“Although law might not seem like a worthy profession to donate to, the proceeds from the auction are really necessary,” said Matt Brooks, president of Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) and Boston College Law School ’15 at the foundation’s annual fundraising auction. Held in the Heights Room on March 20, BC Law School PILF sponsored its 26th annual auction to raise funds for stipends to support Law School students working at public interest law firms and organizations.
PILF is run by the law students and uses the proceeds from the auction, its largest fundraising event of the year, to fund students who cannot regularly afford to work in the traditionally low-paying public interest jobs. Law students can apply for stipends in order to practice law either locally, nationally, or internationally during the summer for those who cannot afford legal work.
“Over half the people who need lawyers can’t afford one,” Brooks said. “We have people working in refugee settlements, foreclosure offices, prosecution offices, and public defense.” According to the event’s program, “PILF has supported organizations that uphold civil liberties, protect human rights and deliver justice” for over 25 years. Since this type of legal work is usually low-paying, PILF establishes stipends so that students who participate in these public interest jobs are guaranteed an hourly salary of $10.50 per hour.
Dean of the Law School Vincent Rougeau opened the night, welcoming the crowd and emphasizing the importance of PILF and the work done by those receiving the stipends. He urged guests to bid generously, especially on the prize of the home-cooked Louisiana dinner he would make for the winner.
The night consisted of both silent and live auctions, with prizes including Red Sox home plate seats, venue rentals, selections of wine, and restaurant dinners. Many of the items were geared toward the law students, such as dinners at professors’ homes during finals week and the first pick time during class registration period-a highly bid-upon item. Special BC items were auctioned off at a later time, including apparel and a hand-made platter inscribed with “BC” in bottle caps.
The auction items were donated by the law students who were applying for the stipends. Each student had to give three items in order to be eligible to apply, receiving points on their application for the number of items he or she donated.
“The applications is based off of a point system, that way you can earn more points by donating an item to better your chances of receiving the stipend,” Brooks said.
The night honored Gary Buseck, the legal director of the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) and a triple Eagle for his commitment to public interest work.
“He has done really amazing work in terms of … making gay marriage legal in Massachusetts,” Brooks said. “What’s really amazing about Gary in the short time I’ve known him is how humble he is.”
“Although we have all this, we don’t have nearly enough money to fund everyone, so the process is still pretty competitive,” Brooks said.
Although the auction is its main fundraising event of the year, PILF hosts smaller events to fund the summer work of the students.
In his letter to attendees in the event’s program, Brooks thanks patrons, saying, “by bidding generously tonight, you support BC Law students in their public interest pursuits as well as the populations they serve.”