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UC Berkeley law students to hold offbeat auction on Friday, Oct. 13, for minority student fellowships
09 Oct 2000

By Janet Gilmore, Media Relations

Berkeley - An unconventional auction will be held this week by University of California, Berkeley, law school students, with bids for items including a sing-a-long with feminist law scholars, haiku poems written by a lecturer, and an afternoon at the racetrack with a former dean.

The annual Berkeley Law Foundation Auction, scheduled for Friday, Oct. 13, at 8 p.m. at UC Berkeley's Pauley Ballroom, will raise funds for underrepresented minority students interested in pursuing public interest work at the law school.

The auction - which has become more popular, and quirkier, since it began five years ago - is expected to draw 800 people. Two years ago, it drew 200 people.

"The student members of the Berkeley Law Foundation consider it crucial that we find creative ways to attract a diverse student body to Boalt Hall and produce lawyers who will serve all of California's communities," said Helen Lennon, a third year law student at UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), co-chair of the event, and a volunteer at the Berkeley Law Foundation.

The foundation was established in 1976 as the nation's first student-run public interest organization. It funds innovative public interest projects and, through grants and fellowships, has helped support projects addressing such issues as affordable housing, domestic violence, gay and lesbian rights, the environment, education, death penalty appeals and immigration and asylum.

Over the years, the auction not only has drawn increasingly larger crowds, but also more professors and students in glittery, flamboyant attire; more offers of unusual gifts and services to the highest bidder; and more aggressive bidding - all in the name of a worthy cause.

Last year, two law students donned feathered boas, sequins, and body glitter, and served as emcees of the event, taking bids for one-of-a-kind items including a tour of infamous Bay Area crime scenes with a Boalt Hall legal scholar.

In addition to Boalt Hall law professors, the auction also attracts donations from law school staff members and students, local businesses, and alumni. According to Lennon, many of the bidders will be law students seeking uncommon experiences with legal luminaries.

This Friday's event begins at 8 p.m. with a silent auction, followed by a dance and, at 11 p.m., a live auction. These events will be held in the Pauley Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union at UC Berkeley.

Donations will go to the Berkeley Law Foundation's Phoenix Fellowship, designed to encourage underrepresented minority students to apply to Boalt Hall and pursue public interest work. The fellowship program is funded entirely by the auction.

"We hope to raise at least $45,000 from this event, every single dollar of which will go directly to students of color to provide urgent legal assistance to underrepresented individuals in our community," said Lennon.

The items to be auctioned on Friday include:

* Lunch with Judge William Fletcher, a former Boalt Hall professor and current member of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

* An original U.S. Supreme Court brief from the landmark case, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, signed by Boalt Hall professor Paul Mishkin, who served as special counsel to the Regents and defended the constitutionality of affirmative action policies in 1978.

* Dinner and margaritas prepared by Pamela Samuelson, who is Boalt Hall's cyberlaw expert and a MacArthur Fellow "genius."

* A sing-a-long with leading feminist scholars, professor Angela Harris and lecturer Nancy Lemon.

* A series of haiku verses composed in honor of the highest bidder. Stephen Rosenbaum, a Boalt Hall lecturer and expert in public interest law, will compose the verses and recite them during a public reading in April, National Poetry Month.

* Dinner with Boalt Hall lecturer Ephraim Margolin, a nationally renowned criminal defense attorney who has represented such clients as John Gotti and Lyle Menendez.

* An afternoon at the race track with Jesse Choper, a former Boalt Hall dean who is an expert on constitutional law and corporations.

* Two CD-ROMs on effectively taking and defending depositions provided by Boalt Hall professor Henry Hecht, a former Watergate prosecutor.