July 25, 2023
Bancroft Raising the Bar
Dante Esser ’23, James Wellons, Bancroft’s Chief Legal Officer, and Mubdi R. Sanni-Thomas ’23

Newark native Mubdi R. Sanni-Thomas ’23 wants to be a corporate attorney. Since high school, he says he has wanted to deal with business transactions, including negotiating, drafting contracts, and all aspects of the transactional side of the law, in addition to counseling corporations on various legal matters.

“I aim to use my expertise in business law to help clients navigate complex legal issues and make informed decisions that support their strategic objectives,” he said.

A new one-year internship program helped him on his way as he prepared for the intense bar exam.

Initiated by former Rutgers Law Co-Dean Kim Mutcherson, the “Raising the Bar” paid internship program pairs third-year Minority Student Program (MSP) students in Camden with employers for part-time internships during the academic year. The goal is to provide additional professional development and financial support as students prepare to enter the legal profession.

MSP’s Assistant Dean in Camden, Rhasheda Douglas, says the program will help defray bar exam expenses, lessening stress during an already stressful time. She said, “With the price of commercial bar exam programs currently ranging from $2,000 to approximately $4,000 and living expenses that will accrue during the two months of bar exam preparation, a graduating MSP student would need financial resources to cover up to $8,000 in expenses for bar exam preparation.”

There’s a bigger benefit in addition to lessening costs. The program is helping to create more diversity in the legal profession. Studies show law students from communities of color are often disadvantaged when preparing for the bar exam due to having fewer financial resources and more family caretaker responsibilities. Drawing from recent data, law students with more financial support are more likely to succeed on the bar exam, which in turn decreases the racial disparity gap in bar passage rates.

Mubdi R. Sanni-Thomas ’23
Mubdi R. Sanni-Thomas ’23

Mubdi and Dante Esser ’23 of Willingboro, New Jersey, were selected in the first “Raising the Bar” cohort to intern at Bancroft, a regional nonprofit that provides programs and services for individuals with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities and those in need of neurological rehabilitation.

Mubdi said, “The internship with Bancroft has provided me with practical exposure to the legal profession and has helped me develop essential skills such as legal research, writing, and analysis,” he said. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with experienced attorneys on real cases and projects, which has helped me understand the practical applications of legal theories.”

James Wellons, Bancroft’s Chief Legal Officer, said the program is an exceptional opportunity for his organization to support future attorneys while introducing them to the nonprofit sector. “Bancroft is positioned to attract high-caliber talent in support of our legal, risk management, and compliance functions while at the same time giving minority law students meaningful work experience and financial support at a critical juncture of their transition to the legal profession.  It's a win-win for everyone!”

Gabriella Greenhoward '23
Gabriella Greenhoward '23

American Water provided an internship to Gabriella Greenhoward ’23 through the program. Gabriella, a Queens, New York native, said the internship allowed her to observe the inner workings of a regulated utility company.

She added, “Not only did I work on legal research and writing, but I also listened in on business meetings with representatives from across the company. I saw how the legal department’s work fits into the larger operation. This perspective will be invaluable as I begin my work in the fall.” This fall, Gabriella will begin work as a first-year associate at Cullen and Dykman in New York City, where she served as a summer associate for the last two summers. During her first summer with Cullen and Dykman, Gabriella interned with American Water for part of that summer.   

Debbie Albrecht, American Water’s Vice President, Chief Rates & Regulatory Counsel, added, American Water hopes that by partnering in this program, it can impact communities in the education system, help create growing and sustainable diversity within the legal profession, and generate an interest and enthusiasm in the utility industry among young professionals.”

Debbie Albrecht, Gabriella Greenhoward '23, and MSP Camden Asst. Dean Rhasheda Douglas '02
Debbie Albrecht, American Water Vice President, Gabriella Greenhoward '23, and MSP Camden Asst. Dean Rhasheda Douglas '02

MSP is a nationally acclaimed and highly successful post-admissions program that serves students of any race or ethnicity who are members of groups that are underrepresented in the legal profession and have faced discrimination or overcome social and economic hardships. The program takes a proactive approach to help students to succeed by offering legal skills development, academic support, alumni mentoring and networking, internships, and other opportunities.

“Rutgers Law School takes great pride in our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and we are indebted to our committed alumni and other supporters who provide financial assistance to our students and to our institutional efforts to attract, retain, and provide a solid career foundation for outstanding MSP law students who are from communities that are historically under-represented in the legal profession,” said Dean Douglas.

American Water

Rutgers Law Media Contact:
Shanida Carter

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