For New Jersey’s veterans, nagging legal issues such as old criminal convictions or suspended driver’s licenses can derail their lives and make it nearly impossible for them to secure housing and employment. The Veteran’s Legal Program was started with generous funding from PSEG in January 2014 to address the critical legal needs of veterans and active military members. VLJ coordinates regular clinics in conjunction with PSEG where volunteer attorneys assist veterans with their legal challenges and honor their military service. This month, we highlight the work of PSEG attorney Matthew Jokajtys as VLJ’s volunteer of the month for his work with the Veteran’s Legal Program.
Matt has spent his career working on environmental law issues. He has a Juris Doctor from Pace Law School and a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. That degree has served him well throughout his career and now at PSEG where he handles a full range of environmental legal issues. While environmental law is Matt’s specialty, assisting veterans has become one of his passions.
Upon arriving at PSEG, Matt heard about the Veteran’s Legal Program, which includes clinic opportunities for PSEG attorneys. Matt credits PSEG’s culture of charitable giving for inspiring him to get involved with pro bono work straight away, “Public service is right in our name.” After attending one legal clinic, Matt was hooked. “I loved getting to sit across the table from a veteran and do what I can to help.” While he says it can be easy to get caught up in the minutiae of environmental law and procedure, pro bono service allows Matt to reconnect with the person-to-person element of lawyering.
Matt’s commitment to veterans is clear, as is his passion for pro bono work. “Lawyers have the incredible privilege to advocate on behalf of our clients…but with privilege comes responsibility”, says Matt. “Lawyers have an obligation to do what they can to give back.” His dedication to serving the public interest led Matt to be named Co-Chair of PSEG’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee. VLJ’s staff is continually impressed by his service to our clients and is grateful for his exceptional work.
If you would like to be like Matt and make a real difference in the lives of low-income members of our community, consider becoming a new volunteer with VLJ.