Public-interest auction raises thousands for law student summer fellowships
Public Relations - Published: March 27, 2013
The silent auction that overtook Main Street on the Delaware campus recently made a mighty statement in support of law students who do public interest work.

The March 19 event presented by the Public Interest Law Alliance, or PILA, has become an annual tradition and brought in roughly $9,300, with potentially more to come. The money will pay for summer fellowships awarded to law students who do work for the public good.

“This makes it feasible for the students from our school to do this kind of summer work,” said Kim Tan, who co-chaired the auction with student Casey Kehoe.

The women began work on the auction in late 2012. They and an auction committee try to hit every business in the area around the law school, seeking donations of items or in-kind services. Members of the law school community also make donations. This year among the roughly 100 auction items up for bid were a helicopter ride over Philadelphia, fencing lessons, restaurant gift cards, jewelry, gift baskets and a prime, reserved parking place on the Delaware campus during some of the coldest months of the year.

PILA students add to the fund-raising effort by combining a bake sale and raffle to the event, adding both homemade baked goods and those donated from confectioners in the area. A post-auction sale planned for the coming weeks is hoped to bring in an addition $2,000 to $3,000 through the sale of discounted vouchers on bar-preparation courses that couldn’t be sold at the auction, since PILA had an exclusive deal with Bar-Bri for the event.

Tan, who will graduate in May, has personally benefited from the auction effort in the past. Fellowships are possible for students who secure summer work through the Public Interest Resource Center in nonprofit organizations or qualifying government agencies. The awards are generally for $1,000 or $1,500. Tan said PILA tries to stretch the auction proceeds to provide meaningful assistance to as many students as possible. Those interested have to apply to the program.

She used an award last year to offset her living expenses in Philadelphia while working for the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.

“In this day and age we need a lot more lawyers who are helping people who can’t help themselves,” she said. “They are fighting for people who wouldn’t have a voice except for us.”