August 25, 2021
Neeraja Aravindan RLAW '24 switched her focus from science to law and plans to become and advocate for others.

Talk about your journey to law school

In 2019, I graduated from William & Mary in Virginia with a degree in biology and a minor in Public Health. While I loved thinking with the scientific method, it was clear that neither laboratory research nor a clinical profession was a good career fit for me. After casting a wide net for jobs in science communication, I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to work at TED Conferences as a researcher. I spent two years preventing the spread of misinformation by fact-checking scripts of TED talks and podcasts for mistakes and misrepresentation. This work led me to consider interesting questions about disinformation and the legal structures that enable the distribution of “bad” information online. I realized that I wanted to develop a different skill set to analyze these issues, specifically writing, reading, and oral advocacy – and I turned to law school!

What appealed to you about Rutgers Law? 

I was drawn to Rutgers Law because of its tight-knit and robust intellectual community, as well as the school's commitment to diversity and inclusion. I was also excited to join the Rutgers Institute for Information Policy and Technology (RIPPL). This Fall, I am excited to work as a research assistant for Professor Goodman studying global policy related to AI and algorithm use in the public sector. Rutgers also generously offered me a position in the Rayman L. Solomon Scholars Program at Rutgers Camden, which provides additional financial and academic support for students interested in public service.

When applying to Rutgers, I heard about the Minority Student Program (MSP) and was excited at the prospect of building a community with other students from underrepresented populations from the very start of law school. This summer, I had the opportunity to meet some MSP alumni and was overwhelmed by their generosity and warmth. It is an honor to have been selected for such a historic program.

Talk about yourself and your background

I was born in India and grew up in West Windsor, New Jersey. While I am the first person in my family to go to law school, I recently learned that my late grandfather, Narayana Iyer Ramanathan, used to work in the Indian customs tribunal system despite not having a formal degree in law. As a Customs official in India, my grandfather represented the government in the tribunal system in issues regarding customs and excise tax law. But after retiring from the government, my grandfather became a legal consultant and defended people who were under scrutiny from the government. He even presented oral and written arguments in court against the same colleagues he used to work with. My grandfather himself was inspired by his own grandfather who practiced law in India until the age of 102! I am so inspired by my grandfather’s experiences, and hope to have the same ingenuity throughout my legal career.

What are your post-law school career goals?

I hope to leave law school with a strong and diverse skill set that I can put to good use as an advocate. While my academic interests are currently in media and technology law, my goal is to remain open-minded throughout law school about potential practice areas. Regardless of the field I enter, I intend to be intellectually engaged and always involved in the larger conversation for justice, inclusion, and advocacy.

Anything else you'd like to add

This summer, I participated in the Jump Start program, an academic opportunity unique to Rutgers Camden. Jump Start is a great way for students to become familiar with the “ABCs” of law school while getting ahead with one of the core first year classes. Even though it is a significant time commitment during the last summer before law school, it provided invaluable lessons in time management and preparation for class and exams. I am starting my 1L year with some friends from Jump Start and am taking three, rather than four, classes this semester, both of which have made my transition to law school that much easier.

Rutgers Law Media Contacts:
Mike Sepanic (Camden); Elizabeth Moore (Newark)

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