Judge Carly Edelstein ‘04 Found “Responsibility to Give Back” at Sage Hill

By Daniel Langhorne
Since her years at Sage Hill School, Carly Edelstein ’04 has recognized the responsibility to give back to others who haven’t enjoyed the experiences and privileges she had growing up in suburban Orange County.

After earning her degree from Brown University, she went on to join Teach for America as a sixth grade English and history teacher in Los Angeles. This teaching role gave her a firsthand look at inequality in the U.S. educational system.

“I really did feel like I was making an impact on the kids in my classroom by inspiring kids to care about learning and also holding them accountable,” Edelstein said. “I also saw that our systems are often set up for our students to fail.”

Edelstein realized she wanted to create change beyond the four walls of a classroom. After earning her master’s degree in education policy and administration from Loyola Marymount University and law degree from UC Irvine School of Law, Edelstein pursued a legal career in the public sector that has included stints as a Michigan federal court clerk, a civil rights attorney at the U.S. Dept. of Education and a supervising attorney with the Office of the Ohio Public Defender.

In November, Ohio voters elected Edelstein to the Ohio Tenth District Court of Appeals. As one of eight elected district court members, she joins three-judge panels hearing both civil and criminal appeals.

“Really intelligent women lawyers approached me about bringing my voice to the bench because it was lacking. The judiciary shouldn’t just be reserved for people who come from big law firms or the prosecutor’s office,” Edelstein said.

After running a successful election campaign, Edelstein was sworn in by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Brunner in early January.

"The judiciary is often viewed as the pinnacle of the legal profession. Judges and Justices must exhibit the highest levels of ethics, industriousness, demeanor, and intelligence. I applaud Judge Edelstein’s remarkable ascension to the bench. She is among the many future leaders and role models who built the foundation for their successes right here at Sage Hill," said attorney and Sage Hill trustee Priyan Chandraratna '04.

During her time with the U.S. Department of Education, Edelstein fought for students’ rights to learn without fear of race, gender, disability, and other types of discrimination in Ohio. Her passion for defending equal protection under the law also led her to an Ohio nonprofit organization where she ran a legal clinic for members of the LGBTQ+ community who encountered obstacles in changing their name and gender, as well as other types of discrimination.

Edelstein met her husband, Ben, while they were both working as clerks in the federal courts -- she in Michigan and he in Ohio. Edelstein took and passed the California Bar exam with the intention of moving back to practice law in her adopted home state.

“There was never a goal of staying in the Midwest but things changed when I met my now husband. I took the Ohio Bar Exam and the rest is history,” she said.

They now live in Worthington, Ohio, with their daughters, Charlotte and Isabelle.

Sage Hill’s focus on community service and service learning engrained in Edelstein the drive to use her talents to effect change in the world. The robust curriculum also prepared her for matriculation to Brown University and beyond.

“I remember thinking college felt easier for me because the academics were so rigorous at Sage. I self-selected into some of the more rigorous classes, but I think there were very high expectations for us as students,” she said. “I think what is wonderful about Sage is we learned how to balance extracurriculars, community service and academics so when we moved onto the rest of the world we understood you have to work toward things that are bigger than just your grades.”

In her Sage Hill senior yearbook message, Edelstein shared her goals were to become the first female U.S. president and happily married with two children.

"In 10 years, I will be happy and hopefully making a difference in the world," she wrote in 2004.

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Sage Hill School

Sage Hill School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. The School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship programs, and athletic and other School administered programs.