New Rutgers Law alumnus Leonard Lancaster '23 reflects on his time as a Rutgers Law student in Newark and why his ultimate career goal is to close the gap in the legal industry.
Leonard Lancaster '23
Leonard Lancaster '23

As the first person in my family to attend law school, obtaining my Juris Doctorate is an accomplishment I share and attribute to my family, who have supported me throughout the process. Furthermore, becoming an attorney is an honor that I extend my utmost gratitude to those who came before me and paved the way so that my journey will ignite hope in those who will come after me.

Starting my law school journey off during Covid was a challenging experience. I left my home state to embark on a new journey. However, I fostered dynamic relationships among my peers, faculty, staff, and alums through organizations such as the Association of Black Law Students (ABLS) and the Minority Student Program (MSP). I gained meaningful mentors and lifelong friendships, pivotal in my professional and personal development throughout law school. 

While at Rutgers, I’ve had great opportunities to foster community, professional, and academic excellence. My professional experiences gave me insight and direction regarding my interest in the law. During my 1L summer, I worked in-house as a summer associate at PepsiCo, exploring employment law, privacy law, and, most importantly, human rights law matters. During my 2L year, I had the opportunity to participate in a fall internship with the New Jersey Attorney General's Office in the consumer affairs division, exposing me to the regulatory compliance of professional boards in New Jersey and campaign contribution statutes. During my 2L summer, I worked for Citibank in the legal compliance department working with state and federal banking regulations. After graduating and taking the bar in July, I will return to work for Citibank as a legal compliance attorney in New York City.

Participating in student organizations at Rutgers has allowed me to develop strong ties to the Rutgers law network and the Newark community. During my 2L year, I was the Vice President of Academic Affairs for ABLS, where I planned academic enrichment events, such as panels for 1L students with alumni and faculty. I also initiated multiple professional development events, including a local law firm partnership. Additionally, I served as an Associate Editor for the Race and Law Review before taking on the Notes and Comments Editor position in my 3L year. This year, I’ve also had the privilege of serving as a student attorney at the Housing Justice Tenant Solidarity Clinic, where I’ve represented individuals and groups of lower-income clients confronting various housing justice issues.

My ultimate career goal is to close the gap between minorities and the lack of access to the legal profession through mentorship by creating resources that enable students who look like me to become attorneys. Roughly 5% of all attorneys in America are Black. The only thing that separates more minorities from entering the legal profession is resources and opportunities. I aim to redefine success in a light that allows me to combine my professional and personal passions, uplift those who need support through pro bono work, and continue my dedication to mentoring other minorities entering the legal field.

I would not be here without the hard work and sacrifice of those who came before me. Regardless of where my career takes me, I must find ways to give back to those who so desperately need quality legal advocacy but cannot afford it. I firmly believe that our lives are not our own; they instead belong to the weak, the vulnerable, and the disenfranchised. I have a moral obligation to make sure I’m supporting them through zealous legal advocacy throughout my career. 

Leonard Lancaster '23

Leonard Lancaster

Leonard Lancaster received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2019. While at Rutgers Law, he was a student attorney in the Housing Justice and Solidarity Clinic and served as notes and comments editor for the “Rutgers Race and Law Review.” He was also an Association of Black Law Students (ABLS) mentor and Vice President of Academic Affairs for ABLS for the 2021-2022 school year. He will be working as a Legal Compliance Associate for Citibank in New York after taking the bar exam in July.