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Toll Public Interest Center

Public service has always been an essential feature of legal education at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.

Associate Dean & Executive Director Arlene Finkelstein meets with students in TPIC’s Offices.

Our school was among the first institutions to require all students to complete 70 hours of public service before graduation. In 2000 the Law School 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 the Law School. TPIC oversees the Law School’s 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 the Law School’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 the 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 the Law School’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 the Law School’s 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 Law School’s 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 the Law School’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.

To read more about the work that the TPIC Community engages in, we invite you to read our latest edition on Experience Service, our semesterly service updates magazine.