As a member of the Rutgers Law School Minority Student Program (MSP), I get to go to a lot of networking events—often on campus. Over the summer, I participated in the Summer Jump Start program, where I could take my first-year contracts class early with other incoming 1Ls. Taking one class and immersing myself in MSP was a great way to network, meet attorneys, and connect what I was doing in the classroom to what I hope to do in practice.
One of our first MSP networking trips was to visit the law firm to Capehart Scatchard in South Jersey—the only South Jersey firm with a female managing shareholder, Mary Ellen Rose RLAW'86. We also met with their hiring shareholder, Sanu Dev RLAW'11, and heard from third-year Rutgers Law student Courtney Crosby, who was interning at this female majority firm.
Toward the end of summer, Assistant Dean of the Minority Student Program Rhasheda Douglas held an MSP Soiree and panel, entitled “What I Wish I Knew in Law School.” It featured distinguished Rutgers Law alumni, including Judge Charles Dortch, Angella Middleton, Melissa Martinez, Steven Okoye, Roy H. Gordon, and Jeanette Kwon. So many other wonderful judges and attorneys of color attended the soiree. It was networking, but it also felt like a community.
I was particularly grateful to meet Angella Middleton RLAW'14 from the panel and soiree. She is now a litigation attorney at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr. After meeting her, I wrote to her and she agreed to have coffee with me. She took the time to meet with me and I felt like I made my first real professional connection.
Upon searching Middleton’s name I came across her book, Life Lessons Learned in Law School, which talks about the lessons she learned as a law student at Rutgers and how she developed as a person throughout her journey of studying law. As I read her book, I felt inspired by her stories of becoming president of BLSA during her 2L year, growing in her faith in Christ while being a law student, and experiences participating in mock trial and law journals. She talks about grades, refining her study techniques, being of service to others through practicing law, and the way her law school journey affirmed that she was meant to do this.
As I think about who I want to become as a law student and person, I feel inspired by the attorneys like Middleton that I've met with at MSP networking events. As a 1L, I’m immersed in classes that feel largely theoretical; meeting people working in the profession helps connect what I’m learning with my eventual dream of becoming a practicing attorney.
Networking is important because it can remind law students of what our goals are and what we are working toward. I’m so grateful for the networking opportunities through MSP that allow me to get to know members of the profession and bridge the gap between what I’m learning and what I hope to do.