Meet Arrianna Diamantis ’19: Center for Social Justice Scholar
Commitment to social change. Focus on providing legal services to those in need. Perseverance in the face of great odds. These are the characteristics that define a Center for Social Justice (CSJ) Scholar. Each year, the Seton Hall Law School Center for Social Justice selects one or more students from those who have completed their first year of law school to serve as CSJ Scholars. The Scholars, who will serve until graduation, are offered a range of public interest opportunities and benefits, including the chance to work on projects at the CSJ during their second year of law school and a full-year of clinical courses in the final year of law school. This year, the Association of Corporate Counsel of New Jersey generously provided a scholarship of $1,000 for each Scholar to support their public interest work during law school.
Arrianna Diamantis ’19 has long been interested in the criminal justice system. She grew up with one immigrant parent in a family that struggled with finances. This exposed Diamantis to challenges that built in her a deep commitment to helping the indigent, incarcerated youth, and those struggling to get by, and this ultimately led her to pursue a career in law. According to Diamantis: "Growing up, and even until recently, I have closely watched or been affected by family and friends facing issues with the law - whether it was through financial problems, housing, or the criminal justice system. This ignited a desire in me at a young age to give to those people the help they were not receiving and to work to improve the system overall."
Diamantis graduated from Rutgers University in 2016 with a triple major in Psychology, Philosophy, and Criminal Justice. During college, she interned with the New Jersey State Police and the Attorney General's office. While at Rutgers, Diamantis became heavily involved in social justice issues such as juvenile incarceration, the foster care system, LGBTQ+ rights, and child advocacy issues. She combined hands-on work, such as tutoring incarcerated youth, with broader reform advocacy to work for social change. Working those who need help most and making changes to better our criminal justice system are of deep importance to her.
As a first year at Seton Hall Law, Diamantis immediately began to work with the Volunteer Lawyers for Justice in the expungement clinic. Through this project, she helped Newark residents reclaim their lives with a clean criminal record. Diamantis also was selected for the moot court team and as a leadership fellow for 2017-18. She currently serves as Vice President of the Public Interest Network.
During the summer after her first year of law school, Diamantis worked in the Criminal Trial division at the Essex County Office of the Public Defender. In the fall of 2018, she worked in the Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review to learn more about the immigration system, particularly given the crucial intersection of immigration and criminal law. As a Leadership Fellow this year, she is helping to organize a project to educate Newark’s youth on gender issues and implementing a program to help young girls keep their self-confidence as they grow. In the spring, she is assisting the Reentry Legal Assistance Project with organizing a conference on best practices as relates to legal work for individuals reentering society after a period of incarceration. "Having friends in the foster care system who were treated poorly when we were growing up shaped me to start working with kids in those systems, but I never had any guidance on how to create a greater change. At Seton Hall Law, I have found so many ways to cultivate that change."