Meet Nilaja Ford, Esq. RLAW '19 is a Special Deputy Attorney General/Acting Assistant Prosecutor and an American Bar Association Fellow.
How did Rutgers Law - activities, professors, classes, prepare you for what you are doing now?
Rutgers Law in Newark has a very social justice oriented mission. I learned about the gaps in the criminal justice system, how to think about family dynamics and also to consider the social justice issues surrounding both. I work in the Bail Reform and Domestic Violence Units now.
Were you involved in any activities at law school?
I was the Student Director of the Volunteer Lawyers for Justice Pro Bono projects and I participated heavily in their Divorce Clinic where I assisted unrepresented litigants with filing for divorce. I also was a Courtroom Advocate for Sanctuary for Families in New York, where I assisted victims of domestic violence and helped them get restraining orders. I was a MSP Student and then MSP mentor, I worked on the Street Law Program and I worked on a program called RU Black and Blue.
What do you wish you knew as a law student you'd like to tell current law students?
Classroom law, bar exam law and law in reality (real life) are very different. Understand what stage you are in and adapt your understanding accordingly. Also, take a deep breath - you will get through it.
Is it important for young alumni to stay engaged at Rutgers?
Networking is one of the most important things you can do in your career. Part of the reason why is because law in essence is a service field. We need clients and one of the best ways to do that is for people to know what you do so that they can refer you to clients. Also, I have felt tremendous support from Rutgers Alum through my legal career. I am currently serving on the Executive Board for the Rutgers Alumnae Network. I encourage all of the women of Rutgers Law to join - for support and sisterhood.
I went to Rutgers Preparatory School (7th-12th grade) and went to Rutgers College for undergrad (now the School of Arts and Sciences) in addition to Rutgers Law. Also, more about my journey was chronicled in Essence Magazine last year.