New Jersey is an exciting market for the practice of law. Companies that might have been headquartered in New York City a generation ago are increasingly deciding to set up shop on the other side of the Hudson. New Jersey has also been a popular place to study the law with the intention of sitting for the New York bar exam, taking advantage of lower educational costs and proximity to New York's vast legal and business markets.
Whether you intend to practice in the Garden State or plan to work elsewhere in the region, New Jersey has a handful of excellent law schools to choose from — and one otherwise excellent university that has found itself to be the butt of a lot of legal jokes.
Rutgers Law School — Camden and Newark
Rutgers University is a public school with three regional campuses distributed throughout the state. Two of these campuses host law schools, which were independently administrated until their ABA-approved merger in 2015. Prospective students file a single application for admittance to Rutgers Law School. Upon admission, the student then indicates whether they prefer to study at the Camden or Newark campus.
- Camden Campus -- Located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, the Camden campus is well known for producing many students who are offered clerkships after graduation. The school also offers a part-time day program that gives nontraditional students greater flexibility than elsewhere.
- Newark Campus -- Located across the Hudson River from Manhattan, Rutgers Newark is arguably the most reputable law school in New Jersey. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg taught law at Rutgers for many years and founded the school's "Women's Rights Law Reporter." The school is also well-known for its clinical program, the first of its kind in New Jersey and among the first in the nation.
Whichever campus you attend, Rutgers Law School provides a highly-regarded legal education at a reasonable cost. In-state tuition for full-time students is around $27,000 a year, while students from out-of-state can expect to pay about $41,000.
Seton Hall University School of Law
Seton Hall Law, located in downtown Newark, is New Jersey's only private law school. Much of the school is housed at One Newark Center, just blocks from Penn Station Newark, New Jersey Transit, and PATH trains to Manhattan.
Seton Hall's graduates have enjoyed very high bar exam passage and post-graduation employment rates. As a private institution, Seton Hall's tuition tends to be much higher than Rutgers, about $60,000 a year. However, a very high percentage of students receive scholarships covering a significant portion of the tuition, which may alter one's cost-benefit analysis.
What About Princeton?
Knowing that New Jersey is home to an Ivy League school might lead one to ask why not study law there, but Princeton is one of the few Ivy League schools to lack a law program. Many assume that Princeton has a law school, resulting in a lot of jokes and confusion. Famously, Lionel Hutz, the sleazy attorney from "The Simpsons," is said to have attended Princeton Law School.
It's not that they haven't wanted one; Princeton has made several attempts at establishing a law program, but it seems unlikely that the school will manage to get one running any time soon.
Making Informed Choices
As you proceed through law school and on into practice, there are bound to be lots of questions. Having sorted out which New Jersey law school is right for you is just the first of many steps. Explore FindLaw's Law Students for more articles about exams, the bar, repaying student loans, and more to help ensure that you make informed choices.