Shifting Sands: Annual Signature Event to see several changes

By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

Organizers of the 2021 Signature Event, the chief fund-raiser for the Oakland County Bar Foundation, are displaying a heightened level of flexibility as they map plans for this year’s get-together, which has been pushed back to the autumn due to the lingering effects of the pandemic.

Traditionally scheduled each spring, the Signature Event has been rescheduled for Thursday, Sept. 23 from 6:30-9 p.m., according to Katie Tillinger, deputy director of Membership and Foundation for the Oakland County Bar Association.

“This move will allow us to accommodate more people, which means we are now able to sell a limited number of tickets for the event,” Tillinger wrote in a letter to supporters of the Foundation. “We are very excited to open this event up to more people.”

In an additional change, Orchard Lake Country Club will host this year’s event, Tillinger said, noting that “currently, complimentary and paid tickets are only available to sponsors,” but “we will open up any unsold tickets to everybody on July 29.”

The aftershocks from the pandemic, of course, continue to cast a cloud over fund-raising events for all nonprofit organizations, as organizers grapple with the need to reset expectations even as the demand for legal aid services increases.

The conundrum remains as perplexing today in a much-improved Michigan economy, where those charged with making the calls and pressing the flesh in search of donations are constantly challenged to surpass the amount of money raised in previous years.

“Access to legal aid and education is more important now than ever,” said Elizabeth Luchenbach and Charles Bullock, co-chairs of the 2021 Signature Event.

In the spring of 2019, the last time the Signature Event took place as normal, the OCBF raised more than $238,000 to support local legal aid and education programs. Since 2002, the Foundation has contributed more than $2.6 million to various nonprofits. Proceeds from past event have assisted the important work of the Family Law Assistance Project, the University of Detroit Mercy Immigration Law Clinic, the Michigan Center for Civic Education Through Law, the Youth Law Conference, and Senior Law Day, among other worthwhile programs.

The OCBF focuses on providing access to justice by funding legal aid and education programs through the generous support of donors and volunteers. Founded in 1999, the Bar Foundation has grown to become a leader and trendsetter for law-based foundations nationally.

Those interested in sponsoring this year’s Signature Event can contact Katie Tillinger at (248) 334-3400 or by e-mail at

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