Social Justice Award to be Presented

by Press Release-Rutgers-Camden | Sep 5, 2005
Social Justice Award to be Presented A prominent public interest award honoring New Jersey's first woman attorney will mark its 20th anniversary at the Rutgers University School of Law at Camden during a special ceremony at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27.

The Mary Philbrook Public Interest Award, presented annually by the Women's Law Caucus at the Rutgers-Camden law school, honors leading advocates of social justice and equality. The 2005 award will be presented to the Hon. Theodore A. McKee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

The event is co-hosted by the law school's Association for Public Interest Law (APIL) and alumni association, as well as the Camden County Bar Association.

"This expansion in sponsors is an indication of the award's growing importance in uniting the not only Rutgers-Camden faculty, students, and graduates, but the larger legal community of lawyers and judges in the region," says Ann Freedman, an associate professor at the Rutgers-Camden law school, where she founded the event.

"The award has become a launching pad to bring together a lot of people who do public interest law in South Jersey" who may not know one another because they aren't drawn together by a big city, she explains.

"The Philbrook Award is one of the most prestigious awards given by our law school," says Rayman Solomon, dean of the Rutgers University School of Law at Camden. "We annually honor people who through their commitment to public service have made important contributions to the pursuit of justice for all people in our state, in our region, and to our country."

Born in 1872, Mary Philbrook was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1895 and later became the first New Jersey woman to be admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. She was a leading advocate for civil rights, social justice and gender equality and is remembered for her instrumental role in establishing New Jersey's first legal aid society, as well as for creating the equal rights provision in the 1947 New Jersey state constitution.

From the earliest years of the Philbrook Award, Rutgers law students have been closely involved with helping plan the gala, Freedman says. The organizers added a student award component in 1999. Each year, members of the third year class and most-recent graduates are recognized for exceptional contributions to the public interest during their years in the law school with the Mary Philbrook Student Public Interest Awards.

The student awards show the legal community the extent of Rutgers-Camden law students' ever-expanding commitment to social justice. "We want the judges and lawyers to be aware of what our students are doing now, as opposed to just showing the students what they could do later in their legal careers," she says.

Amanda Lanham, a third-year Rutgers-Camden law student and member of the 2005 Philbrook committee, notes that the award communicates an important message to brand-new law students: "Public interest work and a successful career in the law are not mutually exclusive."

Freedman also will be honored at this year's gala for her role in promoting the spirit of Mary Philbrook in the law school community for the past 20 years. The co-author of several books on sex discrimination law, Freedman co-founded a major feminist law firm, the Women's Law Project of Philadelphia. She teaches courses in constitutional law, family law, women's rights and domestic violence law at Rutgers-Camden.

Proceeds from the gala benefit APIL and its summer grants to Rutgers-Camden students who work in volunteer positions at public interest legal service organizations, and the Rutgers Domestic Violence Project, which assists victims of domestic violence in obtaining restraining orders against their abusers.

Tickets are $50, which includes dinner. To register, contact Jane Rhodes at

The event will be held in the Campus Center, located on Third Street, between Cooper Street and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge on the Rutgers-Camden campus. For directions, visit

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Author: Press Release-Rutgers-Camden


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