Law School Conducts Public-Interest Benefit

Harvard Law School (HLS) paraded its wares last night at an auction to help financially support students involved in public-service work this summer.

The auction, HLS's fourth annual one, is run by first-year law students in order to raise funding for public-service grants, worth $2,500, which are offered by the school's Public Interest Advisory Office (PIAO).

Among the nearly 500 items donated by students, staff and faculty members were a small part in a film to be shot in Puerto Rico and a 10-day vacation in Florida.

Alexa Shabecoff, a staff member in the PIAO, said there is not enough funding for grants even though more than 130 are handed out each year.

"There are more people on the waiting list this year than last year, and I think that some people will have to remain there," Shabecoff said.


Citing the inevitable inexperience of the first-year organizers, the event's media director said that the auction was challenging to put together.

"We don't quite know what we are doing, but we'll find out what happens when it happens," first-year law student Nicklas Akers said.

The auctions have been doing very well.

It raised $24,000 the first time it was held and has become more successful each year. Last year, the proceeds totaled more than $55,000.

The auction's organizers were hopeful that this year's proceeds would at least reach that number. Whatever the final tally, it will be matched by Law School Dean Robert C. Clark out of the school's budget.

In past years, the auction has helped students work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).

Work in the public-service sector is particularly high among first-year students, said a past recipient of the award.

"The second summer of law school generally requires you to work in a firm, but the first summer allows you to work outside of the traditional environment," said second-year law student Jeremy Bash.

Citing the high cost of tuition, Bash said that the grants are necessary for many students to earn living expenses.

"Without the grant from the public-interest auction, I doubt that I would have been able to work for a government organization," he said.

The auction was divided into two parts, with the second half led by Professor of Law Charles J. Ogletree and Assistant Professor of Law Carol Steiker.

Ogletree also donated four home-made sweet potato pies