Skip to main content area Skip to main content area Skip to institutional navigation Skip to search Skip to section navigation

Edward V. Sparer Symposium

The Sparer Symposium commemorates the life and work of the late Edward V. Sparer, Professor of Law and Social Policy. The 36th Annual Sparer Symposium will be held on Friday, January 13, 2017. 



University of Pennsylvania Law School
3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104


8:30 AM

Continental Breakfast and Registration

9:00 AM

Opening Remarks

9:15 AM

Behind the Curtain: Examining the Impact of Voter Disenfranchisement in the 2016 Election
(1.0 ethics/.5 substantive)

David Daley - Author, Ratf**ked

Seth Kreimer - Kenneth W. Gemmill Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Nina Perales - Vice President of Litigation, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF)

Caitlin Swain - Civil Rights Attorney, Forward Justice 

10:45 AM

Law and Disorder: What Does Criminal Justice Reform Look Like Now?
(1.5 ethics)

Angela Davis - Professor of Law, American University Washington College

John Hollway - Associate Dean and Executive Director of the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Alec Karakatsanis - Founder and Executive Director, Civil Rights Corps

John Malcolm - Director, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and the Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow

Jo-Ann Wallace, President and CEO of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA)

12:15 PM

Lunch Pick-Up

12:30-1:30 PM

Keynote Address
(1.0 substantive)
Beth Donovan, Senior Washington Editor for NPR News

1:45 PM

National Security at What Cost? Evaluating the New Administration’s Proposed Policies
(1.5 substantive)

Eleanor Acer - Senior Director, Refugee Protection Program of Human Rights First

Jasmine M. El-Gamal - Senior Fellow, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security

Andrew Kim - Founder, RISE When We Fall

Leigh O’Neill - Managing Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, Truman National Security Project

3:15 PM

Whose Voice is it Anyway? The Influence of Campaign Finance on Party Politics
(1.5 substantive)

Jason Abel - Of Counsel, Steptoe & Johnson

Rebecca Ballhaus - Reporter, The Wall Street Journal

Kedric Payne – Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Ian Vandewalker - Counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program

4:45 PM


Registration for the 2017 Sparer Symposium has closed as we have reached capacity. Please email Hillary Wiesel ( if you have any questions.

This program has been approved for 7.0 total CLE credits (4.5 substantive, 2.5 ethics) for Pennsylvania lawyers. CLE credit may be available in other jurisdictions as well. Attendees seeking CLE credit should bring separate payment in the amount of $280.00 ($70.00 public interest/non-profit attorneys) cash or check made payable to The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.





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)

Fall 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

Spring 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

2013: “Repairing the Broken Door:  Strategies for Immigration Advocacy and Reform”
Keynote:  Jose Antonio Vargas, Founder of Define American, Pullitzer Prize Winning Journalist

2012: “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.

2010: “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

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

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