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Rutgers Law School, Camden Location

Rutgers Law School, Camden location
217 North Fifth Street
Camden, NJ 08102

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Jill Friedman 
Associate Dean, Pro Bono and Public Interest 
217 North Fifth Street, E315 
Camden, NJ 08102 
[email protected] 

  Pam Mertsock-Wolfe 
Director, Pro Bono and Public Interest  
Rutgers Law School 
217 N. Fifth Street, E208 
Camden, NJ  08102 
[email protected] 


Category Type

Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program Characterized by a Referral System with a Coordinator


Description of Programs

Rutgers Law School is committed to providing students with meaningful pro bono opportunities that instill an ethic of service, while providing much needed legal assistance to the broader community. Through the program, our students develop skills in professional responsibility, problem-solving, and leadership, while also internalizing an ethic of service that is central to the legal profession. Moreover, through their engagement in our pro bono program, our students enhance their legal knowledge and professional networks. The goal is for all Rutgers Law School students to develop the skills and inclination to work for social justice throughout their careers, whether in a public interest setting or through pro bono work.

Our home community of Camden, NJ is a perfect environment in which to learn and serve. By performing direct service and policy work, Rutgers Law School students develop an appreciation for structural inequities and help real people. Students perform pro bono work in a variety of settings. Most of our projects are in-house partnerships with legal services providers, focused on bankruptcy; community legal education; life planning (medical directives, etc.); income tax assistance; re-entry for returning citizens; research for government and public interest entities; and many other areas. In addition, students often gain approval to work with partner entities such as the ACLU, various innocence organizations, etc. Students also often organize winter and spring break service projects in New Jersey and throughout the United States.


Location of Programs

Pro Bono and Public Interest Program 



The Law School's Associate Dean and Director for Pro Bono and Public Interest oversee existing pro bono initiatives, support public interest programs, and develop resources and new opportunities for Rutgers Law students. Program professionals also support the Law School’s public interest student group APIL (Association for Public Interest Law) with its public interest programming and its annual fundraising efforts, including an auction, that provide funding for summer public interest stipends.



Law School; American College of Bankruptcy Foundation; New Jersey Bankruptcy Lawyers Foundation


Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Association for Public Interest Law (APIL)


Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

Faculty members provide supervision to and participate in several pro bono projects.



Full-time/part-time students who accumulate hours from eligible pro bono efforts receive graduation pro bono awards.

Pro Bono Publico Award: recognizes 50 (full-time)/35 (part-time) or more hours of pro bono service

Dean's Pro Bono Publico Award for Exceptional Service: recognizes 100/70 or more hours of pro bono service Dean’s Pro Bono Publico Award for Exceptional Service with Distinction: recognizes 200/140 or more hours of pro bono service


Community Service

At the start of the fall semester, the Community Service Orientation Project brings together incoming 1Ls, APIL members, faculty, and staff to serve Camden. In most recent years, the orientation project has been to clean and paint the Nilsa I. Cruz-Perez Downtown Branch of the Camden County Library System. This library branch serves as a community center for Camden residents.

Also at the start of the fall semester, Social Justice Scholars and other interested student volunteers often serve meals to guests of Cathedral Kitchen, a culinary institute and a local provider of meals to low-income and homeless Camden residents.

Several student groups sponsor mentoring programs, backpack drives, Safe Halloween and other programs for Camden youth.


Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Jill Friedman (pro bono)
Associate Dean, Pro Bono and Public Interest 
217 North Fifth Street, E315 
Camden, NJ 08102 
[email protected] 

  Joanne Gottesman (clinics)
Clinical Professor of Law and Chair for Clinical Programs
Rutgers Law School
217 N 5th St, E223
Camden, NJ 08102
[email protected]
Sandra Simkins (practice externships)
Distinguished Clinical Professor of Law
Rutgers Law School
217 N 5th St, E219
Camden, NJ 08102
[email protected]


Certificate/Curriculum Programs


Public Interest Centers


Public Interest Clinics

Through the clinics, law students learn essential lawyering skills while assuming and growing into the role of lawyer. Their responsibilities include handling all aspects of their clients’ cases such as trials and evidentiary hearings, significant appellate arguments and briefs, business transactions, legislative and administrative testimony and comments, and complex mediations, negotiations, and counseling sessions. Rutgers Law clinics promote professional judgment, collaboration, and a sense of professional identity and responsibility among students who participate. Clinic students practicing in a wide range of subject areas also learn the positive difference that well-trained members of the legal profession can make in their clients’ lives.



Practice externships and Judicial externships are open to students who have completed the first-year curriculum and would like to gain practical experience by working at government agency, non-profit organization or with a judge on the state or federal level. Rutgers Law School students may apply for judicial externships with municipal and state court judges in the civil, criminal, and family divisions; with federal judges in the district court, court of appeals, and bankruptcy courts; and judges who sit in administrative courts, including the EEOC and the Department of Labor.  Students can also apply for a wide variety of practice externships or create their own. 


Classes with a Public Service Component

Advanced Mediation - Prof. Petrilla encourages participation in the mediation program.

Public Interest Law - Requires a community service component, to be approved by the professor.


Public Interest Journals

The Rutgers International Law and Human Rights Journal

Rutgers Journal of Law and Public Policy

Rutgers Race and the Law Review

Movement Lawyering Journal


PI Career Support Center

The Pro Bono and Public Interest professionals provide public interest career counseling and post-graduate fellowship advice and support to students and alumni, as do members of the Center for Career Development.

Rutgers also encourages and supports students' attendance at the PILC Fair, the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair, and other public interest job fairs. With the other area law schools, the Law School sponsors a Public Interest Public Service (PIPS) Job Fair each year in Philadelphia.


Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

The Loan Repayment Assistance Program provides financial assistance to help defray law school debt obligations for law school graduates choosing public interest and public service careers.


Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

The Maida Public Interest Fellowships Program is made possible through the generosity of James and Dr. Sharon Maida.  Established in 2015 to acknowledge, support and sustain public interest legal work by students and graduates of Rutgers Law School, the Maida Public Interest Fellows Program includes the  Maida Post-Graduate Public Interest Fellowship .


Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:


Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

Rutgers Law School is committed to promoting public interest law through a variety of programs and opportunities for our students.  Each year, Rutgers Law recognizes a small cohort of incoming students at the Camden location as Social Justice Scholars.  These students demonstrate an exceptional commitment to public service and are most likely to dedicate their legal careers to working on social justice causes and on behalf of underserved communities. Only a limited number of students receive this distinction, which carries the following benefits and responsibilities.

The Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Fellowship Program enlists law students in an effort to increase civic literacy and participation in American democracy.  Talented second- and third-year law students on the Camden campus prepare and teach a course in constitutional law to high school students.  The aim is to make the Constitution “come alive” for young people while simultaneously improving law students’ ability to translate and explain complicated legal concepts into lay terms. Fellows are chosen through a competitive process during the spring semester of each year. Applicants are chosen based on their academic preparation, motivation, maturity, commitment to the power of education and the urgency of greater access to it, and intellectual curiosity about constitutional issues.


Graduate Student Funded


Other Funding Sources:


Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

The Maida Public Interest Fellows Program is made possible through the generosity of James and Dr. Sharon Maida.  Established in 2015 to acknowledge, support and sustain public interest legal work by students and graduates of Rutgers Law School, the Maida Public Interest Fellowships Program supports  Maida Summer Fellowships. In addition, Rutgers students are eligible for numerous other summer stipends. 


Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:


Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Through the Philadelphia Bar Association's Public Interest Outreach Committee, the law school co-sponsors a series of Summer Brown Bag lunches for law students working in the greater Philadelphia area.

Various panels and programs are sponsored by student groups such as Association for Public Interest Law and the American Constitution Society, including programs on eminent domain, etc.

Others include panels on same sex marraige, immigration reform, etc.


Student Public Interest Groups

The Association for Public Interest Law, founded in 1991, provides a community for students interested in social justice. APIL organizes public interest topic and career panels, participates in pro bono and community service efforts, and raises funds, primarily through an annual auction, for students who accept unpaid summer public interest jobs.

National Lawyers Guild