The Annual PIP Auction

This past Thursday, the Public Interest Project (PIP) hosted its annual gala and auction. I didn’t make it to the event during my 1L year, but after hearing rave reviews, I made sure to get to the student union ballroom this year to see what it was all about.

Over the course of the last several weeks, I had been in the student organization room while the PIP members spent their afternoons collecting auction items for the auction and painstakingly cataloging them, so I knew a lot of work had gone into the event. The hard work paid off. Not only was there a wide range of impressive auction items, but there was also a remarkable lineup of honorees who were recognized for their contribution to the public interest. It was fascinating to hear Nina Totenberg from NPR dish on her experiences covering the Supreme Court, and the alumni who were honored provided powerful reminders of the opportunities and responsibilities that come with a law degree.

Of course, the focus of the evening was on the public interest applicants themselves; the law students who will dedicate their summers to jobs that pay little to nothing but provide valuable services to the community at large. By raising money through the auction, the Public Interest Project helps subsidize these students through the summer months.

I don’t know what the grand total was for the night, but judging from the live auction, it seemed like a pretty good night for PIP. Professors Volk and Rossman provided some expert auctioneering, rapidly calling off rising bids for weekend retreats, signed memorabilia, and other goodies. What might have been my favorite part of the evening was the fact that students were enthusiastically outbidding each other for auction items like a professor’s old bike, dinners hosted by professors, and even a moonshine-making experience hosted by a professor and his family.

Throughout the year, there are plenty of opportunities to get together with other students or alumni or faculty members with the various bar reviews or networking events or mixers that take place. But this past Thursday stood out among those events. At the PIP auction, any gradient or disparity in work experience or life experience was removed, and all of us were sitting side by side to cheer on and support our classmates who are doing big things this summer and beyond. The room had a celebratory feeling, as if we were reveling in the possibility of what we could do as a community when we put our minds to it.

While this was my first PIP auction, it is good to know that next year does not have to be my last. A solid showing from alumni around Boston served as a reminder that support for PIP does not end at the doors of the law school, and I am looking forward to showing my support next year.

Plus I have my eye on the Dean’s parking spot during the next live auction…

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