What is it like to work and live in Newark, NJ?
Law students take advantage of great restaurants, easy commutes to school and a great basketball team
Sierra Kresin ’17 grew up in Topeka, Kansas, attending Washburn University and aspiring to practice law in a large city. She submitted law school applications in Kansas and to schools on both coasts. But when she walked into Seton Hall Law, she knew she had found her destination. “I just felt at home,” she recalled. “Everyone was so nice.”
Sergio Suarez ’16 grew up in Newark’s North Ward and currently resides in the Historic Forest Hill section of the city. He attended Seton Hall University and, in his sophomore year, found his passion for law. “Once I got interested in law school and I realized that Seton Hall Law was just down the street from where I grew up, it was pretty much a match made in heaven,” he said. “There was no debate about where I was going to go to law school. It was just a matter of whether I was going to get in.”
Kresin and Suarez consider Seton Hall Law their home away from home, and they enjoy working and living in Newark. “Newark is clearly up and coming, with so many new stores, restaurants and bars opening, especially around the new Prudential building, which is just a few blocks away,” said Kresin.
Sierra Kresin ’17
Newark offers a variety of lifestyle choices, reflected in the different neighborhoods where Kresin and Suarez choose to call home. Both students found roommates through Seton Hall Law’s Roommate Search utility, available to new admitted students and current students seeking to share apartments or houses in the surrounding region.
Kresin and a classmate share a two-bedroom apartment in the grand Art Deco high-rise known by its address: “Eleven80,” located in the heart of the Downtown area one block from the Law School. Eleven80 is a popular choice for Seton Hall Law students who live in Newark. “Obviously, the commute is great – it’s just a three-minute walk to class,” Kresin said. She also appreciates the building’s amenities, which include a bowling alley in the basement and a free shuttle that takes residents to the new ShopRite. “Eleven80 also has a gym,” she said, “which is convenient – when I have time to get there!”
This is the first time, since she was 15, that Kresin has not had a car. “Back home, it’s a car culture – we start driving in ninth grade and you have to own a car because everything is so spread out,” she said. “Here, I live five minutes from the train station so it would be an easy commute if I find a job in the surrounding area. And if I decide to do a clerkship with a judge, the courthouses are a 10-minute walk from my apartment.”
Also within walking distance is Kresin’s favorite hangout, McGovern’s, where students congregate for Tuesday Trivia Night. On a recent walk to the tavern, Kresin pointed out the construction site that will soon be a Whole Foods Market, the Newark Museum – New Jersey’s largest collection of art – and her classmate’s townhouse apartment, where a viewing of “The Bachelor” is a weekly ritual. Kresin also enjoys Bello’s, a favorite restaurant, for a game of pool and “the best penne vodka I’ve ever had.”
Over weekends, Kresin and her classmates might head to Hoboken or Jersey City, which offer an active night life for students and young professionals alike. And, “we make a point of going to New York City especially for birthdays,” she said.
Sergio Suarez shares a spacious apartment with four roommates in the Forest Hill section, two miles outside the Downtown area, near his family and the home where he grew up. Forest Hill crowns Newark’s North Ward, bustling with Dominican and Cuban restaurants and pubs two blocks from Branch Brook Park, which is famous for its cherry blossom trees. The streets are wide, with the spires of the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart visible above the roof lines.
Though bus lines runs directly Downtown, Suarez typically drives to the Law School. “I was in ROTC during undergrad and now I serve in the Army National Guard,” he said. “With my service and my work in the Center for Social Justice clinic, I can be in two or three different places in a single day. It’s just easier to have a car.”
Suarez also spends time in the Ironbound, a section of Newark two blocks from the Law School that is home to traditional and contemporary Portuguese and Spanish restaurants, as well as chic new shops. “It’s a really interesting combination of bakeries and bodegas, and modern stores that look like they belong in Soho,” he said. Seton Hall Law students also find apartments in the Ironbound and appreciate the short walk to the Law School.
While Kresin and Suarez may live in different parts of the city, they converge with their classmates at the Seton Hall men’s basketball games played at the Prudential Center, a five-minute walk from the Law School. “Seton Hall offers a few dozen tickets to law students for every Pirates home game. I can’t remember the last time I missed one,” Suarez said. Kresin concurs: “It’s been a fantastic season for the Pirates. I grew up near the University of Kansas, a big NCAA school, so it’s nice to have another great basketball team nearby.”
Both Kresin and Suarez believe living in Newark will serve them well in legal practice. “My goal is to work for a firm in New York or New Jersey,” Kresin said, “and with the city so close by, it’s easy to network or head in for interviews.”
For Suarez, legal practice will enable him to give back to the city where he grew up. “I knew that if I were to stay in Newark I could probably make a big difference here,” he said. “I have already seen a great deal of change in Newark since I grew up. Crime is down, and while the Downtown area was always safe, my neighborhood is safer than ever, too. But we still need to make progress.
“My mother was a community organizer and activist, and from her, I've learned the power of ideas and the power of working to make those ideas happen,” he said. “I know how Newark functions. I know what works, what doesn't work. I’ll use that knowledge, coupled with a legal education, to create change in this city.”