Class of 2024: Meet Abby Ryckman


Abby Ryckman ’24 was able to translate her undergraduate studies in science and medicine into a legal internship at Pfizer during her 1L year of law school. She was also an active member of Fordham Law Women and organized a number of symposia and other events during her time as co-president. After graduating, she will be joining Willkie, Farr & Gallagher in the firm’s intellectual property division, while also pursuing pro bono work with nonprofits focused on women. 

What is your hometown?

Albuquerque, NM.

Where did you study before Fordham Law?

Barnard College ’18, studying political science and dance with a pre-med track.

What are your areas of interest?

I’m interested in intellectual property law. I’m a first-generation lawyer, and I had no idea what area I wanted to work in when I began law school. As an undergraduate at Barnard I worked in a neuroscience lab for two years. In the three years between undergrad and law school, I worked in a developmental biology lab. Despite my background, it wasn’t until after my 1L summer that I realized I wanted to be an IP lawyer. While working for Pfizer, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in this area. I loved how the work combined not only innovation and law but also creativity and the arts. I have always been fascinated with “how things work,” which is the reason I stayed in research for so long before deciding an M.D. or Ph.D. was not for me. Devices, substances, methods, reading, and translating the science into legal arguments was so fun. Incentivizing innovation is important, but it’s more personal than that. I remember thinking about the applications of my experiments and feeling proud of their potential impact. Through an IP practice, I will be able to help protect the hard work of scientists and continue pushing the field further.

Why did you choose Fordham Law?

Fordham Law is unique in its location, post-graduate job opportunities, alumni network, and community. Fordham offered the rigor and camaraderie I was looking for. After I was admitted, I sat in on a property class with Professor James Kainen and a legislation and regulation class with Professor Jennifer Gordon. The classes were on Zoom, and both professors stayed on with me for an extra hour after the classes ended to talk about the subjects and Fordham. Their enthusiasm and willingness to spend time answering my questions made me even more excited to join Fordham Law.

What was the best thing about studying law in New York City?

I have lived in New York City for almost a decade and cannot imagine a better place for this time in my life. I have had access to incredible resources, museums, performances, and parks, plus it’s incredibly convenient for travel and exploring the world.

What were you involved in at the Law School?

I was a 1L representative for Fordham Law Women (FLW) and continued on as co-president in my 2L and 3L years. This group meant the world to me. I got to be a part of two symposia, in which we developed panels on areas of law I find important—and fun! Last year’s panel on “Defamation in the Post-Me Too Era” was so interesting. One of the panelists had just started her own law firm, and I was invited to the launch event. I was able to plan lunches and host alumnae who were generous with their time and advice. And I was able to talk to incoming classes about their fears and goals for law school. Fordham has such a diverse student body. Hearing their stories over the years, their different pathways to law school, and their desires for careers inspires me. Seeing someone walking down the hallway with a FLW sweatshirt on always made me smile. I hope I was able to provide resources, reassurance, and guidance to the students who will be the future of this group.

What was your favorite experience at Fordham Law?

Section 7’s first property law class with Adjunct Professor Paula Franzese. There were many more wonderful moments, but I remember feeling like I belonged in law school and like I was finally on the right path while in my first classes with Professor Franzese. I think many of my classmates would agree that Professor Franzese is quite memorable. I had the great fortune to TA for her at Barnard College this past year for her Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and First Amendment Values classes. Bringing what I learned in law school to my alma mater was amazing. 

What are your career plans?

I will soon be joining Willkie, Farr & Gallagher in its intellectual property division with a focus on patent litigation. I will also remain engaged with pro bono projects near and dear to my heart, including assisting women-focused nonprofits such as Hot Bread Kitchen.

What is one piece of advice you would give to incoming 1Ls?

Be kind to one another and to yourself. People notice when you show up for others. That said, remember you can’t pour from an empty cup. Sometimes you need a day to regroup and reassess, and that’s not failure or weakness. Take time for your mental health—and your friendships—and you’ll be able to tackle the rigors of law school from a better place.

Did you have any important mentors during law school?

I had so many wonderful mentors during law school—my FLW co-president last year, Katy Keane ’23, Professor Paula Franzese, and this year’s FLW co-president, Celine Alhout ’25. I watched these women navigate the challenges of life and school without letting them affect how they treat others.

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