The Hon. Deborah Poritz, New Jersey’s First Female Chief Justice and Attorney General, Returns to Rutgers Law–Camden as Commencement Speaker

The Hon. Deborah Poritz, New Jersey’s First Female Chief Justice and Attorney General, Returns to Rutgers Law–Camden as Commencement Speaker

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Cathy K. Donovan
856-225-6627

CAMDEN – Deborah Poritz, the retired chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, will present the keynote address during Rutgers School of Law–Camden’s commencement ceremony to be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, May 22, at the Susquehanna Bank Center on the Camden Waterfront.

Poritz made legal history in the Garden State for serving as the first female New Jersey attorney general and the first female chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. When she retired from the court in 2006 after serving for a decade, the chief justice left an impressive legacy.  Among her many accomplishments, she presided over the unification of the courts into a single statewide system and increased the diversity of the judicial workforce.

“Chief Justice Poritz led with distinction one of the most influential state supreme courts in the country,” says Rayman Solomon, dean of Rutgers Law–Camden. “She has rightfully gained wide recognition for her roles as a jurist and as steward of the state judiciary. Rutgers Law–Camden is honored to have her return as our keynote commencement speaker.”

Solomon invited Poritz to serve as commencement speaker in 1999, his first graduation ceremony as dean of the law school. In July, Solomon will step down as dean, but will continue his service in the new post of provost of Rutgers–Camden. Poritz’s return to Rutgers Law–Camden is marked by another historic moment for the school: Rutgers University–Camden and Newark law schools plan to merge into a unified Rutgers Law, which is slated to enroll its first joint class in the fall of 2015.

After retiring from the high court, Poritz joined the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath, where she continues to practice of counsel and concentrate her law practice in appellate matters. In 2010-2013, she served a three-year tenure as Visiting Jurist Emerita-in-Residence at Rutgers Law–Camden and Rutgers Law–Newark, where she taught courses on the New Jersey Supreme Court, delivered special public lectures, and participated in the student and scholarly life of both institutions.

Poritz received her bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College, studied English and American literature at Columbia University, and continued graduate studies at Brandeis University. She taught literature at Ursinus College before receiving her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

After graduating from law school, Poritz joined the office of the New Jersey attorney general as a deputy attorney general in the Division of Law, Environmental Protection Section. She later was named deputy attorney general in charge of appeals and chief of the Banking, Insurance and Public Securities Section, and then served as assistant attorney general and director of the Division of Law.

Poritz was appointed chief counsel to New Jersey Governor Thomas H. Kean. When Kean left office, she became a partner at the Princeton law firm of Jamieson, Moore, Peskin & Spicer. She remained at Jamieson until her appointment by Governor Christine T. Whitman as New Jersey's first woman attorney general. As attorney general, she successfully defended Megan's Law, in both the state and federal courts, and chaired the task force that proposed and implemented the reorganization and reformation of the juvenile justice system in New Jersey. On July 10, 1996, she took the oath of office as chief justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

A National Association of Women Judges' Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Chief Justice Poritz was also presented with the Mary Philbrook Public Interest Award by Rutgers Law–Camden, its Women’s Law Caucus, and its Association for Public Interest; and the Camden County Bar Association.  She is the recipient of the Alumna Award of Merit from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Alumna of the Year Award from Brooklyn College, and has received numerous honorary degrees.

Media Contact
Cathy K. Donovan
856-225-6627