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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Law School Auctions Benefitting Public Interest Law Fellowships

Many of us are either writing or grading exams these days. As others have already noted, grading and writing exams are certainly not the most interesting two of the more challenging parts of our jobs. For some of us, the end of the semester is often the time when we host events that we "donated" to our law school's auction.  These auctions, as Jessica Silbey blogged on Concurring Opinions last year, aim to raise funds for students who are interested in doing public interest work.   

These events can be a lot of fun and provide great opportunities for students and their professors to celebrate the end of the school year.  A soon-to-be colleague of mine, Liz Glazer (Hofstra), for instance, will be hosting a cocktail party at her apartment tonight for students who successfully bid on her event at Hofstra's Public Justice Foundation (PJF) auction.  A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a "Crawfish and Shrimp Boil" for students who were brave enough to eat very, very spice food.  They too won the event at SMU's Association for Public Interest Law (APIL) Auction.  

I'm curious - what other types of auction items have you donated or events have you hosted? Importantly, I'm wondering whether the economic downturn has affected the support that these auctions generally receive?  SMU's APIL students were lucky to have escaped it. They raised more than $65,000.  

Posted by Rose Cuison Villazor on April 28, 2009 at 05:03 PM | Permalink


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The SMU Association for Public Interest Law's charity auction was very fortunate to succeed despite the tough economic times. It was only the third year for the event, but we raised $65,000 (including the Dean's generous contribution of $30,000). Bidding did seem a bit lower than last year, but we had many more items donated so it made up for the difference. Popular creative items were "Yoga with the Profs," "Adopt a legal writing professor's dog for a week" and "a chance to throw a pie in the face of your professor." The item that went for the most this year was a full bar prep course. All in all it was a very fun night and we were able to award over 25 stipends!

Posted by: Rachel Kingrey | May 6, 2009 8:06:39 PM

I purchased a foursome for the law school's scholarship fundraising golf scramble and our Public Interest Law Association auctioned off the other three spots. I also donated one-on-one bar tutoring, a movie and pizza night, and a bowling night. In past years, I have also donated books and concert tickets.

I don't remember the total amount raised this year. I recall it being less than two years ago (I visited elsewhere last year and so was out of the loop); but I also recall being pleasantly surprised at how much our PILA raised this year, in light of the economic climate here in Foreclosure City.

Posted by: Keith Rowley | May 2, 2009 7:22:39 PM

As president of Marquette's Public Interest Law Society, I have to say that we were lucky that we got something like 75% of the full-time faculty donating SOMETHING, be it an actual item or a check/cash donation. Personally -- and this isn't really a well-kept secret to any of the faculty members -- I considered it to be a failure if we didn't get 100% support. Frankly, the fact that we had to turn down ANYONE who wanted a fellowship from us this summer is, in my mind, a grave disappointment, but I don't get to control the economy (would that I could though; I might use it to get myself a job!)

Actually, what killed our auction wasn't the faculty donations; many of our yearly ticket items -- Greg O'Meara's Creole dinner, the Legal Writing Faculty game night, John Kircher's generous donations of a wide variety of things, the annual Bowling with the Faculty teams -- were there and got bid upon. The problem was two-fold: (1) very few of the big-ticket items from alumni -- such as the luxury box we usually get for a Marquette basketball game -- were donated this year, and (2) very few of the alumni bid highly on anything. For example, Dan Blinka's bowling team went for something like $800 last year; this year I won it for $350 when I tried to bid it up to generate interest.

Nevertheless, we ended up raising something like $55,000 after Dean Joseph Kearney's generous donations, enough to give 14 students full summer fellowships (which is 2 more than we had last year; I'm proud of that.) Hopefully, the incoming E-Board will figure out a way to increase profits; if we can get more fellowships in an economic recession, imagine what we can do when there's a rebound!

Posted by: Andrew Golden | Apr 29, 2009 10:32:10 PM

The cocktail party was lots of fun last night. My comment responds your (Rose) point about the economy's effect on the auction. I don't know the total amount raised but am confident that it was significantly less than the amount raised last year. One piece of evidence, which is somewhat self-congratulatory but, I think, is telling enough to merit sharing -- my auction item went for the highest dollar amount both this year and last year. I auctioned off the same item. About the same number of people pooled funds to buy it both years. Last year it went for $1,250. This year it went for $650.

Posted by: Liz Glazer | Apr 29, 2009 9:45:14 PM

I donate a wine & cheese party every year at my house...partly to share my love of the grape and partly as an excuse to buy some really good wines that I get to drink also.

The prizes and the bids at this year's auction seem in line with the last couple years.

Posted by: Kristen Osenga | Apr 29, 2009 10:44:59 AM

The Other Professor Garnett and I auctioned off, as we do each year, a home-cooked dinner (sometimes we've had themes, other times not) for six students. In fact, the dinner was last night, and a ton of fun.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Apr 28, 2009 6:28:02 PM

I donated two timeshare weeks this year (no way we can use them with two young kids), and $50 each of the exchange fee. These brought some of the largest auction bids, I'm proud to say. I would say the donations this year were as good as ever, and the auction raised a record amount.

Last year, we did a gourmet dinner for four at our house (thanks almost entirely to my then 8 month pregnant wife). Because bedtime is so early in our house, this year we did a pizza and beer lunch with make your own sundae desserts for six. That seemed to go over pretty well.

Posted by: Michael Risch | Apr 28, 2009 5:18:13 PM

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