According to family lore, recalls homeschool graduate and newly hired HSLDA attorney Amy Buchmeyer, “I walked into the kitchen when I was 6 years old and said I wanted to be a lawyer.”
She wasn’t sure then what lawyers did—she thought it involved a lot of yelling.
Nevertheless, the pronouncement stuck, and in May 2020 she graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School.
In fall 2020, she joined Home School Legal Defense Association’s legal team. It’s not easy to determine who was more excited by the staff expansion—Amy herself, or those who offered her the job.
“We’re elated to have Amy on board,” says HSLDA President Mike Smith. “With the homeschool surge prompted by the ongoing pandemic, she’s just the sort of person we need to help advocate for our growing membership.”
Love of learning
Amy’s parents decided to homeschool because of dissatisfaction with their own educational backgrounds.
Her father Steve attended public school. Early on the school labeled him with a learning disability, “and he was never able to escape that designation, though he highly doubts he actually had one,” Amy says.
Her mother Elizabeth did well academically in private school but never felt fully accepted by her peers.
So the Buchmeyers homeschooled their own children—Amy and her younger siblings Sam, Anna, Bethany, and Elijah—from kindergarten to graduation.
Amy says her parents strove to instill in their kids a love of learning that would inspire them to explore their personal interests. And it worked.
“I was definitely the bookworm,” insists Amy. Their family used a literature-based curriculum, which meant for her, "the best day was the day the schoolbooks arrived. I would get in trouble for reading ahead.”
In high school, while working on another self-directed project, Amy says she discovered how much she loves to dig deep into an issue—a trait that carries over into her approach to legal research.
Her mother had assigned a paper on the assassination of President Lincoln, and by the time her mother checked to see how her daughter was proceeding, Amy had already read a dozen books on the topic and written 36 pages.
“She threatened to fail me if I didn’t stop writing,” remembers Amy with a big grin.
Making a difference
As for whether or not her youthful declaration regarding her life calling was a fluke, Amy says that she received confirmation when she was 12. In addition to several other extracurricular activities, she joined a local club connected with HSLDA’s youth civics organization—Generation Joshua (GenJ).
“That was hugely impactful for me,” Amy explains. “It was the first time I met people like me—other teens who were interested in politics.”
She threw herself into GenJ activities. She served as her club’s public relations director, promoted GenJ at homeschool conferences, and participated in online forums, thoroughly enjoying intense discussions about government, leadership, and constitutional liberties.
In order to attend GenJ summer camps, says Amy, “I saved up my babysitting money.”
But the thing she found most thrilling and formative was participating in GenJ Student Action Teams—making phone calls and going door-to-door to turn out the vote for conservative, homeschool-friendly candidates.
She joined her first team in 2008, in her home state of Wisconsin. The candidates they supported lost, she says, but “I caught the grassroots bug.”
Several Student Action Teams later, in 2010, she was back campaigning in Green Bay.
“We won every single race,” recalls Amy. “It was a fantastic feeling knowing that I got to make a difference in my state.”
To the next level
Her passion for advocacy carried over into her first long-term job after graduating from Bryan College in 2015.
Amy worked as a field director at Americans for Prosperity, a grassroots advocacy organization.
“It was a lot like running Student Action Teams, but all year round,” she explains. She drew most of her volunteers from the homeschool community, and together they made phone calls or went door-to-door in support of free-market policies and legislation.
A few years later, in law school, Amy honed her views on the proper role of government while serving as president of her campus branch of The Federalist Society. And in her capacity as an editor for Wisconsin Law Review, she saw how people from different political viewpoints could still find specific issues they agreed on.
After law school, Amy went to work at another nonprofit, the Great Lakes Legal Foundation. The retirement of some key members soon revealed that the future of her position—as the only full-time employee—was in doubt.
That’s when she heard from a homeschool mom about HSLDA’s open attorney position. She asked people to pray for her and soon received encouragement from her old GenJ friends—including several who worked for HSLDA.
She submitted her application, participated in the interview process, and received an offer.
“I keep pinching myself. This is my dream job,” says Amy. And as an additional benefit, once she accepted the job, “it was a wonderful surprise to find I already had a community here.”
Jim Mason, HSLDA vice president of litigation and development, says Amy’s credentials spoke well of her.
“We could see that this was a capable young attorney with a vested interest in defending homeschool freedom,” he points out. “As a homeschool graduate and GenJ alum, Amy will be able to relate in a special way to the families she helps.”
Inspired by the past, looking to the future
Amy supports this assertion with a story from her own experience.
While studying abroad in Thailand during law school, Amy found a unique way through the church she attended to minister to refugee families. Because their questionable legal status prompted them to avoid scrutiny, these families taught their children at home.
“I was able to talk to them about my homeschool experience,” says Amy. “They were so surprised to find out I was able to go to college and even law school. It gave them hope that there was a future for them. And it reminded me to be grateful for the opportunities available in the United States for homeschool graduates.”
As for her goal in her current role, again Amy recalls a memory from childhood.
“As early as I can remember, we had HSLDA’s phone number prominently on the fridge,” she says. “We had a lot of peace of mind belonging to HSLDA, and I want to promote that same sense of freedom for parents to be able to choose how their kids are going to learn. I know it benefited me so much.”