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Edward V. Sparer Symposium

The Sparer Symposium commemorates the life and work of the late Edward V. Sparer, Professor of Law and Social Policy.  


At the heart of TPIC’s public interest program is the annual Sparer Symposium planned by the Toll Public Interest Scholars each year. The Symposium brings together legal academics and practitioners to provide insight into the dynamic relationship between scholarship and practice in the area of poverty law, merging theory and practice. Students and alumni attend panels and meet with speakers, delving deeply into important issues of our time.


Sparer’s work combined a passionate concern about the poor with intellectual rigor and a profound conviction that the problems of poverty are solvable.           

In 1983, he founded Mobilization for Youth Services, the first neighborhood legal services program and then the Columbia Center on Social Welfare and Policy and Law, the first national support center for legal services. In 1984, the first Sparer Symposium was organized.

Past Sparer Symposia:

(Click on the image to see details of event)

imageFall 2014: “Law 2.0: Progress and Challenges for Justice in the Digital Age
Keynote: Mark O’Brien, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Pro Bono Net

imageSpring 2014: “Gender and Social Inequality: Why Women’s Rights Still Matter”
Keynote: Marcia Greenberger, Esq., L’70, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center,
Washington, DC

image2013: “Repairing the Broken Door:  Strategies for Immigration Advocacy and Reform”
Keynote:  Jose Antonio Vargas, Founder of Define American, Pullitzer Prize Winning Journalist

image2012: “Overcoming the Odds: Strategies for Facilitating the Transition from Adolescence to Adulthood
Keynote: Rachel Lloyd,
GEMS: Girls Educational & Mentoring Services


2011: Partnering Against Poverty: Examining Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to Public Interest Lawyering”
Keynote: Sister Mary Scullion, Co-Founder, Executive Director and President of Project H.O.M.E.

image2010: “Now More Than Ever: Expanding Access to Justice in Times of Crisis”
Keynote: Peter Edelman, Georgetown University Law Center
Special guest remarks from Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez

image 2009: “Crime in the City: Current Policies & Alternative Approaches”
Keynote: Jeremy Travis, President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice

image 2008:“Redefining Aggregate Welfare: Revitalizing a City in Pursuit of Economic Justice”
Keynote: Mary Houghton,
President of ShoreBank Corporation