I apologize to my many devoted readers (Do I even have those?!) for my absence this semester. As you may or may not know, currently, I serve as the Co-President of the Public Interest Project (“PIP”). PIP takes a large amount of my energy, especially as we prepare for our biggest fundraiser, our 22nd Annual PIP Auction Gala.
What is PIP?
PIP is one of Boston University School of Law’s largest student-run organizations with a general membership of over 200 students. PIP is not just any student organization, however. PIP functions as a non-profit to support and encourage public interest and pro bono work inside and outside of BU Law.
How does PIP support public interest?
PIP accomplishes its goals by providing and promoting community service, pro bono, and internship opportunities for interested law students.
Volunteerism and Community Service
This year, our membership contributed over 1400 hours of community and pro bono work since September 2012, and we’re still going strong! Our Community Service Chair, Elizabeth McIntrye, provided numerous and diverse community service and pro bono opportunities throughout the Greater Boston area, including Cradles to Crayons; Boston Cares; Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders; Shelter Legal Services; Greater Boston Food Bank; Desmond, Strang & Scott LLP’s Criminal Offender Records Information (“CORI”) Project; Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights’ Election Protection; and more. I am so proud of Liz’s initiative and our membership’s hard work.
Career and Pro Bono Panels
In addition to our community service, PIP also encourages students to pursue and accept public interest internships, externships, and jobs. To meet this goal, PIP hosted multiple new events and panels to enable students to network and learn within the public interest sector. Led by the brillant Career Development & Programming Chair Amy Baral and Social Programming Chair Sara Fiorillo, PIP kicked off the year with the 1st Annual PIP Networking Event with support from McDermott Will & Emery and the BU Law Career Development Office (“CDO”). We had over 100 attendees with speakers from the public interest, private, and academic sectors. We continued this success in the Spring by offering a Public Interest Summer Internship panel, featuring student speakers and local attorneys from legal service organizations who routinely hire BU Law student interns for the summer. Finally, we hosted a Pro Bono panel, which allowed students and local attorneys to speak about the importance of pro bono work, local legal projects looking for law students’ help, and the benefits of this kind of work for any legal career.
Summer Internship Opportunities
With excellent connections with the CDO and Alumni Office, PIP benefits from a strong alumni network of resources to help students find public interest summer internships. Each week, PIP emails its general memberships a list of available opportunities, generated with large help from PIP Secretary Alexandra Bonneau and CDO Assistant Director for Public Interest Advising Michelle Grossfield. PIP also boasts an impressive membership of second and third-year students who are available to discuss their summer and semester internships and pro bono activities.
Summer Grant Program
To support our membership and the law school dedication to public interest, PIP leverages resources to provide a number of grants for students who accept unpaid summer internships with legal service agencies, non-profit organizations, and government entities. These students are able to work in these positions with grants, allowing them to focus on helping some of their communities’ most disadvantaged individuals and to remedy gross injustices within their local community, nation, and world. Each year, between 45 and 80 first and second-year students apply for these $4,000 grants by completing PIP’s competitive grant application process. Last year, PIP was able to fundraise, with support from the Dean’s Office, Student Affairs Office, CDO, and Alumni Office, to fund 100% of its applicants. This year, PIP has 48 eligible applicants who completed over 15 community service hours and 10 hours devoted to PIP, and wrote a narrative about their commitment to public interest, scored by faculty, PIP Executive Board members/former PIP grant recipients, and local attorneys. We hope to fund each and every one of these deserving applicants!
What makes PIP unique?
Obviously I’m biased; PIP has become my first exploration into non-profit management. I’m hooked and I know that I will return in some capacity to working in these endeavors after graduating. PIP helps diversify BU Law’s student body, serves as a valuable resources for students by students regarding public interest and pro bono work, and fundraises extensively to help subsidize students without burdening the school’s administration. After looking at multiple public interest initiatives and programs at other law schools, I can honestly say that PIP is a gem. Not many schools subsidize to the extent of PIP’s grant program nor do they do so with the initiative of a student executive board. Further, this organization helped me, as a third year student, to develop my leadership, management, and organizational skills by serving with my beautiful and talented Co-President, Zoë Sajor. I was able to encourage and support a marvelous board of 15 first, second, and third-year students, who I have come to regard as some of my colleagues and best friends. PIP has become my vehicle to express my creativity by creating new projects and programs to accomplish our goals. This year, Zoë and I introduced, with extensive help from Fundraising Chairs Kate Kramer and Melanie Nelson, multiple new fundraising initiatives, including PIP Amici Tables, PIP Challenge, Bidding@BU, and PIP Fellowship Program. The support from BU Law faculty, staff, and alumni and Boston law firms has been overwhelming. Without the law school’s backing, PIP would be groundless and my work would be meaningless. For that, I am truly grateful. When I picked BU Law, I didn’t know the extent of the school’s commitment to ensure each and every student had an avenue to pursue his or her career goals. Public interest and PIP is just one way that BU Law supports this commitment.
What’s next for PIP (and me)?
I am excited to announce the PIP will host its 22nd Annual Public Interest Project Auction Gala on Thursday, March 28, 2013, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Metcalf Ballroom of the George Sherman Union at Boston University. This Auction Gala is PIP’s largest fundraiser with over 500 local attorneys, BU Law faculty and staff members, students, and members of the Greater Boston community. With generous donations from the community, PIP is able to raise substantial funds towards its grant program at this Auction. Additionally, it’s an excellent networking and social event for our membership to meet and mingle with former PIP grant recipients, attorneys from the private and public interest sectors, and faculty members committed to supporting PIP. With outstanding event planning by Auction Chair Jenna Zellmer, assisted by Auction Co-Chairs Elle Srisirikul, Amber Charles, and Brigid Morris, this year should be our best Auction Gala yet!
Do you want to attend the PIP Auction Gala?
Of course, you do! At only $15 for students and public interest attorneys, and $20 for general admission, attendees can bid on a number of enticing packages, including signed baseballs and jerseys, mountain resort and beach getaways, local restaurant and theatre packages, and outings with favorite BU Law professors and staff members! Tickets are available at: http://buslpip.eventbrite.com.
Bring cash, checkbook, or credit card for TWO Silent Auctions and a highly-contested Live Auction. Don’t want to bid? We have Balloon Prizes for $5 and $10, a Salary-for-a-Day program, and PIP Challenge for interested donors. Additionally, we have food and drink (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) for all attendees! Enjoy the popular Legal Follies Band, back from their highly-attended tour to the Law Auditorium for the Annual Legal Follies show!
Need another reason? PIP honors FOUR outstanding alumni from the public interest, private, and academic sectors. Richard Jones (JD ’95, LLM ’05), a partner of Sullivan & Worcester; Chris Strang (JD ’05), a founding partner of Desmond, Strang & Scott, LLP; Rachel Biscardi (JD ’00), Director of Pro Bono Projects for the Women’s Bar Foundation; and Professor Frances Miller (JD ’65), Professor Law Emerita at Boston University School of Law. Each of this year’s PIP Award Recipients contributed significantly to PIP’s goals and missions in public interest and pro bono work.
Can’t attend but want to support PIP?
You can! PIP accepts all donations on its fiscal year from July 1 to June 30. We accept cash or check with more information available on our website at: www.bupip.org/donate. PIP is always looking to establish partnerships with law firms! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our fellowship program and how to become more involved in our mission.
Moving forward (for me)
My time with PIP is coming to an end. I can’t express how sad I am to hand over PIP. Luckily, I leave behind an impressive board and membership who have grown as fearless leaders before my eyes this year. I am incredibly proud of their accomplishments as advocates for PIP’s missions and young aspiring attorneys. I know that I will continue to be involved in PIP as an alumni. I am incredibly thankful to my mentors Theresa Perkins, Adrian Guzman, and Daniel Levin for their tremendous guidance and generosity over my three years with PIP. With their support, I am lucky to join them as alumni. I hope to explore my involvement in the non-profit world and lend my passion and talents wherever needed, especially for projects involving domestic violence, theatre, LGBTQ individuals, youth empowerment, and community and economic development. PIP has fulfilled my third year of law school with purpose and experience. I am extremely grateful to the many people who touched my life through this project, especially my Co-President Zoë Sajor. I hope everyone finds a best friend and colleague in law school who completes your sentences, laughs at your faults, toasts your accomplishments, and encourages your passions.
To the current PIP Board: Thank you for the zany year of late night meetings, innovative brainstorming, delicious Cupcake Wars, and patient persistence. To the PIP applicants and general membership: You are an incredible group of inspiring individuals with compelling stories and goals; chase your dreams with PIP’s help. To the faculty, staff, and alumni: Your generosity is unmatched this year; you are truly compassionate and represent the spirit of BU Law’s commitment to pro bono and public service work.
Finally, to prospective and admitted students: PIP is one example of BU Law’s many opportunities to diversify your law school experience. I hope, wherever you attend law school, that you also find the opportunities which give meaning to your time during law school. For me, this experience completed me. PIP forced me to stretch myself while evaluate my passions, skills, and dreams. With a purpose, I encourage you to let PIP support you through your three years of law school.