This year, Rutgers Law School welcomes three new instructors in Newark.
Kelley Deere and Amy Widman are both Assistant Clinical Professors who teach Legal Analysis, Writing, Research and Skills (LAWRS). Eileen Pizzurro is the Director of Academic Support and Bar Studies. In their own words, they share what it means to be teaching at Rutgers Law and the journey that brought them here.
While this position is new for me, I am not new to Rutgers. I have taught LAWRS since January 2015 teaching for two years as an adjunct in the part-time evening program and then for one year in the full-time day program. Last year, I had a full-time visiting position and taught two sections during the day.
As a LAWRS professor, I teach students how to "think" as lawyers. I like to use a varied approach involving interactive presentations, class exercises and assignments to reinforce key concepts in analysis, research, and writing. On one day, I may make a group of students get up out of their seats and argue why a statute does not apply to their client. On another day, I may have students work in pairs to write a demand letter to an adversary. And on other days, I may divide students into teams and compete in "Grammar Jeopardy" or "Passive Voice Feud." All of these lessons are designed to help the students develop key lawyering skills.
I couldn't be more thrilled to be on the faculty here at Rutgers. I worked as a litigator and then a public interest lawyers for about ten years before I took some time off to have a family. About 8 years ago, I went back to work as "Of Counsel" at a small New Jersey law firm and as an adjunct first at Seton Hall Law school in its legal writing program in 2011 before moving to Rutgers Law school in 2015. I consider "teaching" my second career. It is what I love and feel that I do best.
I am honored to join a law school like Rutgers with such a strong commitment to community and social justice. Rutgers fills a vitally important role as a public law school.
My background is in policy work and teaching. After working in legislation and policy related to environmental and consumer protection, I began teaching at Northern Illinois University College of Law. At NIU, I taught torts, administrative law, federal courts, legislation, and advanced writing seminars in areas of legislation and regulatory law.
I returned to the East Coast a few years ago to work as Deputy Director at the National Center for Access to Justice at Fordham Law School. At NCAJ, I worked on multiple projects focused on using data to increase access to civil justice, and I co-taught a policy advocacy seminar. I enjoyed that work immensely and plan to continue my involvement in access to justice issues through my research, but I also realized that missed teaching full-time.
Teaching analysis and writing skills, and working closely with students to help them make sense of this new way of synthesizing and structuring ideas, is incredibly fulfilling. I am very happy to be back in a 1L classroom again.
Students bring energy to the law, they are the future of our profession. I am inspired every day to play a role in their development toward becoming members of the bar. I hope I can help students understand how to use the tools needed to do all the things that made them want to go to law school in the first place.
My job is to help students develop the skills necessary to succeed in law school and on the bar exam. These skills include, in part, the ability to read and understand, organize and apply the law, as well as time and stress management. I know that students have different learning styles, backgrounds and experiences that affect their learning and performance in law school, and it is my job to help them develop the best way for them to thrive.
Before coming to Rutgers I practiced law in both New York and New Jersey for almost 15 years, both at a large national law firm and a smaller local firm. I am thrilled to be training new lawyers in my adopted home state of New Jersey, especially to such a wonderfully diverse, intelligent and inspiring community of students. The Rutgers students and their commitment to excellence and social justice amaze me on a daily basis.
In terms of advice, I want to emphasize that learning to think like a lawyer, like any complex task, is a collaborative process, and I, as well as the entire faculty and administration, are here to work with students to reach their full potential. Everyone needs support at some point in his or her law school career.
And that’s why I consider my job as Director of Academic Support and Bar Studies to be a pleasure. If a student needs help, I am here to help in whatever way I can. Make an appointment with me for any reason—to discuss study skills, academic performance, academic counseling, bar exam-related issues, and methods to improve or maintain academic performance.