Spring 2016

Samuel P. and Ellen Sporn Establish Million-Dollar Scholarship for First-Generation Lawyers

Successful graduate gives back with an enduring gift that will change students’ lives.

Samuel P. Sporn ’53 did not learn until he was a teenager that he and his parents were undocumented immigrants living in New York City. Sporn was born in Montreal and moved with his family to the United States in 1932 when he was a young child. He grew up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, became a U.S. citizen, and graduated from his local high school at 16. He went straight to work—in the mailroom of a textile company—but soon realized that those who attended college were getting better jobs. So he continued his education, taking classes at Brooklyn College. After just over two years there, before finishing his degree, he was accepted by Brooklyn Law School, where he rose to become the class valedictorian and editor-in-chief of the Brooklyn Law Review. He also received the Dean William Payson Richardson’s scholarship award.

Sporn has been grateful for the opportunities his education offered him, which is why he and his wife of 65 years Ellen have given so generously to Brooklyn Law School: so that other students may have the same opportunity to succeed. Together, they established a new endowed scholarship through a million-dollar charitable remainder trust called the Samuel P. and Ellen Sporn Scholarship for First-Generation Lawyers. This is the second endowed scholarship the generous couple has created at the Law School, and they hope that it will enable students born in other countries to get their legal education in Brooklyn.

“I’m forever grateful and beholden to Brooklyn Law School for accepting me,” said Sporn. “I’m proud of what I accomplished there, and went on to accomplish in my life’s work as a lawyer.”

He and Ellen have been major financial supporters of Brooklyn Law School for more than 33 years. Sporn also has served as an adjunct professor since the early 1980s, giving his time to create a practical training course on civil practice.

“There is really no better way to honor the distinct legacy of Brooklyn Law School, which has been a gateway of opportunity for so many people, than to make legal education more accessible and affordable for our talented and promising students,” said Dean Nick Allard. “Our gratitude runs deep for scholarships like these, which we know will change students’ lives for many years to come. Thank you to the Sporns for this true generosity.”

Sporn’s long career has spanned the public and the private sectors. He served in the Judge Advocate General’s Office of the U.S. Army between 1953 and 1955, and then worked as an attorney with the Port Authority of New York. In 1956, he became an associate at Israel & Taubenblatt, specializing in tort and admiralty law. In 1962, he cofounded his present firm, Schoengold & Sporn, P.C., which focused on general commercial law until it began specializing in securities law in 1968. His firm represented a certified class representative in the WorldCom class action in 2005 in which $6.13 billion was recovered, one of the largest securities fraud settlements of all time.

In addition to achieving many successes as a practicing attorney in New York, Sporn is also a champion tennis player who has won a record number of Maccabiah medals in Israel; he and Ellen have been longtime generous supporters of Maccabi USA. Sporn was recently named a member of the International Jewish Sport Hall of Fame in Israel and received a Lifetime Achievement Award of Excellence for his record-breaking tennis masters and grand masters Maccabiah achievements, both in Israel and in the Pan American Maccabiah Games in South America.

Today, Sporn continues to practice law. He recently served as co-lead counsel, with a student recipient of his first endowed scholarship, to help settle a groundbreaking arbitration case against a leading bank in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. He and Ellen continue to live in Brooklyn, where they raised their three children and host many family gatherings at their home in Park Slope with their eight grandchildren.