Sparer Fellowship

Public Interest Debate

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.

  • This forum addressed the legal issues associated with disaster preparedness, and best practices for reaching vulnerable communities in the aftermath of a disaster, such as Hurricane Sandy. There was a discussion on New York City's particular vulnerability to storm surges as a result of climate change, and how regulatory controls, such as zoning and design guidelines, can make cities like New York more resilient to severe storm events. The forum also focused on neighborhood-based approaches for reaching populations in need of legal assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and how litigation can address unmet community needs ranging from housing to public assistance.

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  • This Forum explored the causes of poverty and the impact of the recession on low-income individuals and families and examined how advocates use the law and other disciplines to address these problems. Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Political Science, CUNY Graduate Center, and national expert on poverty and social movements, was the keynote speaker. Leading advocates from legal and non-profit organizations currently developing innovative strategies commented and discussed their work.

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  • On March 25, 2011, over 150 alumni and friends of the Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellowship Program gathered at Brooklyn Law School to celebrate the program’s 25thanniversary at an invitation-only panel discussion followed by a reception and dinner.

    “Sparer occupies a special place for us, enabling our students, and ennobling our institution,” said Michael Cahill, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

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  • Over 300,000 immigrants a year are detained by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. These immigrants are held at facilities both run by, or under contract with, USICE and are wholly dependent on the facilities for the provision of healthcare. In recent years, studies by community-based organizations, the government, and media have uncovered systemic deficiencies in healthcare that have led to suffering and even death for persons held in immigration detention. This forum will grapple with the complex nature of the problem of providing healthcare to such a transient population including language barriers, costs, and government and institutional perceptions of the level of care appropriate for this population of detainees. Experts from the government, medical doctors, and community based immigrant advocacy organizations will discuss the scope of the problem, its public policy implications, and possible solutions grounded in administrative and legislative reform as well as litigation.

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  • Historically, all levels of government have taken an active role in housing and economic development. As the federal government undergoes a change in administrations during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, this conference examined two of the key roles that government plays in housing. The two morning panels will evaluate the role of federal and state governments in housing finance, especially in light of the ongoing crisis. The two afternoon panels explored local government innovations in the economic development sector. Panelists explained and evaluated how government’s role is changing in response to this new political and financial environment. Papers from the symposium will be published in the Journal of Law and Policy.

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  • In the mid-20th century, the Warren Court revolutionized constitutional law by nationalizing norms of rights and equality. From Brown v. Board of Education to Miranda v. Arizona to Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court invited those seeking to promote rights and equality to litigate in the federal courts. But, following changes in the composition of the Court in later decades, the tide has turned.

    The Roberts Court has shown a willingness to water down or eliminate rights in some areas and seems likely to continue the trend of lowering the federal constitutional floor. Litigators who explore the alternative of going to the states confront the expense of litigating issues fifty times instead of one, among other challenges.

    This symposium assessed how organizations whose mission is to promote rights and equality have responded to these challenges. It will compare the strategies that have led to successor failure in different areas, such as the death penalty, reproductive freedom, LGBT rights, eminent domain, and school equity, and considered how well national and local organizations have adapted to decentralization.

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  • In December 2003, the General Assembly of the United Nations requested the Secretary-General to prepare an in-depth study on global violence against women. This landmark study was presented to the General Assembly in September 2006 for consideration, the first time that the General Assembly has ever discussed this issue.

    This forum brought together a number of leading international human rights scholars and activists who work on global violence against women, including individuals who were involved with this study. They discussed the possibilities that this study presents for future work and assessed the obstacles that are presented.

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  • Brooklyn Law School celebrated 20 years of the Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellowship Program. The Sparer Program continues to serve as the heart of the Law School’s public interest law community, offering students the opportunity to serve leading public interest organizations throughout the nation.

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Learn more about the recent Sparer Forum.

Have questions? We have answers.

Sparer Fellowship Program
Marva Skeene
Brooklyn Law School
250 Joralemon Street, Room 800A
Brooklyn, New York 11201

Telephone: (718) 780-0351

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