Amy Shotmeyer ’05 finds there is no downtime working in the legal profession. As an associate at the firm of DeCotiis, Fitzpatrick & Cole, LLP in Teaneck, N.J., her practice crosses several disciplines including civil litigation, insurance defense, renewable energy, community development and affordable housing. As a member of the partnership’s insurance defense group, she defends public entity clients, including municipalities and housing authorities.
“What I’ve learned from my career so far is that a typical day for me is never typical,” Shotmeyer says. “Whether I’m researching law to write a legal brief, preparing a memorandum for a client, arguing a motion before a judge or conducting a deposition, there is never a dull moment. I am constantly learning.”
Shotmeyer, who entered Lehigh as an English major, found a new direction almost immediately after taking her first class with David Anastasio, professor and chair of earth and environmental sciences (EES).
“I gained an appreciation for environmental sciences. I declared my EES major shortly thereafter,” she says.
A Rock-Solid Foundation
As a student in the EES department, Shotmeyer vividly remembers taking part in several overnight field trips to study the region’s geology and its rock formations. However, during her senior year, Shotmeyer, who was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, took several courses focusing on environmental studies, policy-making, climate change and international environmental law.
“I was hooked. I knew this was my career path,” she says. She graduated with a B.A. degree, with dual majors in earth and environmental sciences and science and environmental writing. Shotmeyer notes her science and environmental writing major served as a strong foundation for her writing skills, which she knew would be essential for a legal career.
Because of her academic success, Shotmeyer was awarded the opportunity to stay a fifth year tuition-free as a Presidential Scholar. She took advantage of the time to obtain a third major in environmental studies and completed an honors thesis, “Administrative Discretion and 1990 Clean Air Act Policy-making at the Environmental Protection Agency,” with Sharon Friedman, professor of journalism and director of the science and environmental writing program. Shotmeyer then went on to attend Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark, NJ. During law school, she interned with DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole, LLP, who hired her as an associate attorney after passing the New Jersey Bar.
“A highlight of my career so far was working with my firm’s green practice group to become a leader in providing solar renewable energy-related legal services throughout New Jersey,” explains Shotmeyer, who has been with the firm since 2010. She had the opportunity to attend the 2011 Energy Master Plan hearings conducted by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities in Trenton, N.J., on behalf of her solar clients.
Currently, Shotmeyer spends her days researching law, writing briefs, conducting depositions and appearing in the courts across New Jersey for oral arguments or motions.
“I defend public entities in a complex environmental litigation involving the discharge of hazardous substances under the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).”
She says she hopes to continue her work in the private sector of the legal field at DeCotiis and perhaps branch out into environmental policy making.
Although work is extremely important to Shotmeyer, her love for her family is a priority. Shotmeyer says she was drawn to Lehigh because it resembled a large family, something with which she is quite familiar as the youngest of six children. Her older brother, Tim ’00, provided a first glimpse of life on South Mountain, and it wasn’t long before Shotmeyer knew that she also wanted to join her sibling.
“When Tim would return home for breaks, he would light up telling me about how exciting his Lehigh experience was,” explains Shotmeyer. “I started visiting him with my parents occasionally on the weekends. From seeing the Alumni Memorial Building to visiting Tim on the Hill, I knew that Lehigh was going to be the place for me.”
When she entered Lehigh, her brother was working in the university’s advancement office. “It was wonderful to have him at Lehigh throughout my first year to guide me through typical first-year experiences,” she says.
Family support—from her parents and siblings as well as from her Lehigh family—has played a prominent role in Shotmeyer’s success and happiness in both her career and her personal life.
“I have incredibly supportive parents who encouraged me to follow the direction of my true interests. I undoubtedly would not be where I am today without the support from my parents and siblings,” she says.
She credits her Lehigh family for providing her with excellent opportunities to keep pursuing her interests, no matter where they led. Not only did Shotmeyer pursue her interests in her academic work at Lehigh, but she also followed her passions outside the classroom. She was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and is still very close with her sisters. As a staff writer for the Brown & White bi-weekly feature “Science Times,” she wrote about climate change. She was also a staff member of Lehigh’s Epitome yearbook and worked on the sororities and fraternities section. The coursework, combined with the extracurricular activities, provided a solid skill set she uses daily in her career.
“Lehigh prepared me incredibly well in writing, communication and interpersonal skills,” she says.
An active Lehigh alum, Shotmeyer visits campus at least once a year and says she particularly enjoys visiting the new Science, Technology, Environment, Policy and Society (STEPS) building. She also plans events for the Lehigh Alumni Club of Northern New Jersey and is on the EES department career panel, where she speaks to Lehigh students about using an EES degree to get into the legal field.
As a resident of Franklin Lakes, N.J., the same town where she grew up, Shotmeyer says her tight-knit family all live nearby and she enjoys spending a lot of time with her nieces and nephews.
“When I’m not doing my day job, I’m at recitals, sports games, birthday parties and play dates.”
Involved with Grace Bible Church, Shotmeyer was recently appointed to the missions committee and will assist in planning the church’s missions outreach initiatives. A lover of fresh air, Shotmeyer loves skiing, running, biking and basically any outdoor activity.
“Although I’m in a suit during the week, I stay true to my Lehigh ‘environment roots’ and trade the pumps for hiking boots on the weekends!”
Shotmeyer adds she’s “extraordinarily blessed” with two “wonderfully loving” parents, Charles and Alexandra Shotmeyer, who have been married for more than 51 years, five older siblings and 11 nieces and nephews.
“My parents have always been huge supporters of Lehigh,” she says. “They frequently visited me on weekends, taking me to the Hotel Bethlehem for Sunday brunch and coming back to campus to visit with my friends. Those are some of my fondest memories of Lehigh.”