Rutgers Law School is committed to providing students with meaningful pro bono opportunities that instill an ethic of service, while providing much needed legal assistance to the broader community. Through the program, our students develop skills in professional responsibility, problem solving, and leadership, while also internalizing an ethic of service that is central to the legal profession. Moreover, through their engagement in our pro bono program, our students enhance their legal knowledge and professional networks. The goal is for all Rutgers Law School students to develop the skills and inclination to work for social justice throughout their careers, whether in a public interest setting or through pro bono work.
Helping Our Communities
Students choose Rutgers Law School because they want to serve where the need is greatest. Our communities of Camden and Newark are the perfect cities in which to provide direct services and develop an appreciation for structural inequities. Students perform pro bono work in a variety of settings—most of our projects are in-house partnerships with legal services providers, focused on bankruptcy, disability rights, educational equity, Iraqi refugee assistance, prisoner reentry, and many other areas. In addition, students often gain approval to work with entities such as the Domestic Violence Unit of the Camden County Family Court and the ACLU. In addition, there are spring break projects specifically to assist New Jersey victims of Hurricane Sandy and in locations such as New Orleans.
Public Interest Programs
In 2015, the Law School announced the Maida Public Interest Fellows Program, which each year funds one post-graduate public interest fellowship and approximately 40 summer fellowships at public interest legal organizations throughout the state of New Jersey and beyond. The Maidas’ $1 million gift elevated Rutgers Law School and its already outstanding program into the very top echelon of public law schools for support of public interest lawyering. Supplementing the Maida Fellowships are funds raised by our student public interest groups, APIL in Camden and PILSA in Newark.
In 2016, the Law School introduced the Social Justice Scholars Program, which recognizes admitted students committed to public service by providing partial tuition scholarships for all years of law school; presumptive summer funding; faculty mentors; and admission in a noncredit workshop series designed to hone their skills and focus on social justice and civil rights issues. The Law School also offers several selective fellowship programs, including the Wenk (ACLU internship); Kinoy-Stavis (Constitutional Litigation); Immigration; Educational Access and Advocacy; LGBTQ Advocacy; and Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy fellowships.
Each year, the law school honors those students who complete more than 50 or 100 hours of pro bono service. Students planning to practice in New York State should be aware that 50 hours of experiential learning are a prerequisite for admission to the state bar and that they must meet specific requirements.
How do I find out more?
Some pro bono projects are tied to a specific location. For a full list of location-based projects and additional information on the wide range of pro bono and public interest opportunities available to Rutgers Law School students, please visit the Camden or Newark sites or contact Associate Dean Jill Friedman, 856-225-6263 or Assistant Dean, Susan Feathers, 973-353-3079.
Public interest means that I am able to use my legal degree to help the little guy who would otherwise be at a disadvantage trying to take on an adversarial system alone. Through Rutgers Law school I have been able to gain a lot of hands-on experience giving back to the community in many different capacities which will allow me to go forward after I graduate and feel confident in my legal work.