February 26, 2019
Nakul Shah '17, center, is flanked by his sister, on the left and his mother on the right, at his Rookie of the Year celebration.

Nakul Shah RLAW’17 spent his first year after graduating from Rutgers Law School working for the New York City Law Department.

He was assigned to the Special Federal Litigation Division, which defends the city in civil rights cases filed in federal court. 

It didn’t take long for Shah to catch the attention of his supervisors, who had this to say about him, ““From the very start of his time in Special Fed, Nakul has brought a strong and consistent work ethic to each task he has been assigned. As a result, Nakul’s work product is exemplary.”

Though he had worked as an intern for the city law department, Shah admitted that his first year on the job was challenging.

“The learning curve at the New York City Law Department is particularly steep, as each Assistant Corporation Counsel handles their own independent case load from initial pleadings until final resolution,” he said. “Therefore, as a first year attorney, I was tasked with not only understanding the nuances of the complex field of litigation but also the demanding standards of federal practice.”

Shah’s hard work paid off, and the New York City Law Department awarded him the “Rookie of the Year” honor, after he was nominated by his supervisor.

“Nakul’s positive and amiable character has not only endeared him to his clients and colleagues, but it also makes him an effective courtroom advocate. Already, two separate federal judges have complimented Nakul on his in-court presentations,” said the law department in a written article about Shah. 

He said he was “thrilled” to be honored as Rookie of the Year, “Being awarded this distinction was a testament to the hard work of that first year and gave me added confidence in my litigation abilities.”

A native of Jersey City, Shah, 27, attended Rutgers University as an undergraduate and said he chose Rutgers Law because of its commitment to public service.

The son of Indian immigrants, Shah said his parents, who were not able to attend college, supported he and his sister in attaining a higher education. Both Shah and his sister Tanya Shah earned law degrees. Nakul Shah credits his sister as being a role model and mentor. Tanya Shah, who also attended Rutgers as an undergraduate, also went to work in the New York City Law Department and was chosen as Rookie of the Year in 2015.

“Bringing a second Rookie of the Year title to my family was an enormous honor,” he said.

While in law school, Shah served as the secretary of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, secretary of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society, a teaching fellow in the Minority Student Program, a Justice Stewart G. Pollock Fellow and a pupil for the C. Willard Heckel Inn of Court.

The secret to Shah’s success? “Rutgers Law School provided me with a strong foundation of substantive legal knowledge, as well as practical litigation skills that help me excel every day in practice,” said Shah. He credited Professor George Thomas’s Criminal Procedure class for introducing him to Fourth Amendment jurisprudence and his work with the Civil Justice Clinic in teaching him how to manage a case load and plan litigation decisions.

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

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