Voice for Justice auction to be held Saturday Funds raised support Public Interest Law Fellowships

By Steve Thorpe

Legal News

This year's Voice for Justice Auction on Saturday will raise money to support Public Interest Law Fellowships offered by University of Detroit Mercy Law School. Bidders will raise their hands to indicate interest in the goods and services being auctioned.

Diana Ray, third year law student at the school, would like to raise her hand and offer praise for the program and the people who support it. She was one of the fellows in the 2011 program.

"It's the most rewarding experience I've ever had," she said. "The people you help don't expect anything. You do the smallest thing for them and they are so grateful. What you don't always know when you're in law school is that people are afraid of the legal system. Some have been victims of the legal system before. You file a motion for them -- something so easy for you -- and it can have a huge impact on their life."

Students who receive Public Interest Law Fellowships serve eight weeks as summer interns for non-profit organizations that assist poor, disadvantaged, marginalized or under-represented citizens. Fellows receive $4500 for their work and may receive additional funding for living expenses. Since 2003, the Voice for Justice Fellowship Program has funded more than 70 law students to serve locally and throughout the world at organizations such as the Salvation Army, Innocence Project of Florida, Michigan Department of Civil Rights, Freedom House, Chaldean Federation of America, Wayne County Neighborhood Legal Services, State Appellate Defenders Office, Archdiocese of Detroit, and United Community Housing Coalition.

Fellows are selected based on a record of academic achievement as well as a demonstration of commitment to public service. Ray, for example, had participated in another facet of the program already.

"I was interested in Public Interest my first year and I worked at a public defender's office in Colorado," Ray said. "My second year I wanted to continue with Public Interest and I saw that I could apply for this fellowship program. I thought it was pretty cool that I could get a grant from the school for my tuition. That gave me an opportunity to work longer in Public Interest in the community - basically full-time - instead of what I did the summer before, which was do it part-time and have a part-time job."

Students interested in Fellowships are encouraged to contact members of the Voice for Justice Committee.

The 2012 auction will feature goods and services as diverse as event tickets, sports memorabilia, electronics and gift baskets. Some of the more exotic offerings include and Kentucky Derby package, a trip to Little Palm Island, the opportunity to prepare a meal for six guests with the chef of Opus One and a round of golf followed by lunch with Dean Lloyd Semple.

Published: Fri, Apr 13, 2012

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