31st annual PILP auction raises more than $20,000 to support public interest law internships

March 05, 2024

Participants raising auction signs for Public Interest Law Project Auction

Quinnipiac School of Law’s Public Interest Law Project (PILP) has reached its goal of raising more than $20,000 on Friday evening to benefit the community during a Barbie-themed auction event.

On March 1, the school’s lobby and ceremonial courtroom were transformed into a Barbie dream landscape with twinkling pink lights, pink streamers and Barbie-inspired activity stops, including a Barbie photo booth, framing the night’s silent and live auction events.

As the School of Law’s largest student-run event, the annual PILP auction raises money to support grants for unpaid law student summer internships at vital nonprofit and government agencies across the country.

The public interest law interns help individuals facing legal issues who would otherwise lack effective representation within the legal system. Each year, PILP auction funds are generously contributed by students, staff, faculty, alumni and School of Law supporters.

School of Law Dean Jennifer Brown said the students who put on and support the annual PILP auction are helping their fellow students defray expenses as they pursue their dedication to public interest law as pro bono interns.

“I think it’s really cool not only that our students go out and work in the community, but their fellow students support them in doing that work,” said Brown.

Last year, PILP auction donations helped to raise more than $17,000 to fund six student grants. This year’s goal was $20,000, said PILP co-president Lauren Boucher, JD ’25.

“We think that all the work that’s being done, especially over the summer, deserves to be appreciated,” said Boucher. “It can be frustrating when you’re getting such an incredible position, but you’re not getting any income, especially if you’re going out of state to do so. So, it’s a nice reward for students to make them feel appreciated and know that their work is valued.”

PILP co-vice president Heather Mansfield, JD ’25, said it’s important to show support for fellow students with a passion for public interest law.

“We want people to feel encouraged and motivated to follow their passion and do something that helps people in the community,” said Mansfield.

Many PILP auction guests arrived for the fun night on the North Haven Campus dressed in pink or other Barbie and Ken inspired ensembles and accessories.

The evening kicked off with raffles and silent auction options which sent bidders past rows of tables filled with enticing gift baskets, entertainment experiences, restaurant gift certificates and countless other goods and services.

Auction items were donated by local businesses, clubs, faculty, students and other individuals.

At 6 p.m., the crowd moved into Barbie’s “Dream Courtroom” for the live auction, where student and faculty auctioneers gaveled in extremely generous bids from an enthusiastic audience.

Some of the evening’s most coveted items were the numerous creative gatherings, events and outings offered by School of Law professors.

The Quinnipiac School of Law community dedicated the 31st annual PILP Auction in memory of Melanie Abbott, an alumna, retired law professor, and PILP founding advisor. Abbott passed away on February 13, 2024.

Abbott retired about 10 years ago and began teaching at Quinnipiac in 1989, said her colleague, School of Law professor Carolyn Kaas.

“We both started teaching here at the same time, and we had lot in common in public interest law,” said Kaas. “Melanie was completely committed to public interest work. She taught many courses, but specifically, poverty law – that was her domain. She helped to start PILP, and I’m sure she was at the very first auction 31 years ago. So this program tonight really feels like it’s in her honor.”

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