Matthew D. Baxter, immigration lawyer

Matthew D. Baxter
Matthew D. Baxter
Posted: September 19, 2011

Matthew D. Baxter, 53, of Huntingdon Valley, an immigration lawyer, died of liver failure caused by side effects of cancer treatment Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Baxter, who was a past president of the Philadelphia chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and who served on the board of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society for more than 15 years, represented a significant number of clients on a pro bono basis, his wife, Bonnie Allyn Barnett, said.

She said her husband helped an Afghan family in Allentown save a son from deportation. "The family was so grateful that we were invited to a feast in Matthew's honor," she said. "That kind of thing has been repeated."

Born in Brooklyn, Mr. Baxter grew up in Westchester County, N.Y., and earned a bachelor's degree in Russian from Cornell University in 1979.

After earning a law degree from Boston University in 1982, Mr. Baxter worked in Boston as a commercial litigator until moving in 1992 to Philadelphia to be with Barnett, an environmental lawyer and managing partner at Drinker, Biddle & Reath L.L.P.

At that point, Mr. Baxter, who spoke Russian, decided to become an immigration lawyer, merging his interests in languages and other cultures with his law career.

Barnett said Mr. Baxter's pro bono work went beyond legal representation to helping clients find housing and services. For the last five years, Mr. Baxter was the liaison between the Immigration Court and the local chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, she said.

Mr. Baxter worked as long as he could, his wife said, sending e-mails and trying to ensure that his clients were taken care of after he was admitted to the hospital for the last time, on Sept. 3.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Baxter is survived by his parents, Sy and Naomi Baxter; and a brother, Jon Eric Baxter.

A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, at Goldstein's Rosenberg's Raphael-Sacks Memorial Chapel, 312 Second Street Pike, Southampton.


Contact staff writer Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651 or hbrubaker@phillynews.com.

 

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