Justice Center Renamed to Honor Edward P. Swyer
Ed Swyer '18H and his family believe in Albany Law School.
That belief is now forever enshrined at the law school with the renaming of the Edward P. Swyer Justice Center at Albany Law School.
The official renaming ceremony on May 2, 2023, preceded the unveiling of new signage on Albany Law School’s 2000 Building and an official proclamation by the law school’s Board of Trustees.
“I am so overwhelmed and humbled but so proud by this dedication today. I am especially thankful to be here today with my family,” Swyer said.
“Ed Swyer’s impact on our school and in our community is exponential. Thousands of individuals have received life-changing legal representation through the Justice Center. And the impact doesn’t stop here, on our campus. Graduates of the Justice Center go on to provide legal services to needy individuals, applying the lessons they’ve learned and the empathy they’ve gained, helping countless others,” said Albany Law School President and Dean Alicia Ouellette ’94.
Ed Swyer, and the Swyer family, have been extraordinary loyal supporters of the law school for over three decades. Their gifts of time, philanthropy, and expertise – helped build and grow clinical programs within The Justice Center, specifically the Community and Economic Development Clinic. They generously created an endowment to support The Justice Center in perpetuity in 2019.
The Edward P. Swyer Justice Center at Albany Law School combines theory and practice and acts as an in-house public interest law firm, providing free legal services to eligible clients in the Capital Region. In a typical academic year, The Center recruits more than 200 students for clinic projects, representing hundreds of clients and assisting many more individuals and organizations through technical assistance and community education activities. Its mission is to provide high quality legal representation and to teach students to be skilled professionals who practice law with compassion and sensitivity to individual client needs.
“This building holds our 50-year old clinical legal education program. Now, it is named after a man who inspires and lifts us up every single day. This place houses and nurtures the hearts and souls of justice-minded individuals from all walks to life. Today is the perfect day to embark on the next leg of our voyage to right injustices and provide services to the community that we love,” said Professor Sarah Rogerson, Director of the Edward P. Swyer Justice Center at Albany Law School and the Immigration Law Clinic.
Ed Swyer has effectively carried on the philanthropic mission of his father, Lewis A. Swyer. Both wanted to help Capital Region residents with business ideas and entrepreneurial dreams, but who might not have the financial means to do so.
“His focus was to eliminate poverty by investing in individuals in poorer neighborhoods,” Swyer said of his father to dozens of friends, family, and local dignitaries who attended the ceremony. “He would provide a loan to individuals without credit, assets, or a banking history. But, they had the insatiable desire to create a better life for themselves and their family by starting a business.”
The renaming is the latest of many connections between the Swyer family and Albany Law. Though not an attorney himself, Ed Swyer received an honorary degree from the law school in 2018 and in 2008 the law school honored him with the Trustees Gold Medal, the law school’s highest accolade. The medal is awarded annually to an individual with a record of exemplary support and dedication to the advancement of the school.
Then there is the work of Lewis A. Swyer’s construction company - The L.A. Swyer Co., Inc. - building the Schaffer Law Library in 1986. The “building within a building” design was ambitious and one of his father’s proudest projects, Ed Swyer said.
The elder Swyer also started a namesake scholarship which eventually expanded into the Lewis A. Swyer Academic Success Program. That program provides academic support workshops for first-year law students.
Finally, there are the strong connections with the Community Economic Development Clinic (CEDC) which started in 2016. Ed Swyer has been a crucial part of the clinic’s growth and the incredible regional impact it has on the Capitol Region.
“With the Community Economic Development Clinic, we identify individuals with the desire, ability, and idea for a business. Most of all, those individuals had a dream for a better life,” Swyer said.
Some of the clinic’s most successful clients include:
- Second Chance Opportunities
- Arbor Hill Revitalization
- Sunhee's Farm and Kitchen
- More Trees Co-Op
- Black Yard Farm Collective & Soul Fire Farm
“He is that unique individual who uses his own success to help others and does so with remarkable empathy, compassion, and humility,” Ouellette said. “With the naming of the Justice Center at Albany Law, we celebrate Ed Swyer’s legacy, and promise to ensure that Ed’s trust and faith are well placed.”