This year’s April 6th Rutgers Law School Minority Student Program banquet, attended by alumni, faculty and students, celebrated diversity, recognizing the program’s achievements in diversifying the law school and the legal profession over the last 49 years, and also encouraging students to continue to support the program, and social justice initiatives, after they graduate and enter the workforce.
Yvette Bravo-Weber, dean of the MSP program, said despite the great progress made since the program started in 1968, there are many challenges that still exist in the United States - uncertainty for the undocumented community, worries about health care, civil rights for refugees and fear among our own citizens. She encouraged the attendees to continue to work for justice, “We rededicate ourselves to diversity, inclusivity and opportunity.”
Co-dean Ron Chen ’83 spoke about how this year of national changes has invigorated many lawyers to be moved to action. He highlighted work done through the law school including the Rutgers Law Associates, which offers legal help to low-income people, and the Rutgers Law clinics, which provide immigration and constitutional rights services to clients. He said a recent executive order has hit close to home, affecting 70-80 Rutgers students who come from countries listed in a travel ban.
The year’s keynote speaker and honoree was Jeffrey Hsi ’97, a shareholder at Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, who specializes in intellectual property and patent law. He called his experience with MSP “transformational” and said that through its support MSP becomes a second family for the participants in the program. As the MSP program heads into its 50th year, he challenged the law alumni and students to defend it and said that, as is true in a family, they have a responsibility to keep in contact with each other and to support the program financially.
Hsi added that if each MSP graduate made a financial contribution to the program, there would be enough money for summer internships for all current MSP students. “That is the power of family,” he said. For attorneys working in private practice, it could be a donation commensurate to a few hours of their work time. “I’m issuing a call to action for making the MSP family stronger,” he said.
Dean Chen announced that in kicking off his challenge Hsi has agreed to pledge $250,000 to MSP, and to lead a yearlong campaign to double the size of the MSP fund.
Also honored at the banquet were three graduating students. Abdul Rehman Khan and Alaina Thomas were recognized with Community Service Awards, Madison Riede received the Academic Achievement Award, and Leslyn Moore was selected to represent the graduating class as the student speaker.
“Now more than ever, we need to recommit ourselves to the principles of diversity and inclusion, but I would argue we need to strive to incorporate the principles of freedom, justice and equality,” Moore said. “We have a responsibility to use our privilege and access to insure that we work to continue to change the legal profession.”