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Clinical Program and Street Law Program Honored for Their Community Engagement

November 20, 2009 – 
For 40 years, the Clinical Program at Rutgers School of Law–Newark has provided practical lawyering experience for students and high-quality representation for underserved individuals and communities. Street Law, established by Rutgers law students in the spring of 2006, partners with community organizations and local schools to teach practical law to area youth and empower them to use the law and become more active citizens. The two programs will be among the honorees on December 8 when Rutgers–Newark recognizes the recipients of the 2009 Chancellor’s Community Engagement Awards.

Clinic Community Engagement Award   
Professor Jon Dubin with the Community Engagement Award presented to the Clinical Program. Shown with him are (l-r): Rutgers–Newark Chancellor Steven Diner, Professor Frank Askin, Associate Clinical Professor Charles Auffant, Nana Wilson of the Child Advocacy Clinic, and Clinical Professors Randi Mandelbaum, Esther Canty-Barnes, and Jennifer Rosen Valverde.   
The Clinical Program, which is headed by Professor Jon Dubin, is being recognized for what Dean John Farmer describes as its “scope, influence, longevity and success in performing valuable community service and access to justice to Newark and New Jersey communities and residents.” The seven clinics combine hands-on education for law students who work with real clients, while providing free legal services to the community.

Over the years, the clinics have helped to establish numerous important legal precedents on the national, regional and local levels. The program, a winner in the academic program/unit award category, also has helped make the law school an important partner in empowering, protecting and preserving the surrounding community. Some of these accomplishments are described in the new book You Can Tell It to the Judge . . . And Other True Tales of Law School Lawyering

Commenting on the award, Professor Dubin said: “I am delighted to be at a University that values community service as a core aspect of its public mission and particularly thrilled that the Chancellor has chosen to honor the law school’s clinical program at a time when the program faces perhaps its greatest financial challenges to continued operations in its 40-year history.”  

Street Law, under the direction of New Jersey Bar Fellow Alycia Guichard, trains and then sends law student volunteers to schools in Newark and nearby communities to teach middle- and high-school students about the impact of law and government on their daily lives. “Through these lessons, the youth also develop problem-solving skills necessary for dealing with these legal issues, as well as the basic workings of government and their own rights and responsibilities as citizens and community members,” explained Toni G. Kelich, third-year law student and program assistant, in nominating the program for the Student Community Service Award. Bronwyn Proffit-Higgins, one of the student teachers, noted, “Teaching Street Law allowed me to encourage my students to make a difference in their community by reporting instances of police misconduct, writing local legislators, researching community issues, and seeking legal help when necessary.”

“I am proud and honored that the Chancellor has chosen to recognize our dedicated Street Law instructors,” said Guichard. “Each week, these students make a commitment to learn the laws that affect inner-city youth and then teach these young people about the law, critical thinking and advocacy skills in ways that have a positive impact on their daily lives.”