TRENTON – The state Bar Association board of trustees has taken a stand against the state’s proposal to merge Rutgers University-Camden law school with Rowan University.
Calling Rutgers-Camden “one of the outstanding public law schools in the United States,” the bar association trustees today released a resolution in opposition to the pending change.
The association said that “it considers the proposed merger of Rutgers University School of Law-Camden into Rowan University to be harmful to the future of legal education in New Jersey, to the viability and success of the bar, particularly in the southern part of the state, and to the communities served by the law school, its students and established alumni.”
The proposal also has drawn criticism from students who do not want to lose the Rutgers name and the prestige they say it carries. The Camden County Bar Association adopted a similar resolution last month.
In addition, a coalition of students, staff, faculty and alumni of Rutgers-Camden formed a non-profit organization to right the change.
The full resolution of the state bar association is attached.
WHEREAS, it has been proposed that Rutgers University-Camden, including its law school, be merged with Rowan University; and
WHEREAS, the name of Rutgers University School of Law-Camden, one of the outstanding public law schools in the United States and a preeminent institution training lawyers for New Jersey, the Philadelphia region, the Northeast and the nation will be lost if the merger occurs; and
WHEREAS, the law school is nationally recognized for its scholarship and outstanding faculty that includes leading scholars and committed teachers who have published noted scholarly books on topics as diverse as immigration law, criminal law, global trade, intellectual property, and antitrust law with leading university presses like Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, and Yale, and won numerous awards, grants, and fellowships from esteemed academic bodies like the Fulbright Program, the American Council of Learned Societies, and Princeton University; and
WHEREAS, the retention of this acclaimed faculty is of prime importance; and
WHEREAS, Rutgers School of Law-Camden is the academic home to students from across the region, nation, and world who join the Law School from over 225 colleges and universities in 30 states, the District of Columbia, and four foreign countries; and
WHEREAS, the student body numbers more than 700, with about 175 students in each full-time entering class and the remainder in an accommodating part-time program, and boasts more than 9,000 alumni; and
WHEREAS, the law school’s students contribute to a trio of journals–the Rutgers Law Journal, the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion, and the Rutgers Journal of Law and Public Policy–and take part in innovative academic programs that support the rising trajectory of the school and students, including a Legal Research and Writing program ranked among the nation’s top 12 by U.S. News & World Report; and
WHEREAS, the school is located in a new 53,000-square foot building that complements the law school’s existing facility, offering “smart” classrooms, ample clinic space, faculty and staff offices, lounge and meeting space where faculty and students engage in learning, collaboration and scholarly interaction, and includes the state-of-the-art fully functional Archer & Greiner Moot Courtroom, which has already hosted a session of the New Jersey Supreme Court; and
WHEREAS, the Rutgers-Camden School of Law has produced graduates that are recognized in the legal community as top-notch lawyers, judges, and leaders of the organized bar and who take great pride in their alma mater; and
WHEREAS, the law school is also a fundamental asset to the underserved Camden community since its clinics and pro bono programs serve the various and important legal needs of the region’s poorest residents; and
WHEREAS, the elimination of the Camden School of Law from Rutgers University will not only affect the university’s reputation but also have negative financial implications for the university; and
WHEREAS, the placement of the law school within Rowan University will almost certainly trigger a years-long re-evaluation of the school by the American Bar Association, the accreditation body for all law schools, perhaps placing that critical accreditation in jeopardy; and
WHEREAS, the Schools of Law in Camden and Newark were exploring ways to enhance legal education in New Jersey and create a premier Rutgers School of Law, and that this important effort would be for naught if the School of Law in Camden leaves the Rutgers system,
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey State Bar Association considers the proposed merger of Rutgers University School of Law-Camden into Rowan University to be harmful to the future of legal education in New Jersey, to the viability and success of the bar, particularly in the southern part of the state, and to the communities served by the law school, its students and established alumni; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey State Bar Association hereby urges the Governor, Legislature, Rutgers Board of Governors and Board of Trustees to reject the proposed merger between Rutgers University-Camden and Rowan University.