Helping students work for the greater good
The Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellowship prepares lawyers to work for social justice. The core component of the Sparer Fellowship Program is a 10-week paid summer internship with a public interest organization in the U.S. or abroad. Fellows also attend monthly luncheons that highlight current public interest issues, help plan academic events, and participate in the selection of new Sparer fellows.
Throughout their Law School years and beyond, fellows are mentored by faculty experts who teach courses and have rich backgrounds in this area of the law, as well as leading professionals and distinguished alumni fellows practicing in this area.
Professor Edward V. Sparer
The program, founded in 1986 by Professor Elizabeth Schneider, was named in honor of the late Ed Sparer, Professor of Law and Social Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and a graduate of Brooklyn Law School in the class of 1959. Named as one of “The Lawyers of the Century” by American Lawyer, Professor Sparer was a pioneer in the fields of poverty and health law. His untimely death in 1983 ended the career of a nationally recognized teacher, scholar, and activist, but he remains an inspiration to those who are committed to public service law.
Serious consideration is given to those applicants with strong academic backgrounds, demonstrated aptitude for law study, and other achievements, including proven interest in and commitment to the goals of the program. Therefore early filing of the admission application is strongly encouraged.
For incoming students, applications for the Sparer Fellowship are due no later than April 17 of the year prior to the fellowship year. For students applying in their first or second year of law school, applications are due in late October.
Applicants must submit information about their scholastic and employment records, community service and outside activities related to public interest, a personal statement, and at least one letter of recommendation. The applicant’s interest and commitment to public interest issues and demonstrated academic achievement are important selection criteria. The Sparer Fellowship Committee interviews finalists. Fellows are required to commit to active participation in the work of the program and must maintain a grade point average in the top half of their class for the duration of the fellowship.
Sparer Alumni Network
One of the first law school public interest fellowship programs, the Sparer Program has achieved nationwide recognition. Its excellent reputation opens doors for fellows to pursue successful careers in all areas of public interest law.
Since 1985, over four hundred Sparer Public Interest Law Fellows have graduated from Brooklyn Law School. Many Sparer alumni hold leadership positions in public interest organizations and government agencies around the country, including the Urban Justice Center, U.S. Department of Justice, New York City Department of Law, New York State Public Employees Federation, New York State Attorney General’s Office, New York Legal Assistance Group, National Abortion Federation, Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, The Door, Legal Aid Society, Cabrini Green Legal Aid in Chicago, Empire State Pride Agenda, and many community legal service programs and international human rights projects. Other alumni have gone on to teach at law schools around the country, while many of those who work in private practice continue to devote a portion of their time to pro bono work.
Sparer Fellowship alumni continue to be an important part of the Program. They mentor current fellows, speak at monthly Sparer luncheons or at Sparer forums and symposia, and serve as a resource for the broader public interest community within the Law School. They are also crucial links to the public interest community beyond the Law School in terms of jobs and networking.
Paid Summer Internship
The Sparer Fellowship program is an outstanding opportunity for high-caliber, qualified students to engage in concentrated studies and unique internships. Fellows are placed at leading public interest organizations, in the U.S. and abroad, providing legal services to underrepresented constituencies. Members of the Sparer Faculty Committee and the Director of Public Service Programs assist fellows in finding a placement that matches their interests. Fellows receive a stipend of $5,000 for their summer internship, and additional funds are available to offset travel expenses when a placement is located outside of New York.
The internships provide students with valuable experience in state and federal litigation, drafting legislation, commenting on proposed laws and regulations, organizing communities, counseling clients, and negotiating with adversaries and government agencies. Each fall, the fellows present compelling accounts of their internships to the Law School community that help educate their peers on public interest issues.
Fellows are mentored by members of the Sparer Fellowship Committee as well as alumni fellows, creating a close-knit community of like-minded individuals. They also attend the program’s monthly luncheons on timely topics, and the annual Sparer forum or symposium on critical issues in public interest law.
Public Interest Forum
The Sparer Program serves as a public interest resource for the entire Law School community. The program sponsors an annual public interest law forum or symposium that draws nationally-recognized lawyers and public policy advocates to the Law School to discuss critical issues in public interest law. These programs have provided a rich exchange of ideas, contributing immensely to the intellectual discourse at the Law School. Several issues of the Law School’s journals have been devoted to these symposia.
Sparer Fellowship Committee Mentors
The Sparer Fellowship Committee, under the leadership of its Director, Professor Cynthia Godsoe, is an outstanding group of faculty with a strong commitment to public interest law. Their prior work experience, and their scholarly and teaching interests reflect a diverse range of public interest work. The Committee members serve as advisors and mentors to the Sparer Fellows.