In the Spotlight

Professor Michael Ambrosio and Janice Gordon

Gift Secures Legal Training Based on Catholic Values for Deserving Seton Hall Law Students

Over nearly five decades at Seton Hall Law, Professor Michael Ambrosio has inspired the lawyer unique to Seton Hall Law — one who integrates jurisprudence into the everyday practice of law and whose thinking is grounded in a Catholic view of justice.

“Absent wisdom and a moral foundation, lawyers can be a menace,” Ambrosio said. “So I’ve always thought that Seton Hall should produce a lawyer who’s different — more concerned about just outcomes than graduates of law schools that do not have a Catholic tradition.”

Ambrosio’s distinguished practice and teaching careers have exemplified that tradition. As a specialist in ethics and legal malpractice, he is known as the conscience of the legal profession in New Jersey and beyond. At the law school, his courses on Professional Responsibility and Law and Morality develop the intellectual basis and philosophical commitment for students to practice their profession in a manner that benefits their communities.

To ensure that students who desire the Seton Hall Law experience are able to attend, Ambrosio and his wife, Janice Gordon, have committed $2,000,000 to establish an endowed scholarship fund. Their gift will help generations of students for whom a Seton Hall JD would otherwise be out of reach.

That’s of particular importance to Ambrosio: “Seton Hall Law has been growing in importance, both in the state and as a nationally ranked law school. So I support anything we can do to show that we’re striving for excellence in every way, and scholarship aid to open the path for deserving students is a critical part of that.”

The gift is also a way of giving back since Ambrosio’s undergraduate and law school costs were defrayed by various forms of tuition support. “I went to Montclair State and my tuition was about $200 a semester, so that was a scholarship subsidy from the government. And then I had a scholarship at Catholic University Law School,” he said.

And he added that recruiting students from across the socioeconomic spectrum will improve not only Seton Hall Law but also the entire legal profession.

“Assisting needy students so they have the opportunity to attend the Law School is in keeping with Michael’s belief in ‘equitable distribution,’” Janice said. “I, too, appreciate the importance of giving students economic assistance, and I admire and fully support Michael’s commitment in this regard.”

The law school’s ethics-based training is grounded by its relationship to the University, according to Ambrosio, whose colleagues have included Monsignor Richard M. Liddy, Ph.D., director of the Center for Catholic Studies, and the late William J. Toth, Ph.D., with whom he taught a course at Immaculate Conception Seminary for several years.

“Seton Hall itself has this goal of providing education of the mind, the heart and the spirit; I’ve always loved that notion that it’s not education in any real sense unless it’s going to elevate us and make us understand that we’re spiritual beings in a material existence,” he said.

Professor Ambrosio and his wife’s recent philanthropy will ensure that Michael’s ideas about Catholicism’s relationship to law and morality continue to find expression at the law school even after his career draws to a close.

“I’ve had a career that was interesting and varied — ultimately combining academic work with practical lawyering so the two have really enhanced each other,” he said. “I embrace the notion of giving back out of gratitude; no one could have had a better position than I did as a professor of law. It’s a privilege.”