New Jersey should be proud of the accomplishments of the law school of Rutgers, our state university. Many citizens know of the minority student program which the law school created in 1968 following the Newark riots which sought to increase diversity in our profession. Over 2,500 lawyers of diversity are now admitted to the bar who may not have otherwise had an opportunity to enroll in law school but for the diversity program at Rutgers law school. It has provided, in the words of Co-Dean Ronald Chen, a member of our board, “a vision of the law as an instrument of positive social change by which to measure how” to use “legal skills for the public good.”
As Rutgers Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor said at the recent daylong celebration and reflection, the law school has done that—especially through its clinical programs worked to reverse “the long arm of history and empower communities toward prosperity, fairness, and equity—whether in fighting for disability rights, protecting immigrant families, equitably integrating our schools and neighborhoods, supporting prisoner re-entry and juvenile justice reform, securing affordable housing, and uncovering the implicit biases that under gird all the discrimination at the center of so much that holds us back.”
Also of great public importance, Rutgers Law School has been designated as No. 3 on the recently compiled list of the 20 most-affordable law schools in the nation—institutions which enable students who might otherwise be unable to attend and to pay for law school to do so. Even without loan assistance or scholarships, students attending these schools can obtain a legal education and obtain admission to the bar without carrying severe and significant debt which might otherwise preclude or reduce certain career path opportunities within the practice and profession.
The organization Student Loan Hero studied the cost for a legal education at 116 law schools and ranked Rutgers third on the “20 most affordable” list. According to the report, “in-state students pay $27,269 a year,” have an average student debt of $56,173 at graduation and “have the lowest student loan balance of all 20 schools on the list.”
We have to be proud that Rutgers Law School is our state law school, is promoting and in the forefront of an affordable legal education for a diverse population (without sacrificing the quality of faculty) which will help promote diversity within the profession and the ability of attorneys to practice in areas of their choice and desire.