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John J. Farmer Jr., University Senior Vice President and General Counsel, to Deliver Law School Convocation Address

May 16, 2014 – 

John J. Farmer Jr., who is on a leave of absence as Dean of Rutgers School of Law–Newark to serve as senior vice president and general counsel of Rutgers University, will deliver the convocation address at the law school’s Wednesday, May 21, 2014 commencement. Acting Dean Ronald K. Chen ’83 will preside at the ceremony during which the Juris Doctor degree will be conferred on 232 graduates.

Commencement will begin at 2 pm at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) following a bagpiper-led procession of faculty, university dignitaries, senior campus and law school administrators, and graduating students from the S.I. Newhouse Center for Law and Justice. 

Dean Farmer’s legal career has spanned service in high-profile government appointments, private practice in diverse areas of criminal law, and teaching and law school administration. He began his career as a law clerk to New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Alan B. Handler. He worked at Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti LLP before moving to the Office of the U.S. Attorney in Newark, where he received the U.S. Attorney General’s Special Achievement Award for Sustained Performance. In 1994 Farmer joined New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman’s administration, serving as assistant counsel, deputy chief counsel, and then chief counsel. From 1999-2002 he was New Jersey attorney general. 

From 2003-2004, as senior counsel and team leader for the 9/11 Commission, Farmer led the country’s investigation of the country’s preparedness for and response to the terrorist attacks and was a principal author of the Commission’s final report. His book, The Ground Truth: The Story Behind America’s Defense on 9/11, was named a New York Times notable book.

Dean Farmer was a partner at K&L Gates and, in 2007, became a founding partner of the law firm Arseneault, Whipple, Farmer, Fassett and Azzarello, LLP. He became Dean of the law school in July 2009. In 2011, he served as counsel to the commission that redrew New Jersey’s legislative districts and, later that year, was appointed the independent, tie-breaking member of the commission charged with developing a new map of New Jersey’s congressional districts. In 2012, he received the Justice William J. Brennan Jr. Award from the Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey and the Distinguished Public Service Award from Leadership New Jersey.

Dean Farmer is president of the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and a member of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct. He received his B.A. from Georgetown University and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Other speakers at the ceremony will include Clinical Professor John R. Kettle III, director of the Intellectual Property Law Clinic, as the faculty speaker and the Class of 2014’s Leonard Jones as the student speaker.