Black History Month Spotlight Series: Bele Edeoga

February 16, 2024

As part of our Black History Month celebration, we’ve asked our colleagues to reflect on the significance of this month.

Cleary Gottlieb law clerk Bele Edeoga shares some of her thoughts below.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Cleary.

My name is Bele Edeoga. I am originally from Nigeria. I graduated with a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2020 where I studied politics, economic theories, and Chinese. I graduated from NYU Law in 2023. While at NYU, I served as the treasurer for BALSA, one of the outreach co-chairs of Law Women, the admissions co-chair of OutLaw, and as a member of the Coalition on Law and Representation. I was also a staff editor for the Review of Law and Social Change. I am currently a first-year associate in the Cleary corporate pool, where I have worked on mainly capital markets and debt finance matters.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

To me, Black History Month is a time to celebrate the achievements and resilience of Black people throughout history, despite facing systemic barriers and oppression. Black History Month reminds me of the struggles and sacrifices made by those who came before and how they paved the way for our successes today. It’s a time to especially amplify Black voices and inspire future generations to continue the fight for true equality and justice.

What advice would you give to young Black professionals starting their careers who look around and might not see many people like them? Is there any advice you wish someone had given you?

My advice to young Black professionals is understand the importance of networking. Networking is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Don’t be afraid to seek out mentors and communities who support and uplift you, and don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself.

When you’re underrepresented in your chosen field, why is it important to have mentors and sponsors who are invested in you and your career?

Having mentors and sponsors who are invested in your success is so important because they can provide guidance, support, and opportunities throughout your legal career that you may not necessarily be aware of. Having someone who believes in you and your potential can also help counteract the feelings of isolation or imposter syndrome.

What are the benefits of joining affinity networks like the Black Affinity Group and the Black Professionals Network?

BAG provides a sense of community, solidarity, and belonging with my fellow colleagues who understand my experiences and challenges. Through BAG, I have access to professional development opportunities, mentorship, and community to help navigate life at Cleary and beyond. BAG also serve as a platform for advocacy and collective action, amplifying the voices of Black associates in the firm.

What is your favorite thing about working in the legal industry and why did you choose to work at Cleary?

I chose to work at Cleary primarily because of the mentorship and training the firm provides. The associates take their time to help train and teach their juniors and there is always the opportunity to gain experience on substantive matters early on.