Sam Williamson ’18 awarded Skadden Fellowship to aid homeless LGBTQ youth in Baltimore

Recent Maryland Carey Law graduate Sam Williamson ’18 has been awarded the highly competitive Skadden Fellowship to pursue public interest law. The two-year fellowship is among the most prestigious awards for public interest law students and early-career lawyers.

“We are so proud of Sam for this great achievement,” said Dean Donald B. Tobin. “One of our goals here at the law school is to inspire students to use their law degrees to make the world a better place. Sam’s work with LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness in Baltimore exemplifies the positive impact our students and graduates can have on the most vulnerable in our society.”

Williamson will launch the first civil legal aid program in Baltimore City and Baltimore County specifically designed to eliminate barriers in housing, employment, safety, and stability for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. Williamson will provide LGBTQ-focused outreach and representation in shelter grievances, discrimination cases, public benefits appeals, criminal record expungements, and petitions to change legal names and gender markers.

“By having someone dedicated to serving LGBTQ youth in a strategic way,” says Williamson, “we will increase their access to resources, health, and stable housing, as well as amplify their voices to local and state legislators.”

Williamson graduated as valedictorian of the Maryland Carey Law class of 2018, receiving the Sam Allen Memorial Prize for leadership and scholarship. Williamson credits the experience working with Professor Leigh Goodmark in the Gender Violence Clinic with providing a strong foundation to learn how to effectively represent clients. “In my clinic, we focused on how to center the clients’ needs,” said Williamson, “tell their stories in a way that honors their experiences, and advocate effectively both inside and out of court.” 

Goodmark, who directs the Gender Violence Clinic, recommended Williamson for the fellowship and was, herself, a Skadden Fellow in 1995.

While at Maryland Carey Law, Williamson was manuscripts editor for the Maryland Law Review and a teaching fellow in the Writing Center. During law school, they were a legal intern at ACLU of Maryland, Office of the Maryland Public Defender, and the Public Justice Center; and a summer law fellow at FreeState Justice, Inc. Last year, Williamson clerked for the Hon. Paula Xinis, United States District Court, District of Maryland, and currently clerks for the Hon. Diana Gribbon Motz, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The Skadden Fellowship Foundation has awarded fellowships since 1988 enabling fellows to design and execute groundbreaking public interest law projects. The 2020 class includes 28 fellows, six from Yale, four from Harvard, four from NYU, three from UCLA, two from Northeastern, and one each from Maryland Carey Law, Stanford, Penn Law, Georgetown, William and Mary, University of Michigan, Rutgers, Boston College, and University of Tulsa.

Sam Williamson is the sixth Maryland Carey Law student to win a Skadden Fellowship. Previous winners are Linda Morris '17, Dorcas Gilmore '07, Ingrid Lofgren '12, Luciene Parsley '02, and Susan Waysdorf '91.

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