Matthew Sykes, a 2011 graduate of Rutgers School of Law-Camden, is one of only 28 young lawyers nationwide to receive a 2012 Skadden Public Interest Fellowship.

The fellowship program, described as “a legal Peace Corps,” is for recent graduates who plan to devote their professional lives to working with those who are otherwise unable to obtain the legal services they need. Each fellow creates a program at a public interest organization with lawyers on staff and is funded for two years to implement that program.

Sykes’ program, with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, is targeted toward students exiting the juvenile justice system and reentering school. It will concentrate on young people in Camden and in Sykes’ hometown, Atlantic City.

“I’ve started to lean toward education law because — unlike other specific areas of practice, such as employment or civil rights — I believe that education is the key to fighting injustice anywhere, in any situation,” Sykes explains.

 

Sykes, who received his undergraduate degree from Rowan University in 2008, overcame many obstacles on his way to law school. “I grew up with a lack of positive role models, ineffective school systems and a neighborhood where drugs were sold and used. I graduated from high school with a C average.” he says. “I want to send the message that if I can do it, anyone can.”

Other local recipients

Two Penn law school grads have also received Skadden fellowships.



Marsha Chien will work at the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center in San Francisco on a project helping limited-English proficient workers who have been barred from equal-employment opportunities.



Jesse Krohn will work at Philadelphia Legal Assistance. She will work with teen parents on matters of child support and custody, protection from abuse and access to public benefits.

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