Sherrod Smith

Sherrod Smith

Current location: Philadelphia, PA

Current occupation: Deputy Attorney General in New Jersey 

WFB graduation year: 2006

Post high school education experience: Boston University, UPenn Law & Princeton University

Interview and story by WFB senior, Anavi Prakash

Interview and story by WFB senior, Anavi Prakash


The “most impactful” part of Sherrod Smith’s life has been working in Washington DC. He worked at The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and helped launch projects focusing on hate crimes and bias-motivated incidents. Working with colleagues who have since become friends and mentors, Smith said he was able to find areas that interested him. 


“It was really unique for me,” he said. 


Before this, he worked at the Department of Homeland Security under the Obama administration.


After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and Princeton University in 2022, he is now a Deputy Attorney General in New Jersey. A month in, Smith is working on issues related to civil rights, law enforcement, policy development and police and community relations, all to grow equity. 



On top of this, Smith looks for opportunities to make an impact in the Philadelphia community. 


“I’ve always naturally been drawn to volunteering outside my responsibilities,” Smith said. 


He has volunteered at food banks, helped people file their income taxes and registered eligible voters.


“[It is] interestingly informative about the work I do,” he said. 


Smith also values finding a happy balance between work and leisure time.


“Challenge yourself, but find a sweet spot,” he advised.


His leisure comes from playing basketball, something he has done at Whitefish Bay High School, Boston University (where he graduated with a BA in Economics) and with former President Obama. 




After being on the East Coast since graduating high school, Smith said he misses the Midwest, especially the kindness and open green spaces it has.


“[I’m] always proud to tell people that I’m from Wisconsin,” he said. 


When he meets someone from the Midwest on the east coast, it’s “almost like a kinship."


Smith said he has thought about moving back to Wisconsin. He credits his time in high school history and economics classes with sparking his interest in the “social sides of policy”.  


“[I was] profoundly impacted by being taught by different professors [in high school]," Smith said.


He also said class discussions helped further his understanding of and interest in policy and law. 


Especially with the work he does now, Wisconsin, a state “entrenched [in] racial segregation," exposed him to the difference in opportunities people have.


This exposure was furthered by seeing family in different areas of the country, his father’s side being from New York City and his mother’s side being from rural Wisconsin. 


If he does move back to Wisconsin, Smith wants to work on the public interest side of law and policy. 


Right now, his goals are to learn how to be a lawyer and learn from the mentors he gained in DC. Smith hopes to be “walking [in] their footsteps” in his career.


He said he will “always be a student” throughout his life and advises others to do the same because “there are always lessons to learn from everybody.”  


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  • Christine Mattsson
    commented 2022-12-09 09:26:31 -0600
    This is fascinating. Loved the story and seeing the success of Sherrod Smith- especially his giving back to the community. Young people need to learn this important component of life, giving to others is proven to help you live longer, decrease depression and anxiety and is what created strong communities best of all.