Public Service Auction Shatters Record, Expected to Top $70,000

November 16, 2011

The Public Interest Law Association's annual auction and dance netted more than $67,000 for public service grants on Friday, shattering the old fundraising record, and a second online auction is expected to bring the total to $70,000, student organizers said.

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Students bid on a date with second-year law student Billy Easley. (Photos provided by the Public Interest Law Association)

"We are extremely pleased with this fundraising total, which is the result of a true team effort," said auction director Mike Moskowitz, a third-year law student. "The more money raised by PILA, the more public service grants that go to 1L and 2L students."

The PILA auction had never raised more than $60,000 after expenses before, but organizers were determined to make structural changes to maximize revenue this year, Moskowitz said. This year's total surpassed the highest known record of $59,000 in 2007.

Moskowitz credited the auction organizers' tight control on expenses, the creation of an online auction in the lead-up to the live auction, the way the donations were packaged together and the record number of student, firm, faculty and BarBri donations.

The online silent auction in the lead-up to the live event "gave people an opportunity to research items," PILA President Ashley Matthews said. I think the fact that it was on a computer helped people to aggressively bid on items." The online auction set opening bid amounts for Friday's event. The live auction's big-ticket items included Professor Anne Coughlin 's graduation dinner for eight students and their guests, which sold for $1,900, and a weeklong vacation in a mountain cabin in Shaver Lake, Calif., won for $1,550. A Sunday brunch with Professors Frederick Schauer and Bobbie Spellman sold for $800.

Auctioneers Anne Coughlin and John Setear (in audience) helped drive up bid amounts.

Coughlin hosted the live auction and dance, which had an "Ocean's 11" theme, with Professor John Setear, who bought the signed Tom Brady football himself for $300. "Professors Setear and Coughlin were really great and funny, and helped drive the bidding up," Matthews said. "We're thrilled that the Law School community has shown us so much support." Near the end of the school year, donations to PILA are augmented by a substantial donation from the Law School Foundation. Last spring, PILA distributed $378,000 to 81 first- and second-year students working in public service positions. (More) First-year recipients receive $3,500 and second-years receive $6,000. Because of the record number of donations, PILA organizers are planning a second online auction. One of the most-sought-after prizes likely will be a holiday dinner hosted by Coughlin, Moskowitz said, in light of the demand for the professor's graduation dinner.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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