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On Jan. 3, Law School alumnus Matthew Cartwright (D-Pa.) was sworn in to the 113th Congress.

He represents the 17th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, which is northwest of Philadelphia.

Cartwright — a 1986 graduate of Penn Law — will serve as a member of both the Oversight and Government Reform and Natural Resources Committees. He was also selected Democratic Freshman Class President — a mostly ceremonial position — for 2013 by his fellow freshmen representatives on Friday.

He said in a press release that he is “excited to lead this historically diverse freshman class” and that “it is imperative … we work together with our fellow freshmen on the other side of the aisle to tackle the unprecedented challenges that face our nation.”

Before Congress, Cartwright was a partner at Munley, Munley & Cartwright, P.C. During that time, he was a member of the Board of Governors of the American Association for Justice — an organization that seeks to ensure that any citizen harmed by the misconduct or negligence of another can obtain justice in America’s courtrooms.

“He genuinely cares about people,” Todd Johns, an attorney in private practice, said of Cartwright. “When he sees an injustice, he wants to try to fix it.”

Cartwright also volunteered for Boy Scouts of America, Rotary International and the Hope Center Legal Clinic and participated in the Trial Lawyers Care project in the wake of 9/11, handling the cases of seven families before the Victims’ Compensation Fund.

On Jan. 24, 2012, Cartwright began his campaign by declaring his candidacy against incumbent Tim Holden — a more conservative Democrat — in the Democratic primary.

His platform advocated support for President Barack Obama’s health care legislation — a package Holden voted against while in Congress — federal investment in American infrastructure, increased taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans and additional finances devoted to education programs.

On April 24, Holden — a 20-year incumbent — ceded victory to Cartwright. The Penn Law alumnus went on to defeat Republican candidate Laureen Cummings in the general election by a 60.3 to 39.7 percent margin.

“As his partner, it was a huge loss for me,” Chris Munley, a partner at Munley Law — formerly Munley, Munley & Cartwright, P.C.— and brother-in-law of the congressman, said. “Matt was an extremely talented attorney … [but] he is what our country needs [in Congress].”

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