New Jersey is an exciting market for the practice of law. Companies that might have 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 big market. 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 that has 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. Since the merger, 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 a large number of clerkships post-graduation. The school also offers an unusual part-time day program that provides nontraditional students with greater flexibility than elsewhere.
- Newark Campus -- Located across the Hudson River from Manhattan, the Newark campus was, prior to its merger with the Camden campus, 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.
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 higher than that of Rutgers, but a very high percentage of students receive scholarships covering a significant portion of the tuition, which may alter one's cost-benefit analysis.
Jokes 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. Not that they haven't wanted one; Princeton has made several abortive attempts at establishing a law program, but it seems unlikely that the school will manage to get one running in our lifetime.
Many assume that Princeton has a law school, resulting in jokes, mistakes, and confusion. Famously, Lionel Hutz, the sleazy attorney from "The Simpsons," is said to have attended Princeton Law School, and long before the development of any space laws it used to be joked by lawyers that Princeton's space law program was the top in the nation.
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. Return to FindLaw's Law Students section frequently for more articles about exams, the bar, repaying student loans, and more to help ensure that you make informed choices.