PUBLISHED:March 02, 2007

PILF Auction and Gala

By: Katie Riera

The Chronicle, Feb. 26, 2007

The Public Interest Law Foundation hosted its 11th annual Auction and Gala in style Saturday night at the Nasher Museum of Art.

Raising approximately $74,000 and surpassing last year's total by $8,000, the Auction and Gala also lived up to its reputation as one of the main social events of the year at Duke's School of Law.

More than 550 students, faculty, alumni, staff and family members socialized and enjoyed food and drink amid the pleasant chatter and classy atmosphere of the evening.

"We like to think of it as one of the premier law school events," said PILF Co-Chair and law school student Julia Kohen. "It's also a great time for alumni, faculty and students and even administrators and staff to be all in the same place outside the law school-to kind of mingle and brush elbows and bid on the same items or bid each other up on the same items."

All proceeds from the event went directly to PILF-a nonprofit student organization that funds summer fellowships for every eligible law student working at unpaid public interest jobs. This year, PILF also extended its support to graduating students entering into public interest careers with grants for bar expenses.

The charitable night was split between a silent and live auction with a wide variety of donated items up for grabs.

Silent auction items ranged from lunch with President Richard Brodhead to Poker Night with law professors Barak Richman and Jonathan Wiener to knitting lessons from a law student, which went for $320, $400 and $95, respectively.

Sold for $3,750, a five-night stay in Jackson Hole, Wyo., was the live auction's most expensive item, while World Series tickets and a pass to the law school parking lot followed at $2,325 and $1,900, respectively.

Other unique entries included exemption from the graduate students' annual weekend-long campout for basketball tickets as well as What Not to Wear: Duke Law Edition-two law students' take on the popular television show.

Attendees could also place bids on tickets to the Oprah Winfrey Show or vie for the moving services of seven second-year law students armed with "their muscles and a truck."

Although PILF also receives direct contributions and holds other fundraisers, the Auction and Gala accounts for more than two-thirds of its annual funds.

"This is our biggest fundraiser of the year," said PILF co-chair and law student Steven Schindler. "The dean is very supportive, alumni have given very generously, students give a number of gifts. There's a lot of creativity in the kinds of donations that we get-we've just built a wonderful event."

Alumni, faculty, students and local businesses accounted for the bulk of donations to the auction, Kohen said. More than 30 faculty and staff donated items to the silent auction, which ranged from arts and crafts and baked goods to tickets to sporting events.

Faculty also offered their time to interact with students through bowling, movie nights, lunches and dinners, and "Shotguns and Beer at the Durham Country Wildlife Club."

The only three faculty-sponsored donations featured in the live auction were dinners with incoming Law School Dean David Levi, law professors Erwin Chemerinsky and Catherine Fisk and law professors James and Dorianne Coleman.

"It's an event that keeps getting bigger every year, which is a testament to both the commitment of the students and the faculty to PILF and also just an endorsement of what a great job the students do every year putting this together," said Katharine Bartlett, dean of the law school.

Reprinted with permission of The Chronicle (c) 2007 All rights reserved.