Login | March 20, 2018

Akron Law to host annual public interest auction

The public interest auction takes place on April 6 at the newly renovated C. Blake McDowell Law Center. (Photo courtesy of The University of Akron School of Law).

Legal News Reporter

Published: March 7, 2018

From Indians tickets to a round of golf with The University of Akron President Matthew Wilson—those are a few of the items up for grabs at this year’s public interest auction taking place at The University of Akron School of Law in April.

Organized by the Akron Law Student Bar Association, the annual event seeks to raise money for the public interest fellowship fund, which provides stipends to law students doing internships in public interest organizations.

“Typically those internships are unpaid, which can be a hardship for some students who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Ryan Robinson, a 3L at Akron Law and executive treasurer of the Student Bar Association.

“The money we raise at the auction goes into a fellowship fund, which is then given to students who apply for public interest internships during the summer based on each student’s needs,” said Robinson, one of the organizers of the event.

Last year’s auction raised about $7,000, but Robinson said this year the bar association is aiming to take in over $9,000.

“That would be a record in the history of the auction,” said Robinson.

The April 6 event not only gives those who attend a chance to bid on dozens of items, it also includes a buffet, cash bar, live music, trivia and bingo.

While the auction has taken place for many years, Robinson said it’s the first time it has ever been held at the law school.

“We chose to do it at the law school this year because we have a brand new building to showcase,” he said. “During the event, there will be tours of the building for anyone who has not seen it yet.”

Akron Law 2L Samantha Nagy is working with Robinson to come up with as many unique auction items as possible.

“Last year, I helped the bar association on the day of the auction,” said Nagy, a Student Bar Association senator. “This year I wanted to be one of the organizers.

“In the past many of our auction items have come from the Akron area,” she said. “I am reaching out to alumni and other donors in different states.

“I was lucky enough to find a public interest internship that paid minimum wage, but paid public interest jobs are rare,” said Nagy.

The number of students who apply for stipends varies each year. Nagy said in order to qualify for a stipend the student must attend the auction.

“The auction is a lot of fun and it can be a good networking opportunity as well since many alumni turn out,” said Nagy. “Last year our biggest ticket item was a Cavs Jersey signed by J.R. Smith.”

Wilson said he’s been involved in the auction since 2014 when he started as dean of The University of Akron School of Law.

“When I was associate dean at the University of Wyoming College of Law, we held a similar event,” said Wilson. “When I started at Akron Law I asked students what they thought about offering a round of golf for three with me. No one had done that at Akron Law.

“The golf package has become my yearly tradition and I continue to offer it as president.

“I take three people to a golf course in Hudson at Ellsworth Meadows Golf Club, typically the person who bids and two friends. We play a round of golf and I buy them lunch.

“Anyone can bid on it, including alumni, but for the last several years it’s gone to students. It typically raises a couple hundred dollars.”

Akron Law Dean Christopher J. Peters said he would be donating an Indians v. Tigers game to the auction.

“The game will take place during the summer and there will be tickets for four people, plus myself and my wife Trish,” said Peters. “The Detroit Tigers are my home team and I will be rooting for them, but I won’t be surprised if the Indians score a win instead. That will make Trish happy. She’s an Indians fan.

“The trip will include transportation, hot dogs, nachos and a reasonable amount of beverages, adult or soft drinks,” he said. “This is the first year I will be participating in the Akron Law auction, but when I was at the University of Baltimore School of Law, they held a similar function and I always donated a ball game.”

Peters said it’s important to support law students who are interested in exploring the field of public interest.

“Many of the students who do the internships want to go into the area when they graduate and are seeking experience to add to their resumes,” Peters said. “Others may not be planning to work in the area, but are using the internship as a way to give back to the community and they deserve assistance as well.”

According to Alisa Benedict O’Brien, assistant dean for career services and strategic initiatives at Akron Law, 20 percent of those who graduated in 2016 secured public interest jobs.

The bulk of those graduates (15.2 percent) were employed as prosecutors/public defenders and in other state and local government positions, while 4.8 percent took jobs with legal aid and other community organizations.

“Hopefully the money we raise will facilitate more law students engaging in public interest or public service work as a career choice,” said Wilson.

The April 6 public interest auction will run from 4 to 9 p.m. at the C. Blake McDowell Law Center.

“We picked that day because the Akron Law Review is hosting a CLE conference on federal civil discovery the same day, so we are hoping to attract some of those participants,” said Robinson.

“There will be a joint ticket option.”

For those interested in attending the auction, the general admission price is $20 and students pay $10. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, email srn16@zips.uakron.edu.