Student Spotlight: Eloisa Cleveland ’23

Eloisa Cleveland ’23

NYU Law Dean's Scholarship

What is your favorite part about being a NYU Law student?          

I love the community at NYU. My class started during the first year of the pandemic, and I was struck by how compassionate my classmates were to each other during that strange year. We made sure to take care of each other and built a community, even as we were scattered across the world. I also find it really inspiring to be around people (professors and students) who are so passionate about the work they are doing. 

Describe your experience in the Family Defense Clinic.

In the Family Defense Clinic, we represent parents in abuse and neglect proceedings. Students' work is supervised, but we are given a great deal of autonomy in making decisions about our clients’ representation, a huge responsibility that has taught me an incredible amount. This clinic is unique in that we work with grad students in the social work school, who bring a new perspective to the class. I've learned so much from them, from my fellow classmates, and from our incredible professors (Chris Gottlieb and Marty Guggenheim) about holistic, effective advocacy.

How has your experience in the Family Defense Clinic shaped your career aspirations?

Before law school, I had never heard of family defense. I came to law school to be a public defender, motivated by issues of social and racial justice. I've found that those issues are equally present in the family regulation system, a system that disproportionately impacts families of color. But a lot of the systemic racism and inequality in the family regulation system goes unexamined, because it's seen as a system that protects children. Being part of this clinic has made me seriously consider family defense as a career and confirmed my passion for working for systemic change. 

What's the last book you read and loved?

I just finished The School for Good Mothers, by Jessamine Chan, which is about a mother who gets caught up in a dystopian version of Child Protective Services where parents are heavily surveilled and punished for any small mistake, so not at all unlike the current system. It's fascinating and does a really good job of highlighting the absurdities of this system. I highly recommend it!