Expertise and Encouragement Shared with Students
It started at the clock tower.
Eliot Schuman ’75 kissed his daughter goodbye as she began her first year as an ILRie.
Promising her that he would get back in the swing of Cornell life, he started by serving on the ILR Alumni Association Board.
It wasn’t until five years later, after Rachael Schuman ’13 had graduated and her brother, Paul Schuman ’17, was an ILR sophomore, that their father began coaching Cornell’s Mock Trial Association, which is based at the ILR School.
Schuman grew up in Yonkers, the only child of a music school teacher and furrier. He graduated from ILR and law school, then went into commercial litigation, spending most of his career as a personal injury plaintiff’s attorney.
As a volunteer, he has coached the team since 2015, frequently traveling from Westchester County to Ithaca and tournaments across the country with Heidi Schuman, his wife, often joining him.
Emma LoMastro ’20, now a student at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, recalled meeting Eliot at her second practice. “He offered to meet with anyone on the team that weekend to discuss anything related to mock trial. As a first-semester freshman with a million questions, I took him up on his offer. Eliot met with me at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Collegetown and answered all of them. He took time out of his day to make an extremely junior member of the team feel welcome and heard.”
“As a junior on the team, I struggled with closing statements. Eliot spent hours with me before tournaments and on tournament weekends practicing my closing statements one-on-one. After he worked with me, he would move on to the next student.
“Eliot put more hours in than any of us because he worked with everyone to make sure their materials and understanding was perfect.”
“When I felt down after a particularly rough closing statement after regionals my junior year, Eliot provided support and guidance when he could have been on his way back home. His support helped me see the benefits of mock trial and lawyering in the moments when I felt most discouraged.”
Recent Harvard Law School graduate Laura Bach ’16, in a written tribute, said that more than sharing expertise with students, Schuman is “a mentor and friend to kids in a demanding environment who are trying to figure out what comes next.”
“From mentorship to recommendation letters to friendship, I feel so fortunate that you (and Heidi) have become a part of my extended Cornellian family. Thank you.”