22nd Annual Public Interest Law Group Auction To Be Hosted on November 7th

By Madiha Malik

On Friday, November 7, 2014, the Public Interest Law Group (PILG) will host the 22nd Annual PILG Auction. The event expects to bring over 300 attendees including students, professors, alumni, practicing lawyers, and judges, according to PILG Auction Chairs Arielle Sharma, Shruthi Reddy, and Daniel Spruill.

The theme for the auction is casino night and offers free attendance, dinner catered by Vito’s by the Park, and a cash bar. Over 150 items will be auctioned off including big-ticket items such as vacation packages, sports memorabilia, and BARBRI review courses, as well as smaller gifts including restaurant gift cards and gym memberships, with some items starting as low as one dollar.

“This is a fun, nice break to see people, dress up a bit, but still have a casual night. There are some really good deals,” said Sharma. There will be both a live and a silent auction. The Auction Chairs encourage attendees to view auction items as gifts for the upcoming holiday season and even for significant others, such as an anniversary package that includes a wine tasting.

Vacation packages include flight vouchers for trips to Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia, and more. The Auction Chairs are suggesting that students pool money together with friends as some of the trips are for up to six people, offering a significant discount.

“A lot of the professors have been really generous in donating,” said Sharma. Auction items from professors include white water rafting trips with Professor Cohen and Professor Rubin, dinner for four with Professor Fischl, and brunch with Professor Morawetz.

“Some of the items provide a great way to get to know professors outside of the classroom and in a fun setting,” said Sharma. The event is also a helpful networking tool, according to Spruill, with Judge Joan Alexander auctioning a golf session and Probate Judge Evelyn Daly auctioning lunch with her at the Farmington Country Club.

“The PILG Auction is the one social event that brings together people from all constituencies on campus as well as alumni, and members of the local community,” said Assistant Dean of Students Karen DeMeola. Unlike traditional law school events, according to DeMeola, the Auction allows attendees to interact informally, recounting bidding wars between students and colleagues alike. “People laugh at themselves and each other and everyone gets into the winning spirit,” said DeMeola.

Proceeds from the auction benefit the PILG Endowment Fund, which funds summer fellowships for UConn Law students serving in unpaid public interest law positions. “Last year the Foundation offered fourteen fellowships for $4,000 each,” said Spruill. According to Spruill, the fellowship amounts offered to students depend partly on the success of the auction.

Among last year’s recipients were students working for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), Commission for Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO), Office of Child Advocate, Human Rights First, The Children’s Law Center of New York, and the Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Last year, one of the fellowships was awarded to 2L Zachary Alexander who worked at the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. “Without the PILG fellowship, I would have been unable to live in New York and gain such valuable connections while fighting to preserve the constitutional rights of minorities,” recounted Alexander.

The Public Interest Law Journal and other UConn Law students will be volunteering at the event. PILG continues to accept volunteers and donations until the day of the event. To contact the Auction, email pilg@gmail.com. The PILG Auction will take place in the Starr Reading Room and will begin at 6pm. Accepted forms of payment include cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.