Toll Public Interest Center
Public service has always been an essential feature of legal education at Penn Law.
Our school was among the first institutions to require all students to complete 70 hours of public service before graduation. In 2000 Penn Law was the first school to ever receive the ABA’s Pro Bono Publica Award.
The Toll Public Interest Center (TPIC) is the hub of public service at Penn Law. TPIC oversees the Penn Law pro bono program, facilitating a wide array of pro bono and public service opportunities that focus on impactful service, personal enrichment, and professional skill development. In addition to administering the pro bono graduation requirement, TPIC is home to all of Penn Law’s public interest programming, including the Toll Public Interest Scholars program.
Launching Public Interest Careers
TPIC collaborates with the Career Planning & Professionalism Office to help students navigate the challenges facing aspiring public interest lawyers. We counsel students about how to identify their career goals and map a clear route to them. We also educate students about the many ways to be a public interest lawyer by connecting students to practitioners, including alumni, at public interest organizations around the country. TPIC also administers Penn Law School’s post-graduate fellowships.
Inspiring Public Service Across Disciplines
The Center supports students’ public service in a number of ways:
- Each year, TPIC selects a few entering students to be Toll Public Interest Scholars. These students receive scholarship funding and organize the annual Sparer Symposium.
- TPIC also coordinates Penn Law’s requirement that every student perform seventy hours of pro bono legal service. TPIC has developed a national network of public interest organizations that ask for Penn Law students to provide pro bono legal services.
- It also supports more than 20 student-led pro bono projects with a wide range of services, from providing public benefits advice for indigent clients to teaching legal rights to high school children.
- TPIC seeks out opportunities to collaborate with other institutions within the University of Pennsylvania, developing service projects that engage legal skills along with expertise from other disciplines.
Uniting the Penn Law Public Interest Community
TPIC connects students, practitioners, faculty and staff through public service. Our Toll Public Interest Scholars organize the annual Sparer Symposium, which brings legal practitioners and academics together each year to explore topics related to law and poverty. The Journal of Law and Social Change, one of Penn Law’s six academic journals, publishes one of its issues in coordination with the Sparer Symposium. TPIC also sponsors receptions for students and alumni involved in public interest work. Once a year, TPIC invites students to an overnight public interest retreat, and during finals we host public interest coffee breaks for students. The relationships that form at our symposia, receptions, retreats, and even coffee breaks are the building blocks of public interest leadership in the decades to come.
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