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For more than 45 years, Rutgers School of Law–Newark has been in the forefront of two movements: first, to make legal education more democratic by making it accessible to members of groups historically excluded from legal career opportunities and, second, to make it more relevant to public life by immersing interested students in the “hands-on” representation of real clients.
Prompted by the unrest in Newark and other major U.S. cities in the summer of 1967, the law school undertook a searching examination of its roles and responsibilities as a legal institution within a declining urban community. As a consequence, the faculty voted to create the Minority Student Program (MSP), with the goal of enrolling substantial numbers of students from historically underrepresented groups in the expectation that they would enrich the educational experience and become lawyers who would help provide legal representation and leadership in their communities.
|Yvette Bravo-Weber, Assistant Dean for the MSP, meets regularly with students.|
The commitment to pursue an aggressive policy of equal opportunity, together with subsequent initiatives to recruit women and to expand the MSP to include disadvantaged applicants of all races, transformed Rutgers–Newark Law into one of the most diverse law schools in the country with respect to race, gender and class.
To better educate a transformed student body and with a new understanding of the law school’s obligations to the local community, the faculty also approved a recommendation by a commission comprised of professors, students and administrators to create an extensive clinical program. Today our Clinical Program is distinguished by the breadth and diversity of its 10 live-client clinics, comprehensiveness of experiences for students, and involvement in cases and projects with far-reaching legal or social impact.
The Minority Student Program is a post-admissions program that reflects the faculty’s continuing commitment to promoting diversity and opportunity in the classroom and the legal profession. The program provides academic support, mentoring, and internships to students who, regardless of race or ethnic origin, can demonstrate through a history of socio-economic or educational experiences that they have been disadvantaged.
Admission to the MSP is separate from and subsequent to admission to the law school. Every applicant is invited to indicate his or her interest in the program on the admission application. All matriculated students, regardless of race or ethnic origin, are eligible for consideration for the MSP.
Almost 3,000 students of color and students from disadvantaged backgrounds have participated in the MSP and graduated from the law school. MSP alums can be found on the bench, in the U.S. Congress, in private practice, government agencies, major corporations, legislative bodies, public interest organizations, and academic institutions across the country.
Now in its fifth decade, the Minority Student Program remains a vital and influential program for advancing the Rutgers commitment to excellence, opportunity and impact and for promoting diversity in law school and the legal profession.