New Jersey’s Attorney General Gurbir Grewal challenged Rutgers Law students to get involved in some of the top issues that need legal attention today – including gun safety, civil rights, and protecting the environment.
Grewal spoke to law students in Newark and Camden about applying for a new Honors Program with the Attorney General’s Office. He said recent graduates and newly-admitted lawyers who are accepted into the competitive two-year Honors Program, are likely to be hired by his office once they’ve completed the program.
He said the Honors Program would be a good fit for students who have a passion in public service and promised those who are accepted will be active in litigation and policy work, and won’t simply be doing research for other attorneys. “We want to build something here in New Jersey,” he said. “We are bringing in young, bright, passionate lawyers. Give us two years of your lives and we will give you real substantive work...You can make a difference in policy and help us build a model for the rest of the country.”
The two-year program allows participants to work in one of six issue areas: civil rights; consumer financial protection; data privacy & cybersecurity; environment; gun safety & gun violence; and public integrity.
Grewal also traced his own journey of working in the public sector, describing growing up as a Sikh in New Jersey and being targeted after the events of 9/11. “I woke up one day and was made to feel not like an American,” he recalled. Grewal said he noticed an absence of Sikh people working in the public domain – as police officers, firefighters and lawyers – and made a decision to move his career into the public sector, in part to promote tolerance and acceptance in others.
He worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York, and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, and also as the Bergen County Prosecutor. Gov. Phil Murphy chose him to become the state Attorney General upon taking office in 2018.
Grewal said he accepted the job with Murphy “because I felt a deep desire to give back to this country” adding that there is a climate of assaults on Constitutional norms, the rule of law, and basic decency. He said the job of “Attorneys General have never mattered more” and that it is up to attorneys generals across the United States to fight against wrongs the federal government will not fix – including fighting against ending DACA, fighting for environmental regulations, and fighting to uphold consumer protections.
“We’ve been standing in, we don’t do this because it’s popular or fun,” he said. “We do it because that’s what the moment requires.”
He closed by offering practical advice to applicants who must apply for the Honors Program by October 26. Grewal told students to familiarize themselves with the work the Attorney General’s office is doing in New Jersey and have meaningful questions during the interview process. The inaugural class will begin employment in September 2019. To get more information or to apply, visit the AG’s Honors Program website.