Law student helping Flint residents


­By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News
Madeline Sinkovich is interning this summer with Legal Services of Eastern Michigan (LSEM) in Flint, through a Wayne State University Law School Public Interest Law Fellowship.

“I sought out the Flint location because I was very moved by the Flint water crisis and the state’s response,” the rising 2L explains. “Legal Services is a part of the Flint community and provides many services.”

Sinkovich’s internship includes working in Family Law, Landlord/Tenant Law, and with Legal Service’s Fair Housing Center. While the majority of tasks are legal research and writing briefs and memos for attorneys, she also attends weekly meetings and events with the Flint Recovery Group Community Partners on behalf of LSEM and the Flint Water Advocacy Coalition, comprising lawyers and firms as well as the ACLU of Michigan and the Genesee County Bar Association.

She recently attended the Michigan Commission on Civil Rights’ public hearing, where Wayne Law Professor Peter Hammer gave a presentation on behalf of the Keith Center for Civil Rights discussing the history of housing discrimination in Flint.

“We’re in the process of planning community legal clinics to help Flint residents with legal issues arising out of the water crisis,” she says. “We’ve also planned and implemented specific trainings in the community for both legal workers and community members to access information and resources.”

In the summer of 2014, Sinkovich interned with Transportation Riders United in Detroit, where she coordinated the social media for the SMART bus campaign and learned about the history of Detroit, lack of public transit, and impact of the car industry on regional transportation.

“Although the M1 rail is underway, Detroit still lacks in effective regional transit compared to other American cities,” she says. “It’s a disadvantage to us all, but specifically to low-income residents whose lives would be greatly impacted with access to effective regional transit.”

Always interested in the law, Sinkovich – who as an undergrad at Kalamazoo College was awarded the Babette Trader Campus Citizenship and Leadership Award – is specifically interested in the civil rights movement of the last century and the fight for social justice today.

“There is injustice within a system designed to maintain justice and equality in society and I’m interested in a career that makes our communities better places to live,” she says.

During her senior year at Kalamazoo College, she wrote her thesis, “Charles Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and Pauli Murray: Social Science, Gender & the Road to Brown,” after receiving a grant to perform research at Howard University to study the legal journey for Brown v Board of Education.

Sinkovich, who has been accepted to the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Clinic this fall, is enjoying her law school experience.

“Wayne Law is a great environment with a diverse population,” she says. “I enjoy the wide range of public interest based classes and clinics as well as the like-minded individuals I’ve had the opportunity to work with and learn alongside.”

She serves as social media coordinator for “If/When/How,” (formerly Law Students for Reproductive Justice). Last year, the group held a drive to supply homeless shelters with feminine protection products.

“These essential products are often unfairly taxed as luxury items and are far overpriced,” she says. “Access to these products is critical for women’s equality and advancement in society.”
Sinkovich also is a member of the National Lawyers Guild, where she hopes to take a leadership position. A significant part of the Guild chapter is Legal Observing with the Civil Resistance Committee, and she was among a group of Detroit NLG members who headed to Cleveland to assist the Ohio chapter in Legal Observing the 2016 Republican National Convention.

“NLG stands for the idea that human rights should be protected over property rights and I couldn’t agree more,” she says.

Attracted to Wayne Law because of the Keith Center for Civil Rights, Sinkovich takes pride in being part of the Keith Students for Civil Rights organization.

“We work to tackle issues such as diversity in the law school, to educate the youth about their rights and encourage them as they find their way in society,” she says.

Her career goal is to be a civil rights lawyer and activist.

“While I’m interested in most areas of civil rights and public interest law in general, I’m particularly drawn to police misconduct litigation and work that holds the state accountable to its average citizens,” she says. 

The Novi native enjoys reading and studying progressive legal history, as well as exercise and recreational activities. She also appreciates Detroit’s rich history of social justice activism.

“It’s a place full of individuals who care about their community and are dedicated to the advancement and improvement of the city for everyone,” she says. 


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