The first time Stanley King heard Sharon King’s voice was in a Tax Procedure and Fraud class at Rutgers Law School in Camden in 1992. “I heard someone in the back of the room ask a question with a very distinct Caribbean accent,” Stanley said.
A native of Brooklyn whose parents were from the British Virgin Islands, he later spoke with Sharon while they were checking their student mailboxes. He learned that she was from Trinidad, but had moved to Brooklyn when she was 11 and that they had grown up only a few blocks apart. “I thought there were too many coincidences,” Sharon said.
Sharon earned her Rutgers Law degree in 1993, and Stanley finished in 1994. They married in 1996, the same year they started King & King LLC, a law firm based in Woodbury, New Jersey. In the 23 years since, they have become two of the most respected attorneys in South Jersey, described by a Philadelphia Inquirer headline as a “civil rights power couple” and recently awarded the prestigious Camden County Bar Foundation (CCBF) Hon. John F. Gerry Award. “Stanley and Sharon King have built a reputation as prominent civil rights attorneys willing to face big law firms in some of the toughest cases in the region, taking on police misconduct and wrongful-death cases,” a CCBF press release announcing the award said. “They have won million-dollar settlements for victims and families of those killed or injured in violent encounters with law enforcement.”
The Kings said while the work they do is challenging—and often financially precarious, because most of their clients do not have resources to pay unless they win their cases—they view it as a calling. “It’s rewarding,” Sharon said. “Somebody has to do it. If we don’t do it, nobody else does. There are not a lot of civil rights lawyers in this area, although there is a great need.”
Stanley said their work can be emotionally difficult. “When you deal with a wrongful death case, you become very close to the families,” he said. “And when you see the pain associated with a family and loved ones when they lose someone—in an unnatural and uncalled for manner—it sticks with you. It leaves a mark on you forever.”
The Kings credit the support they received from faculty and the Black Law Student Association (BLSA), which celebrated its 50th anniversary at Rutgers Law in Camden earlier this year, with helping them to launch legal careers. “BLSA offered an opportunity for black students to have support,” Sharon said.
While being married and having a family and working together sometimes can be a challenge, they are understanding when paperwork piles up at home. “I don’t have to make an excuse why the dining room table looks the way it does,” Stanley said. “We are equally dedicated to the kind of work we do.”
Story originally appeared in Rutgers Camden Magazine