, Esq.
Veterans Law Office of Amy B. Kretkowski PLC
Member, TVC National Volunteer Corp
Our June VIP is a dedicated member of our TVC National Volunteer Corps, whose path to becoming an accomplished veteran’s advocate was not typical.
Amy Kretkowski’s first love was screenwriting and she received her BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She then spent the next 18 years in television production in New York and Los Angeles before deciding to go to law school with thoughts of going into entertainment law. Amy attended the University of Iowa College of Law and after she graduated, she and her husband relocated to Washington, DC for his work. She began looking into federal appellate clerkships and came across an opportunity at a court she had not known existed, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). As the daughter of a WWII veteran, Amy was intrigued by the Court’s jurisdiction to provide judicial review on final decisions by the Board of Veterans' Appeals.
Amy was not a typical law clerk applicant. At the time, she was 44 years old and had just graduated from law school. But she was accepted and had the good fortune to clerk for Judge Mary Schoelen, the first woman Judge to serve on the Court. The clerkship was a great experience for Amy, and it allowed her to take a deep dive into veterans law for over two years. She did not realize it at the time, but she had discovered what would become her second career and her most fulfilling work.
Upon leaving the Court, Amy participated in TVC’s Pro Bono Program training for outgoing federal clerks. This training was led by TVC’s Director of Outreach and Education, Margaret Bartley, who is now current Chief Judge of the CAVC. Amy took on her first CAVC case with the assistance of her mentor, Linda Blauhut, who is now the Deputy General Counsel for Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and was the Chair of the CAVC‘s Rules Advisory Committee. Having such accomplished mentors and role models in Judge Schoelen, Chief Judge Bartley, and Linda Blauhut was an invaluable learning experience and set Amy up to become a successful advocate and then mentor. Amy currently has her own Veterans Law practice in Iowa, representing veterans and their survivors in their VA appeals. She has been working with TVC as a volunteer since 2011 and mentoring attorney since 2012.
Amy has dedicated her legal career to helping veterans and their loved ones obtain the VA benefits they deserve. In addition to her practice, she teaches an upper-level course in Veterans Benefits Law at The University of Iowa College of Law, trains VSOs in effective veteran’s advocacy, and mentors law students on TVC cases on appeal to the CAVC. She is a highly respected advocate in the field of veterans law and chairs the CAVC Rules Advisory Committee. She has continued to take pro bono cases through TVC and mentor our volunteers. Amy has been a mentor for 35 TVC cases and she and her students have successfully represented 24 appellants (some several times). In addition to her pro bono support of our program, Amy is also a generous donor and has supported our annual event for the last three years.
“Being a mentor with TVC has allowed me to establish long lasting relationships with my mentees, many of whom have become colleagues and friends,” says Amy. “I treat these cases as my own and spend as much time as needed going through the case files and discussing potential issues with the mentees. This collaboration produces the best outcome for the client – and is a powerful teaching tool for the mentee.”
Amy credits TVC for the work they do screening cases with the success of the volunteers. Every attorney who receives training and accepts a case from TVC receives an analysis of the case, and a mentoring attorney to provide advice and assistance during the appeal. Mentors like Amy meet quarterly to discuss new cases and current trends they are noticing in practice before the Court.
“Amy is such a valuable member of our team, and we know we can always count her on to go above and beyond when she advocates for our veterans and their loved ones. She is a natural teacher, whose knowledge of Veterans law makes her an exceptional mentor. We are very grateful for her role as a volunteer and mentor, who is engaging and exciting young law students we hope will become lifelong advocates for our Nation’s defenders. I can’t think of a more deserving volunteer to be our VIP.”
Courtney L. Smith, Senior Director, CAVC Practice
I second Courtney’s assessment of Amy. She is exceptional in many ways and I can always count on her to provide wise counsel. We’re honored to have her support.
Judy Donegan, Deputy Executive Director