A small town Nebraska girl is finding her success as a lawyer, but she hasn’t forgotten what shaped her to what she is today — her farming roots.
Ally Von Seggern, a Creighton Community School graduate, has found the perfect balance in continuing her passion for her Native American heritage in her law career.
Growing up, Von Seggern was never really exposed to her Native American culture inherited by her mother, Yvonne Von Seggern. Yvonne grew up in Wisconsin as a descendant of the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin and is currently enrolled in the Three Affiliated Tribes of Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. At a young age, Von Seggern noticed some minor differences but was never able to grasp why her mom looked different from the other moms.
“I remember watching ‘Pocahontas,’ and it just clicked. And I was just like, ‘Mom. Umm, I think I might be Pocahontas.’ And she was just like, ‘Well, um, she’s definitely from a different tribe. But, I mean yeah, sure, you could be related.’ So, that’s just kind of where my fascination started,” she said laughing.
Along with her curiosity for the Native American culture, Von Seggern found her inspiration to become a lawyer from watching Judge Judy on TV as a child. She explained that at the age of eight, she had gotten a briefcase from her grandmother Virginia Von Seggern.
Within the briefcase, she made sure to keep a legal notepad where she wrote all of her eight-year-old thoughts about the cases she had watched.
Virginia explained, “Ally, from the time she was probably about 8 years old, used to play with Judge Judy. She always said she was going to be a lawyer. Well, we all kind of put that aside. But, Ally was always the kind of girl that if she made up her mind to do something, she would do it. And she will do it well. She was going to get the job done.”
As she finished up her fourth year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying history and ethnic studies, a Native American legal studies professor encouraged Von Seggern to look into going into law school. From there, she continued her education to the Indian Legal Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at the Arizona State University (ASU).
Being just a small-town girl, Von Seggern faced many difficult obstacles in her first year of law school. Finding her place in a new world, grasping new concepts, and remembering her self-worth were some adversities Von Seggern faced every day, but none of them could keep her from her lifelong dream.
“It took a lot of self-confidence because I went into law school thinking that I don’t really belong here. But, I had to continue to remind myself how hard I worked to get here. I knew that everyone else probably had better opportunities in education, better schools, and whatever,” said Von Seggern. “But, they also didn’t have what I could offer, what I had experienced. I know how to work hard, so I had that in my back pocket. I know that I will work harder because I’ve had to work hard.”
Graduating in May of 2017, Von Seggern turn her focus on studying to the Bar exam. Investing not only financially but mentally, she found herself studying countless hours. After two months, the week of the test arrived with Von Seggern’s nerves at an all-time high. She explained the bar is over two days with 6 hours each day; the first day consisted of the completion of six essays, as well as MPT’s. The second day showed to be the biggest obstacle in the test with the completion of 200 multiple choice questions.
Von Seggern received her results 3 months after the test, securing her new title as a lawyer. She is now developing and defending complex economic development diversification project by utilizing Tribal sovereignty at the Rosette, LLP, one of the only two national Indian law firms. Everyday, she is thankful for where she is today and where she came from.
She said, “I remind myself everyday that I am very lucky to be here and very lucky to be doing this because deep down I am still just a Nebraska girl from a small-town farm. I know I still have a lot to learn, and I know the only thing that separates people from people that they perceive to be the top lawyers is hard work. In reality, it’s just hard work and how hard you are willing to work And I do think it’s because I grew up on a farm and you have to work hard. You learn the value of hard work at a very young age.”