Succeeding While Serving Others

Jonathan Sgro

Jonathan Sgro ’13 is one of a select group of graduating law students and judicial clerks chosen as 2015 Skadden Fellows. The Skadden Fellowship is one of the most competitive and prestigious legal fellowships in the nation.

Established in 1988 by the firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, the two-year fellowships support young lawyers as they begin their careers delivering legal services to underserved populations. Described by the Los Angeles Times as a “legal Peace Corps,” the Skadden Fellowship Program provides significant financial assistance to awardees as they pursue projects at their chosen public interest organizations. Each year, Skadden chooses approximately 25 fellows from a pool of 500 applicants.

Sgro—a past Villanova Public Interest Scholar who currently serves as a law clerk to the Honorable Jerome B. Simandle, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey—will work at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (CLS), a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to low-income residents. His fellowship project is designed to assist with property tax relief for individuals and families facing foreclosure and other municipal collection actions.

"I am truly honored to be Villanova Law's first Skadden Fellow. I am excited to represent low-income and elderly Philadelphians facing municipal property tax foreclosures. I can think of no better sponsor than the Skadden Foundation and no better organization than Community Legal Services to assist in this worthy work,” said Sgro. “Villanova Law afforded me many opportunities to gain practical experience in public interest lawyering and I am grateful for the school's supportive public interest community. Certainly, through coursework, externships, and clinical programs, Villanova provided me the necessary tools to be a successful advocate on behalf of vulnerable Philadelphians."

Sgro has an extensive resume in public service. As an undergraduate student at Boston College, he worked the night shift at CASPAR Emergency Service Center, one of three shelters in Massachusetts that accepts homeless people who are actively battling alcohol and drug addiction. After earning his Bachelor’s degree, Sgro spent three years as a case manager at Horizon House Homeless Services in Philadelphia.

During his time at Villanova Law, Sgro was actively engaged in public interest opportunities—participating in the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic, serving as Co-Director of the Walter Lucas Public Interest Fellowship Program, volunteering at the Pennsylvania Innocence Project and holding externships at the Homeless Advocacy Project, the Defender Association of Philadelphia and CLS. Sgro was a 2011 Equal Justice America Summer Fellowship recipient and the winner of the 2013 Arthur J. Kania Prize in Professional Ethics, awarded by the Villanova Law faculty to the student who best demonstrates a commitment to professional ethics and integrity.  Sgro graduated at the top of his class and served as a managing editor of the Villanova Law Review.

“I was privileged to supervise Jonathan in the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic at Villanova, where he excelled,” commented Beth Lyon, Professor of Law and Director of the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic. “It is wonderful for a team to take on more than one demanding case in a semester, but Jonathan and his partner took on three, spanning four practice areas and three counties. All of his clients prevailed in their matters. Jonathan is that rare combination: a fierce advocate for justice who is also a cheerful and humorous co-worker. Philadelphia’s low income residents are lucky to have him on their side.”

Law students looking to follow in Sgro’s footsteps can take advantage of Villanova’s robust public interest curriculum, experiential learning opportunities, tailored career counseling and pro bono programs. Click here to learn more about Public Interest Practice at Villanova Law.