Amy Love, deputy director of government affairs for the Arizona Supreme Court, is hardly your typical lobbyist.
Her friends may imagine she wins the court’s favor with lawmakers by making campaign contributions and buying people boats. But she’s too busy being a “bean counter,” working the budget to keep the courts innovative, educating lawmakers about the impact of laws they pass and tracking bills closely–“because the judges are busy on the bench being judges.”
More than a decade ago, Love was in a very different place. Now, though, she doesn’t know too many people who love what they do as much as she does.
I heard an interesting story about your entry into politics. It involved a tattoo parlor?
I actually dropped out of college. I was working at a pet shop for a couple years, and they started ordering puppies from puppy mills. So, I quit and ended up randomly walking into the tattoo shop where I had gotten a tattoo with my sister and got hired on the spot as their receptionist. Within a year or two, we were in front of the City Council fighting a use permit for a shop that had opened illegally and they were tattooing minors, and the City Council ultimately denied their permit and passed some very basic ordinances for the city related to tattooing. That kind of prompted me to look into going back to school. I had been out for a while, and I realized how much I enjoyed the researching and the advocating and the public speaking. I applied to ASU, and in my final semester, I interned at the Supreme Court. (Government Affairs Director) Jerry Landau, after I finished my internship, was like, “We don’t want you to go. We all love you.”
What is in the future for you? Do you think you’ll stay at the courts for another decade?
Absolutely. I just finished my eleventh session, and ten of them have been with the courts. Jerry has been with us for a number of years, but he’s made it very clear that he doesn’t plan on doing this forever. If and when he decides to leave, the goal is for me to then become the director. So, I’ve gone from intern to analyst to liaison to deputy director, and then ultimately, my dream job is to be the director, to have Jerry’s job, and then to do this work until I’m done or they get tired of me or I die in my office or in the gallery of the Capitol. I don’t know a lot of people who are lucky enough to love what they do as much as I do.
I feel like it would be pretty daunting to know in the back of your head that there’s this big plan for your career already laid out for you. Does that weigh on you?
Not anymore. I definitely had imposter syndrome when I came back to the court. I’m one of the few non-attorneys at my level. I actually don’t have a post-graduate degree, so I have gotten by on just experience and my sense of humor, I guess. So, definitely when I came back as a liaison, that was kind of daunting. I think I’ve paced myself in a way that I feel like I am actually growing into the position. But it took probably three years to feel comfortable enough to speak up. I know my stuff, and I belong.
How have your interactions with the Legislature changed over the years?
It’s been really great to dedicate myself to issues surrounding family court or juvenile justice or child welfare, juvenile court, and I’m starting to become known for those things. It’s really rewarding for me when a policymaker or their staff will call and say, “Hey, this came across our desk as a proposed piece of legislation. Can we get your thoughts first?” When I started, I was the intern who sat in the corner, and now, I have a place at the table and a voice. And I’m very cognizant of how I use that voice.
And your voice essentially speaks for all of the courts in Arizona. What’s that like?
If I really thought about it that way, I would probably have a panic attack. And maybe it’s better that I don’t. I show up, and I do what is not just asked of me. I like to think that I’m strategic and I’m able to help. My mom always said, “Life isn’t fair.” The thing I love about the courts is it’s supposed to be fair to everybody who walks in that door. There’s a lot in life that isn’t fair, but we’re the one place where it’s intended to be so.
I noticed your Twitter handle is @LilBat, and I saw a post that said your mom also used to call you BAT. What’s the deal?
Oh gosh, that’s kind of embarrassing. Yes, since I was a baby my mom has always called me BAT, and it stands for beautiful and talented. It’s kind of cheesy. But every Halloween, she goes crazy. Like, anything that’s in the half-off bin with a bat on it. Almost all of the tattoos that I have are related to bats.
Do you ever feel like you have to cover up your tattoos?
I do try. Obviously, I have (bat) tattoos on my feet, and I think everyone at the Capitol knows now. I’ve learned that I’ve become kind of known for the tattoos on my feet. Would I do it again? Probably not, but I don’t think I’d go to the trouble and the expense and the pain of having them removed. It’s kind of a fun conversation starter. And Justice (Clint) Bolick, I joke with him because he successfully fought a court case for a tattoo shop, and to celebrate his win at the Supreme Court, he got a tattoo on his finger. We joke that we’re the only two inked people at the courts.