Rutgers Law School-Newark Earns National Recognition for its Strong Commitment to Public Interest Law

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In remarks at the Rutgers–Newark 2007 homecoming, the Hon. Virginia Long ’66, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, spoke of “the spirit of altruism” fostered by the law school and the important lessons learned at her alma mater. “Rutgers Law School,” said Justice Long, “has taught those lessons to generations of law students and out of that unmolded clay has created an army of soldiers for justice, equality and inclusion.”

Rutgers School of Law–Newark continues to be recognized for its emphasis on the value of public service and the use of the law to advance the cause of social justice, most recently by prelaw Magazine. In the magazine’s ranking of “Best Law Schools for Public Interest” (Winter 2011), the law school received the number three spot. Law schools are ranked if they have one or more public interest clinics, faculty committees/administrators that oversee public interest, and a loan repayment assistance program. The top 20 law schools are then ranked based on their cost, placement, and curriculum.

Indeed, the school’s strong public service commitment is evident throughout the curriculum, particularly in its Clinical Program; in activities carried out under the Eric R. Neisser Public Interest Program; and in its Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP).

  • Clinical Program – “The clinical program is integral to fulfilling both our service and our education missions,” said Dean John J. Farmer, Jr. in announcing the appointment of Professor Jon Dubin as the first Associate Dean for Clinical Education. Students who enroll in one of the in-house, live-client clinics work on cases and projects with far-reaching impact under the supervision of faculty widely respected for their teaching and public service.

In recent news, the Child Advocacy Clinic won major appellate victories in both the New Jersey Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; the Constitutional Litigation Clinic petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its case challenging the war in Iraq; the Urban Legal Clinic helped gain the release of a wrongfully convicted client; and the Community Law Clinic helped the composer of a famous jazz composition reclaim rights to the song.

Professor Dubin was honored by the Garden State Bar Association for excellence in service, social justice and advocacy; Clinical Professor Charles Auffant received the outstanding junior faculty award from the Clinical Section of the Association of American Law Schools; and the Clinical Program was recognized by the Rutgers–Newark Chancellor for its 40 years’ of providing access to justice to members of the Newark and surrounding communities.

  • Neisser Program – Directed by Clinical Professor Laura Cohen and Jessica Kitson, Associate Director for Career Services, the program provides opportunities for students to explore public service through award-winning pro bono projects, fellowship programs and internships, and assists students interested in developing careers in public service.

Prestigious public service placements for the Class of 2011 include the U.S. Department of Justice’s Honors Program, Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and Brooklyn Defender Services. Summer 2010 internships included the Federal Public Defender’s Office, National Security Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, Equal Justice Initiative, Legal Services of New Jersey, the Urban Justice Center, the Documentation Center of Cambodia, and the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office.

Neisser Program pro bono initiatives include Street Law and the Domestic Violence Advocacy Project. Street Law, in which law students teach disadvantaged youth the practical aspects of the law and government, has received the Rutgers–Newark Chancellor’s Community Engagement Award, and its director, Alycia M. Guichard, has been honored by Rutgers University and the New Jersey State Bar Association.

  • LRAP – Recognized by Equal Justice Works as one of the most successful in the country, the program provides financial assistance to help reduce law school debt for alumni who are working in public interest/public service employment throughout the country. In the past 12 years, 167 alumni have shared more than $1.12 million in program benefits.

As prelaw Magazine stated, “The public service ethic is ingrained in the fabric of schools” like Rutgers-Newark.