Auction to Benefit Law Student Fellowships

By Ilene Fleischmann

Release Date: February 16, 2006 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Public Interest Law Program (BPILP) will host its 11th annual auction on Feb. 23 at the Statler Towers, 107 Delaware Ave., Buffalo. The event is the primary fundraiser to provide scholarships allowing University at Buffalo law students to accept unpaid public interest summer positions.

This year's festivities will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the live auction beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available for $35 to the public and $25 for students, and may be purchased in the UB Law School lobby during the month of February.

In 2005, BPILP raised nearly $30,000 to provide 18 summer fellowships.

"Public interest" encompasses many areas of the law, including domestic violence, child advocacy, human rights, poverty law, elder law, environmental law, mental health, and legal assistance to the indigent. While many organizations are in need of legal assistance that law students can offer, they often cannot afford to provide a paycheck.

"We hope our alumni and friends in the legal community will help grant these law students the opportunity to use their expertise to serve the public interest by donating an item for sale, purchasing an advertisement, donating funds for fellowships or simply come out for a fun evening with a good cause," says Lisa Patterson, UB Law School associate dean for career services and advisor to BPILP.

Christina Cassillo, a native of Connecticut and currently a second-year law student at UB received one of last year's fellowships, which helped fund her work at New Haven Legal Assistance serving low income individuals in need of legal counsel in New Haven, Conn.

"BPILP allowed me to gain legal experience last summer when I would not have been able to otherwise. I worked primarily on abuse and neglect cases. The experience was invaluable," says Cassillo.

"Organizations such as New Haven Legal Assistance do not have the funding to pay interns, therefore groups such as BPILP are incredibly important because they allow the student to gain experience while also providing the organization with the staff support they need," she adds.

Christine King, a second-year law student who was the recipient of a fellowship to work at Rochester Legal Aid last summer says, "The organization itself allowed me to meet a lot of people, especially upperclassmen who shared my interest in public interest law, and I was able to make some good friends because of it. Without BPILP, it would be very hard for all of the public interest-minded students to receive information and help with getting started in that field."

Other opportunities BPILP has helped student take advantage of include positions with the Kenya Human Rights Commission; the Erie County District Attorney's Office; the Volunteer Lawyers Project, Inc.; New York State Office of the Attorney General, Medicaid Fraud Division; the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, Capital Post Conviction Unit, and many others.

Items for silent and live auction will include fine art, theater and concert tickets, restaurant gift certificates and jewelry, as well as many other unique items. Auction items and donations can be sent to: Buffalo Public Interest Law Program, University at Buffalo Law School, UB Law Career Services Office, 609 John Lord O'Brian Hall, Buffalo, N.Y. 14260, (716) 645-2056 or e-mail

Auction sponsorship levels begin at $100 and go to $1,000. Sponsors receive tickets, a lobby display and recognition in the auction program. To be a sponsor, call Lisa Patterson at 645-2056.