The Eric R. Neisser Public Interest Program is the umbrella organization for all public interest-related activities at the law school. The program was created to honor the life and work of the late Eric R. Neisser, the one-time acting dean, long-time law professor, and committed social activist who was a beacon of public interest activities at Rutgers-Newark law school for 20 years, and to carry on his commitment to civil liberties, equal rights, and social justice.
The Neisser Program serves to promote a culture of public service within the law school community, increase and enhance opportunities for students to learn about and experience public interest work, and support and assist students interested in developing careers in public service. First, the program gives students the opportunity to gain experience in the field of public interest and public service through pro bono activities, internships, fellowships, summer placements, full-time employment after graduation, and loan repayment assistance. Further, it provides programming about the public interest and support to a variety of student organizations, which enables students to become educated about public interest issues, to interact with local communities, and to seek redress for individuals and communities on a variety of issues. Finally, it enables students, through a multitude of clinical programs, to experience a public interest/service practice in areas as diverse as taxation, community development, legal services, criminal defense, child advocacy, special education, constitutional litigation, environmental advocacy, and women`s rights.
Noncurricular public interest activities include:
pro bono activities, such as the Pro Bono Program, the Domestic Violence Advocacy Project, and the Street Law Project;
fellowship opportunities, including the Kinoy-Stavis Fellowship and the Marsha Wenk Public Interest Fellowship;
paid public interest/service-oriented summer internship opportunities through the Public Interest Law Foundation;
after law school loan repayment assistance for those who take underfunded public interest legal jobs through the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP); and
educational activities such as the First Monday Symposium, the Eric R. Neisser Public Interest Program Annual Symposium, a speaker series providing conversations with public interest lawyers, and participation in conferences and job fairs.
In addition, the law school is actively involved in promoting the development of the rule of law abroad by helping to implement and improve clinical legal education. The American Bar Association Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative has linked the law school with the law faculty at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia, to assist in this process. As part of the linkage, the ABA CEELI provides for faculty and student exchanges between the two schools.
Similarly, the U.S. State Department awarded a NISCUPP (Newly Independent State College and University Partnership Program) grant to the law school for an exchange partnership with three law faculties in Samara, Russia.
Finally, students at Rutgers can participate in a variety of legal clinics for credit, which give them the opportunity to work on real cases under the supervision of clinical law professors. These cases expose students to the legal issues facing the poor and underrepresented, and give them the opportunity to develop legal skills, such as interviewing, counseling, negotiation, legal writing, and trial skills.