Rutgers University School of Law (Rutgers Law) is the oldest law school in the State of New Jersey with campuses in both Newark and Camden. Rutgers Law’s unique history led to the formation of the two-campus system since the school’s history can be traced back to three separate law schools. The consolidation of those schools into one took place between 1946 and 1950, which also made Rutgers Law one of the largest law schools in the country. In the late 1960s, responding to racial tension in New Jersey, the law school started one of the first minority students program intended to boost African-American enrollment. The program continues today with a focus on recruiting all economically disadvantaged students. Rutgers Law has been home to a number of distinguished professors include current Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The school’s alumni include Senator Elizabeth Warren.
The first-year curriculum at Rutgers Law is standardized for students on both campuses. Students take six core academic courses: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Students at the Newark campus can take either a course in legal analysis, research, and writing or one in simply legal analysis. Students on the southern campus in Camden must take the two-semester course on legal analysis, research, and writing.
Upper-class students are only required to complete a course in professional responsibility, complete an upper-level writing project, and complete six hours of experiential learning. Students must complete a total of 84-course credits of which nine hours may be satisfied through experiential learning. Students are otherwise free to chart their own academic paths to meet their academic and career goals. Between both campuses, Rutgers Law offers one of the most complete course offerings in the country. Students also have the option of applying for one of the schools’ four certifications–business law, criminal law, family law, and immigration law. These four areas all represent practice areas of noted strengths at Rutgers Law.
Rutgers Law offers a number of flexible programs to help students of various statute earn the Juris Doctorate degree. For students who graduated from foreign law schools, Rutgers Law offers an accelerated Juris Doctor program that can be completed in two rather than three years. Students are given two semesters of credit for their initial law degree. In the accelerated program, students take the traditional first-year curriculum followed by a second year of elective courses.
Undergraduate students at Rutgers Law may also begin their first year of law school during their final year of their undergraduate studies allowing them to complete their undergraduate and law degree in a total of six years. The “3 + 3” program requires students to complete certain required courses in their first three years of undergraduate studies prior to beginning their law school studies.
Students enrolled at the Camden campus also have the opportunity to begin their studies in the summer semester allowing them to approach the remainder of the academic careers at a moderated pace for their first semester. This moderated pace allows students to adjust to the rigors of the first-year curriculum.
Career and Career Placement
Based on recent graduation statistics, over 90% of all Rutgers Law graduates are employed within 10 months of graduation. Over 82% of graduates are employed in careers requiring a law license or preferring a Juris Doctor degree. Remarkably, over 55% of employed students were awarded judicial clerkships in New Jersey state or local courts. Over 28% of students pursued law firm work with students most often working in smaller law firms of less than ten attorneys. Other popular career paths include government offices or public interest work (12%) or careers in the business sector (12%). New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania accounted for the locations for most graduates first career.
Between its two campuses, the Rutgers Law Career Development Center (CDC) staffs nine professionals who offer students on both campuses a range of career related services. Students begin one-on-one counseling in their first semester of law school to help plan out a career path. The offices execute job fairs and several on-campus recruiting events throughout the year. Rutgers Law maintains a substantial online legal job database available to students and alumni. Students also are connected with the over 20,000 Rutgers Law alumni who work in all types of legal careers.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Rutgers is a leader in experiential learning especially in the field of legal writing. The school’s legal writing program is ranked as one of the top 20 programs in the nation. During their first two semesters, students learn the fundamental concepts of legal writing in a number of forms. These legal writing skills are also the building blocks for later skill-based practicum courses.
Rutgers Law is also considered one of the top clinical schools in the country. The law school houses a number of legal clinics that actively serve the surrounding community in a number of legal matters. Students gain hands-on experience as they work with clients under the supervision of practicing faculty experts.
Students may also build hands-on experience through a judicial externships in the local courts in Camden and Newark. Students spend a semester working in a judicial office while earning course credits. This program has also led to Rutgers Law outstanding reputation for placing students in judicial clerkships after graduation.
Students also have the opportunity to learn practical skills through a variety of co-curricular activities including moot court competitions, mock trial, and pro bono work.
Both campuses at Rutgers Law offer students a vibrant and active student life. At both schools, students engage with classmates through a host of student run organizations and student run journals. Rutgers Law’s moot court teams are formidable, competing successfully in national competitions around the country. Both schools also play a vital role in their communities–connected through the clinical programs as well as their pro bono efforts. The student body is also notably diverse thanks to the law schools nearly 50 year campaign to increase diversity in its student body.
Camden and Newark offer strikingly similar homes for each campus. Camden is a suburb of Philadelphia while Newark is just outside of New York City. As suburbs of major cities, both Camden and Newark afford students lower housing costs but easy access to the benefits of two of America’s greatest cities.