Incoming Rutgers Law School student Adebisi Ibitoye is a native of one of the 27 countries represented in the 2022-2023 first year class. She came to New Jersey from Nigeria and took advantage of the Law School’s 3+3 Program, which allows students to earn their undergraduate and law degrees in six years instead of seven. “If you had told me five years ago that I’d be here, I’d probably say, ‘Maybe, I’m not sure,’” she said. “I’m happy that I made my younger self happy to be here and I know [we all] are going to do well.”
Ibitoye is one of 400 first year and 20 transfer students to enter Rutgers Law School on Monday, August 15. Between sessions, she bumped into her former mentor, 2L student Sarah Elgalad. Both are graduates of the Rutgers-Newark Honors Living-Learning Community and are now members of the 1,300+ Rutgers Law student body who will be equipped and prepared to enter a wide variety of legal fields.
“The world changes, albeit slowly, and lawyers, good lawyers, are agents of change in ways big and small,” said Camden Co-Dean Mutcherson. She continued, “We hope you’re proud to have chosen a law school that will strive to inculcate in all of you a commitment to the active pursuit of justice wherever your future legal career takes you.”
Newark Co-Dean Cuison-Villazor reminded the entering class of Rutgers Law’s “tradition of academic excellence [and] focus on inclusivity.” She added, “This class reflects the Law School’s commitment to diversity and providing access to groups underrepresented in the legal profession.” Dean Cuison-Villazor went on to share the statistics of the diverse incoming class:
- 38% identify as Black, Latinx, Asian American, Native American, or Middle Eastern
- Nearly 48% identify as women
- 31% are first generation college graduates
- 64% are first generation professional/law students
- 27 countries are represented including South Korea, China, Estonia, Nigeria, Turkey, and Dominican Republic
Dean Mutcherson remarked that choosing Rutgers Law meant that the incoming students have “entered a community in which a commitment to social justice is a core value.” That tenet is one of the reasons Noland Deas says he chose Rutgers Law. “There’s a big focus on helping people, and that really drew me in, so it got me excited to apply,” said the Richmond, Virginia native.
Approximately 70 incoming part-time students had in-person orientations as well as virtual portions of the week-long programming. All students took the New Jersey State Bar Association Lawyer’s Pledge. They also heard from upper-division law students, alumni, and deans in addition to participating in small, faculty-led group discussions on the book, “White Space, Black Hood: Opportunity Hoarding and Segregation in the Age of Inequality” by Professor Sheryll Cashin. New students on both campuses had the option of taking walking tours of its respective surrounding neighborhood. In Camden, students may also participate in a service project supporting Cathedral Kitchen, a non-profit whose goal is to alleviate food insecurity in a long-term, sustainable fashion.
Rutgers Law is also welcoming several new faculty for the 2022-2023 academic year. Associate Professor Leonore Carpenter joins Rutgers Law from Temple Law School with a research focus on social change, legal ethics, public interest, and social movements. Professor Shani King is experienced in international and transnational law, human rights, and children’s advocacy. He was most recently Director of the University of Florida College of Law Center on Children and Families. Associate Professor Sarah Swan comes to Rutgers Law from the Florida State University College of Law. Her scholarship explores local government law and institutional and corporate responsibility in facilitating or failing to prevent sexual assault, among other issues. Assistant Professor Elenore Wade joins Rutgers Law from the George Washington University Law School with research focuses on equal justice, public benefits, and welfare rights.
Other faculty joining Rutgers Law include Visiting Clinical Professor Caryn Schreiber and Visiting Associate Professor Greg Baltz, who will spearhead Housing Justice projects in Camden and Newark respectively. Rutgers Law is also welcoming the first cohort of Diversity and Inclusion Fellows in Camden. This fellowship program seeks to help candidates from groups under-represented in legal academia prepare themselves to go on the law teaching job market. The Fellows, Andrea Johnson and Margaret Zhang, will spend the next two years at Rutgers Law in Camden teaching, writing, and receiving mentorship from senior colleagues.