HOPE Brings Back Annual Auction and Raises Money for Public Interest Fellowships

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Elizabeth Honkonen ’98, Daniel Matlow ’00, Joshua Spector ’02, Assistant Dean Marni Lennon and Dean Patricia D. White

After a four-year hiatus, Miami Law’s HOPE Public Interest Resource Center re-instituted its annual live, silent, and online auction to raise funds to support law students working during the summer to ensure access to justice for all. All proceeds raised from the auction will fund Summer Public Interest Fellowships and HOPE Fellowships. These fellowship programs provide stipends and support to law students taking unpaid summer internships at non-profit and governmental agencies locally, nationally and abroad.

Beginning this past summer, law students who are former SPIF and HOPE fellows, members of the Public Interest Leadership Board, and Miami Scholars went out to the community to seek donations for the auction. Led by PILB Fundraising Chair and Miami Scholar Nicole Portnov and PILB Chair and Miami Scholar Sawyeh Esmaili, students successfully secured over 185 donations. From gift cards to local restaurants such as Tap 42, Dr Smood, Lucali and Joe’s Stone Crab, to unique activities with professors such as a Krav Maga class with Professor Franks and an outing to the Everglades with Professor Coker, to stays at hotels, and much more, law students successfully used their negotiation skills to bring in exciting donations.

2L Miami Scholar Josh Gutter secured a number of unique donations from local businesses. “I was so willing to help the HOPE auction because I really wanted to ‘pay it forward.’  I feel so lucky to be here at Miami Law, and asking for donations seemed like a great opportunity to support those students who will come after me,” said Gutter.

Richard Rappaport ’73 and Neda Ghomeshi ’16

HOPE’s online auction kicked off on November 1, 2016, and ran through November 15. The festivities continued at the Law Alumni Holiday Reception on December 13, 2016, at the law firm of Kozyak Tropin Throckmorton, LLP in Coral Gables with a live and silent auction.

Nine law students, including 2L Brittany Thomas, volunteered at the Law Alumni Holiday Reception to help check-in attendees, answer questions, and make sure the event ran smoothly. "The Summer Public Interest Fellowship program provided me with the opportunity to help the underprivileged during the summer of 2016, which is why I decided to volunteer for the HOPE auction. I wanted to give back to the program that provided me with such a great opportunity. Volunteering for the auction allowed me to show potential donors how much the HOPE program can affect a student’s law school experience," said Thomas.

With a combined total of over 200 alumni, friends of HOPE and community partners bidding on auction items and donating funds, the auction raised over $26,000 in revenue. These funds will help ensure that even more law students will be able to afford to take an unpaid internship this summer advocating on behalf of some of the most vulnerable populations-- immigrants, at-risk juveniles, individuals with mental illness, and victims of sexual exploitation.

 “It was wonderful to bring students, faculty, alumni and community members together to reignite the HOPE Auction tradition. We are grateful to all who participated this year and look forward to sending our students to work on critical issues in the public interest, near and far,” said Assistant Dean Marni Lennon, director of the HOPE Public Interest Resource Center.