This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellowship Program, founded in 1986. Edward Sparer ’59 was a prominent lawyer and teacher whose focus on the rights of those in poverty changed social welfare policy during the 1960s. The Sparer program was developed to help students at the Law School carry on his legacy.
In April, students, faculty, and alumni joined together to commemorate the anniversary with an alumni panel that included 16 Sparer Fellows who graduated from the Law School between 1992 and 2015. In a message to the panelists and audience, Dean Nick Allard paid tribute to Professor Liz Schneider, the program’s director and founder.
“This anniversary would not be possible without the leadership, the wisdom, and the vision of Professor Liz Schneider,” he said. “When she joined the Law School faculty in 1983, there was no public interest law program. Because of the generosity of alumni donors, such as Bertram Bronzaft ’61, and Professor Schneider’s tireless dedication, Sparer today is a nationally recognized program in public interest law.”
Schneider is an expert in federal civil litigation, procedure, gender law, and domestic violence. She is the author of the prizewinning book Battered Women and Feminist Lawmaking (Yale University Press, 2000) and has coauthored numerous other books and written many articles.
At the reception that followed the panel, Edward Sparer’s son, Michael Sparer, who is professor and chair of health policy and management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, gave a toast to the guests.
“I want to emphasize how happy and honored Ed would be to know that there is such an extraordinary public interest law program in his name here at Brooklyn Law School,” he said.
Nearly 600 Sparer Public Interest Law Fellows have graduated from the Law School. Schneider welcomed many of them back for the celebration with tremendous pride. She emphasized that many of the alumni fellows hold leadership positions in public interest organizations and government agencies around the country, and others have gone on to become law school professors or work in private practice where they devote time to pro bono service. Alumni fellows continue to mentor current fellows and to speak at Sparer luncheons, forums, and symposia. They are also links to the public interest community beyond the Law School.
“It was wonderful to have our current fellows meet the alumni fellows, and very exciting for the alums as well,” Schneider said.