Shortly after graduating from Harvard Law in 1950, Judge John J. Gibbons joined the Newark law firm that would grow to become Gibbons P.C., one of the nation’s top 200 law firms. Two years later, he also began teaching at Seton Hall Law at the invitation of its first dean, Miriam T. Rooney. Over the next 45 years, he would teach whenever he could; a total of 24 years including seven years as the Richard J. Hughes Chair in Constitutional Law.
“I enjoyed teaching. At one point, I was teaching full-time and working full-time until June of ’97 when my wife said, ‘It’s one or the other,’” recalls Judge Gibbons.
As his career developed, so too did his support of Seton Hall Law. Over the years, the former Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit (where he served from 1970-1990), has been a consistent contributor to the law school. The Gibbons firm, likewise, has been a strong supporter, with its most recent contribution totaling $1 million to establish the Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology at Seton Hall Law.
Judge Gibbon’s most recent personal gift of $50,000 was presented in support of the Seton Hall Law Rising capital campaign. In appreciation of his ongoing generosity to the law school, Seton Hall Law will name its small moot court in his honor. The Gibbons firm will loan a painting of Judge Gibbons arguing in the Supreme Court to the law school to hang in the room.
“I was always interested in legal education, and Seton Hall Law School is a very important New Jersey institution,” he says. “Its principle strength is its very strong faculty, and its second strength is that it has been able to attract very good students.”
A number of those students also have gone on to work for the Gibbons firm. Out of 240 lawyers at the firm, Judge Gibbons is proud to note, “about 50 are Seton Hall Law alumni.”
Following his term on the bench, Judge Gibbons founded the John J. Gibbons Fellowship in Public Interest and Constitutional Law, a highly competitive and sought-after appointment in the world of public interest law. At Gibbons, he heads the firm’s Alternative Dispute Resolution and Appellate practices. He is a past-president of the new Jersey State Bar Association, a Life Member of the American Law Institute, and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He is a former member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association, former chair of its Committee on Fair Trial and Free Press, and has conducted several missions outside the United States for the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.
It was his education that in large part helped him to accomplish all he has, notes Judge Gibbons. “Helping to establish the success of future generations,” he adds, “is why people give back to education.”