Pursuit of Family Law Fulfills Path to Helping Children in Need

Alexis Gilman standing in Dineen Hall

Alexis Gilman ’20 (NEW), L’24 already loved Syracuse University before she applied to law school. After all, she had spent four years on campus as an undergraduate earning a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Gilman loved the atmosphere and the reputation of the University. So, when she decided to follow her passion into child advocacy/child welfare law, Gilman knew the next step was a law degree from the Syracuse University College of Law.

Gilman at a Syracuse basketball game in the JMA Wireless Dome during her undergrad

“I’ve always cared about helping children involved in the legal system,” she explains. “I knew that pursuing family law was a way I could truly help children faced with difficult situations, and I felt really drawn to that.”

While Syracuse Law does not have a specific concentration in child advocacy, Gilman found experiential courses like Trial Practice and Family Law Mediation to be especially interesting. She also took advantage of an externship during her second year of law school with the Hiscock Legal Aid Society’s Family Court Program, which provides pro bono counsel to those who cannot afford representation in mandated cases.

Gilman poses with a friend outside of Dineen Hall

“My experience here has made me much more confident in myself, both personally and professionally. It helped me see more clearly what kind of law I want to practice.”

Alexis Gilman ’20 (NEW), L’24

Gilman not only learned a lot from the experience, but she also found a role model in Amanda McHenry, managing attorney of the Family Court Program. “Amanda is so confident and such a good leader,” Gilman says of her mentor. “She has a lot of responsibility but is very graceful in the way she handles things. I look up to her, and being a part of the Family Court Program really helped me to solidify what kind of lawyer I want to be and how to be the best advocate possible in this area of the legal profession.”

Adding to her experience, Gilman spent last summer as a legal intern in the Domestic Violence Bureau of the Queens District Attorney’s Office. And, she is a member of Syracuse Law’s Family Law Society, an admissions ambassador and the senior notes editor of the Syracuse Law Review.

Gilman adds brochures to a folder in the admissions suite

Gilman says her decision to attend Syracuse Law has improved her life in so many ways. “My experience here has made me much more confident in myself, both personally and professionally. It helped me see more clearly what kind of law I want to practice. And, I also met my best friend in the whole world here,” she says.

After Gilman graduates this spring and passes the New York State Bar exam, she will go to work as an agency attorney for the Division of Family Court Legal Services at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) in New York City. In this role, she will work on child abuse and neglect cases brought in front of the court, representing the commissioner of ACS in Family Court to obtain the best outcomes for children and families. Gilman will also work with Child Protective Services (CPS) and other child welfare specialists to further the agency’s mission to protect children.

Gilman posing in front of the admissions suite

“This kind of work is not for everybody, but I think I have the heart to take on cases related to children and families who are often going through some of the worst times of their lives,” she says. “I’m confident that I’m someone who is empathetic and able to remain calm in emergency situations, and I hope to use these skills to help others and bring about some good. I am excited to take what I’ve learned at Syracuse Law and apply it to a career path I’m so passionate about.”