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Rutgers-Newark Law School Creates Fellowship for Graduates

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A program has been created at the Rutgers-Newark School of Law that eases graduates into the legal world. New law school graduates will be paid $30,000 to spend one year working at an on-campus law firm that serves low-and-moderate-income residents of New Jersey.

“Law schools have never developed the residency model,” said Andy Rothman, associate dean of the Rutgers School of Law-Newark, in an interview with the Star-Ledger. “New lawyers are being thrown into the world of trying to bill thousands of hours.”

Rothman guides the lawyers through special education, divorce, criminal, estate, custody, landlord-tenant and other cases. The program, known as the Rutgers Law Associates Fellowship Program, charges just $50 per hour.

Only six graduates from the law school were chosen for the program and they work in an office in the Rutgers-Newark Center for Law & Justice building.

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Heidi Bramson is a graduate who was chosen for the fellowship. Bramson said, “It’s good because we are able to throw ideas around and learn from one another’s mistakes as well as successes.”

Most of the lawyers have taken on three or four cases at once since the program began. “I still don’t know what it is I want to do exactly,” said Tabitha Clark, another member of the fellowship. “This gives me an opportunity to dibble and dabble.”

Rothman used to work as a private practice attorney. His idea for the fellowship came in the 1990s. It was approved by the school, but the proposal for it sat around for roughly one decade.

“We couldn’t get it going, and there wasn’t an appetite for it,” Rothman said.

Those working in the program agree to do so for one year. They can choose to stay with the firm for a second year and be paid $40,000. The firm is moving closer to the black as they begin to take on more paying clients.

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