Member Spotlight, 0421 COBJ, Vol. 50, No. 4 Pg. 104

PositionVol. 50, 4 [Page 104]

50 Colo.Law. 104


Vol. 50, No. 4 [Page 104]

Colorado Lawyer

April, 2021

Elie Zwiebel

Elie Zwiebel helps students obtain educational resources, defends students against discriminatory actions in school systems, and supports holistic juvenile defense.




Law School:

University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Lives in:


Works at:

Colorado Juvenile Defender Center and Elie Zwiebel Law

Practice Areas:

Intersection of education law and juvenile defense

CBA Member Since:


Why did you become a lawyer?

When I was a teacher, I saw how the regular injustices of school discipline, law enforcement referral, and economic inequity devastated the lives of my students and their families. I went to law school to become a more robust ally and advocate.

What is one of the most positive experiences you've had as a lawyer?

On October 6,2016,1 received a call from a colleague who worked with me when we were both students in the DU Civil Rights Clinic. We had worked together to petition President Obama to grant clemency to two individuals serving life sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses—they had both spent over 10 years in federal prison under draconian, regressive, and antiquated mandatory sentencing laws. The two of us spoke with the U.S. pardon attorney moments later: Both of our clients would receive clemency—one would be home within six months, the other within three years. I broke down in tears of joy. I have the privilege of regularly seeing and sharing in joy with one of these former clients, who now lives in the Denver area. He is thriving at work, in his community, and as a father.

Outside of the law, what are your hobbies?

I enjoy gardening (bonsais, vegetables, and native and pollinator-attracting flowers), vermicomposting, cooking, training the best dog ever, hiking in national parks with my partner, and getting together with friends for trivia.

What organizations are you involved in?

The Colorado Juvenile Defender Center, LYRIC (Learn Your Rights in the Community), Colorado Attorneys Against Police Violence, the Colorado Criminal Defense Institute, AUL Denver, and the National Lawyers Guild.

If you weren't a lawyer, you'd be?

A teacher.

What are you favorite Denver restaurants?

Breakfast King for breakfast, El Five for brunch, Vinh Xuong for lunch, Safta for dinner, Sweet Action...

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