The turmoil that arose from the merger talks involving Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University culminated in the announcement this summer that Rutgers-Camden would maintain its identity. Rutgers School of Law in Camden, however, was greatly affected by the uncertainty created by the merger talks. Rayman Solomon, the school’s dean, spoke with NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider about how the law school is moving forward.
The law school saw a dramatic decline in enrollment this year which Solomon attributed entirely to the protracted merger talks. Students who had a choice of other schools, he said, opted not to gamble on a school with an uncertain future.
“When discussion heated up at the end of January with the governor’s press conference and then the legislative discussions, that’s exactly when the applicants apply,” he said. “Ours just ground to a halt.”
Solomon said that he was “absolutely” happy that the law school would continue to exist under the Rutgers’ umbrella. “We had over 50 years history with Rutgers as part of the state university and it is the flagship school and we wanted to remain part of that family,” said Solomon. “We have a lot of interdisciplinary work we do with other departments and all that would have been very difficult to continue had we not been part of the university.”
While his law school faced unique circumstances this past year, Solomon was quick to note that law school admissions were down on a national level by about 15 percent which he said indicates a downward demand for legal education nationally. It’s a trend that will require the law school to do a balancing act that considers several interests.
“I think we want to figure out a size that serves the people of New Jersey and the legal profession and the state that will ensure employment for our students and keep our enrollment in line with that.”
Employment opportunities in the legal profession have not kept pace with the number of law school graduates for the past several years. The economic impact on graduates will be a factor in shaping future programs, says Solomon.
“We’re working on programs to try to help those students who haven’t found [employment] in the past but also ensure that the supply of incoming lawyers will fulfill the demand.”