November 28, 2020

November 2020: Casey Edelstein

Carly Edelstein, 10th District Court of Appeals Judge, Former Co-President, ACS Columbus Lawyer Chapter.

Carly Edelstein (she/her)
10th District Court of Appeals Judge, Former Co-President, ACS Columbus Lawyer Chapter.

I became an attorney because I believe law has the power to remedy inequality and transform communities. After college, as a teacher in Southern California, I witnessed grave inequalities. I encountered a broken education system that disproportionately affected students of color from low-income communities. Most of my students did not have access to early childhood education and therefore entered school behind their wealthier, suburban counterparts. To contextualize that experience, I studied urban education policy before heading to law school. I learned that fixing the education system and providing equal access to quality education, housing, and healthcare cannot be accomplished in one classroom. Rather, I hoped to work toward these goals and break the cycle of poverty through larger policy and legal advocacy. 

While I have zig-zagged across the country from Rhode Island to California and then landing in the Midwest, and my career path has taken various unexpected turns, my commitment to those goals has remained steadfast. I began my legal career as a law clerk and then at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, fighting racial discrimination in schools. After a brief stint at a nonprofit healthcare organization designing a legal services program, I found myself at the Office of the Ohio Public Defender in Columbus, Ohio, as an appellate defender. Although I never imagined a career in criminal law, this has been one of the best decisions I could ever have made. It combines my desire to fight racial discrimination and create systemic change with client contact and intellectual rigor. Every day, I fight with and for incredible clients by giving them a voice in a system that has rendered them voiceless. I would not trade this experience for anything else.  

Once I landed in Columbus, where I planned to stay for the foreseeable future, I began planting roots. And that included finding a community of like-minded people. I naturally turned back to ACS after having been a student member of my law school chapter. I’ve had the pleasure of serving as an attorney on the executive board of the ACS Columbus Lawyer Chapter for four years, having served the past two years as co-president. Our small but mighty team has accomplished so much in the past two years, including Supreme Court reviews, an awards reception to honor local powerhouse lawyers, a lively #MeToo community conversation, and programming addressing impeachment, election protection, applying the lessons of Korematsto today’s worldcriminal justice reform, and police violence against communities of color. The past seven months have been very difficult for everyone, but the ACS Columbus Lawyer Chapter has embraced the challenges created by the pandemic and continued to put out powerful programming for our local community and folks around the country. 

I’m so grateful and proud to be part of a community of like-minded people who are committed to using their powerful skills and social capital to build a better world. I have found my people – people who can commiserate with me when it seems like the world is coming to an end and who can celebrate the small and big victories in our own lives and in our community. Although I have finished my two-year term as co-president, I look forward to continuing my service on the executive board and providing the Columbus community with quality programming and resources and a place of belonging for progressive-minded people. 

Learn more about the Lawyers of ACS »