My very first interaction with a Rutgers Law professor was perhaps the most meaningful interaction I had in law school.
When I was invited to Camden for Admitted Students Day, I expressed an interest in criminal law, particularly in white-collar crime and financial fraud investigations. When it came time for lunch, the Law Admissions department had rows of tables for people who were interested in various practices and were paired with professors who practiced in that field (i.e. students who were interested in public interest law had lunch with public interest professors). I happen to be the only student who sat at the “white-collar law” table. A gentleman approached me, introduced himself, and asked if he could sit with me.
My initial conversations described my apprehension of coming to law school and being the first in my family pursue a law degree. The gentlemen told me, “Hey, this is my first time as a professor at Rutgers too,” and assured me that if I put in the work, law school will be all right. This came as a shock to me because I already sensed a level of humbleness and wisdom from a man that I had met in a matter of minutes. We both talked about our backgrounds, hometowns, and our interests of the law. Before he left, he shared his email address and asked me to contact him whenever I had any questions or concerns. His name – Dr. Adnan Zulfiqar.
When I fast forward to my first semester of law school, I always came across Dr. Zulfiqar in the hallways and had friendly conversations with him. In fact, I prayed that I would have him for criminal law my second semester – and it turns out, those prayers were answered. I learned so much from Dr. Zulfiqar, and my passion for criminal law rose to another level. I knew that this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Now, I currently extern for the Department of Justice help U.S. Attorneys research various crimes within the 3rd Circuit. I am also a staff editor for the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion, where Dr. Zulfiqar serves as my mentor by discussing and helping me theorize a different perspective when writing my articles. Overall, I am fortunate that I met Dr. Zulfiqar and he serves as a true inspiration to first-generation students like me.
Meeting Dr. Zulfiqar made me realize one thing, law school is not about the law. It’s about the people meet and how you can learn from people who come from different backgrounds and cultures. You should never limit yourself, and YES, it is okay to be a little apprehensive about law school. It’s a part of the learning process, and in fact, it is a part of life. We will always many challenges in life, but as a wise man once told me: if you put in the work and prepare to spend long nights learning, law school will be all right.