Today, the Public Interest Auction will help raise money for students who will spend their summers working in a public interest job. The Auction uses both a live and silent sale to induce students, professors and administrators to exchange their money for novel items or events, which in the past have included Prof. Charles Ogletree’s sweet potato pies or a poker night or two with Dean Elena Kagan. The Auction is run by law students who are compensated for their time only through the satisfaction of knowing they are helping students work in a non-law firm setting for the summer. These students should be commended for the time they have committed and for also making the event an enjoyable experience.
For the Auction to work, however, and this should not be a surprise, students need to show up to put in their bids. The beauty of the Auction is that it allows students with a wide range of spending power to acquire an item or service while contributing to public interest work. For example, the price of live auction items may seem intimidating to students who must live on a student budget (the Dean poker nights took in over $1,000 last year). But the genius of the silent auction is that it includes items that can easily be acquired for under $100. Students can even pool their money to lower their individual cost, which is especially effective for such items as dinner with a professor.
Besides the acquisition of something novel, however, students should remember that the Auction allows hundreds of students to spend their summers with employers that are many times not financially able to hire interns. As students who have worked for such employers know, these employers greatly value the service they are provided by law students, especially in settings where a law student can bring his or her education and experience to the work setting. Thus, the good that flows from the Auction reaches not only law students who can continue to pursue their public interest goals, but employers that benefit through the hard work and added perspective of these students.
All students are encouraged to attend the Auction and to dig into their pockets, no matter what their depth.