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Law Alumna Virginia Long Will Address 247th Commencement

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Retired  NJ Supreme Court Justice Will Be Keynoter May 19

The Honorable Virginia Long, retired associate justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court and a 2001 inductee to Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni, will be the keynote speaker at Rutgers’ 247th anniversary Commencement Sunday, May 19, it was announced at today’s Board of Governors meeting.

Long was one of only four women to earn a Doctor of Laws degree in the Rutgers School of Law-Newark’s 125-member Class of 1966. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Dunbarton College of Holy Cross in Washington, D.C. Long will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the 12:30 p.m. universitywide graduation ceremony at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway.

A respected member of the New Jersey bar for more than 40 years, Long was appointed to the state’s high court in 1999 – only the third woman to join – by Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and granted tenure in 2006. She chaired and served as a member of numerous Supreme Court committees, including Extrajudicial Activities and Judicial Performance. She retired from the bench last year.

As one of the first women judges of her time, Long paved the way for other women in law. During her illustrious career, she wrote more than 2,000 opinions ranging from zoning laws to sexual abuse claims against clergy to death penalty cases. Arguably, she is best known for her stance related to the death penalty, which she believed was impossible to apply rationally and consistently. With others, she has been credited with informing the decision of the New Jersey Legislature to abolish the death penalty entirely in 2007.

At present, Long is of counsel at Fox Rothschild LLP, Princeton, which she joined in March 2012. She assists clients with ethics and appellate matters, corporate governance and governmental integrity investigations.

She also serves as a mediator and arbitrator providing dispute resolution alternatives. Additionally, she spearheads the firm’s pro bono efforts in New Jersey. A member of the board of directors of the Centurion Ministries, a nonreligious and nonprofit agency, Long works with her colleagues to provide free legal services for incarcerated individuals in the United States and Canada who are factually innocent of their crimes. She was named to the working group formed to discuss pro bono service requirements for prospective bar applicants by the Chief Justice of New Jersey. She also is a member of the board of trustees of Legal Services of New Jersey.

Besides her 15 years on the Appellate Division and 12 years as a pivotal player on the Supreme Court, Long previously served as deputy attorney general for the state of New Jersey, as director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and as commissioner of the former New Jersey Department of Banking. In addition to these roles, she spent many years as a judge in other New Jersey courts.

Long has received numerous commendations for her work. Her law alma mater gave Long the 1999 Fannie Bear Besser Award for Public Service. In 2001, she was honored as a New Jersey Woman of Achievement.

Among her other honors are the 2013 James J. McLaughlin Award by the Civil Practice Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association. In 2012, she received the Marie L. Garibaldi Award for Distinguished Service and Excellence from the Women in the Profession Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association and the Serpentelli Award from the New Jersey State Bar Association Family Law Section.

A fellow of the American Bar Foundation since 1984, Long is a member of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, the New Jersey Law Revision Commission, the New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board, and the New Jersey State Bar Association.

Long is married to attorney Jonathan Weiner and is the mother of three and grandmother of five.

Long declined to accept a $35,000 honorarium from her alma mater to be the keynote speaker.