Thanks to a stipend from the Public Interest Legal Foundation, Guerline Jean ’19 spent last summer as an intern in the Office of the Public Defender in Middlesex County, conducting research, drafting briefs, and observing court cases.
“I had it in my head that I might have wanted to become a public defender or do criminal defense work and working at the Middlesex County office just solidified that for me,” said Jean. He credited the stipend for allowing him to participate in the internship, “I was able to work at the office full time and fully immerse myself in the work, without having to worry about how I would afford to pay bills or put gas in the car to get to the office.”
Each year the Rutgers Law School Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) and the Public Interest Law Student Association (PILSA) hosts an auction to raise stipend money for law students to work unpaid summer internships doing public interest legal work.
This year’s auction is taking place March 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the lower atrium of the Center for Law and Justice at 123 Washington St. It will feature an open bar, dinner, dessert, and opportunity to take part in a silent and live auction and raffle. Traditionally, faculty and staff members have donated items for auction. This year’s items include a sunset sail on the Hudson River, a bicycle trip in the Hamptons, and a tour of the United Nations.
The cost to attend is $15 for students and $25 general admissions. Tickets can be purchased through the auction ticket link.
This year, PILF will be honoring Co-Dean Ronald Chen ’83 for his dedication to the public interest legal field and to his alma mater, Rutgers Law School. Dean Chen was the first Public Advocate of New Jersey and new serves as a General Counsel of the ACLU-NJ. Besides serving as Co-Dean, he has been an active educator, worked in the Constitutional Law Clinic and has been a champion of the Minority Student Program, said the auction organizers.
PILF stipends have enabled students to work at a variety of organizations across the country, including the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Fair Share Housing Center, LAMBDA Legal, and the White House Counsel on Environmental Quality.
A PILF summer stipend also helped Jaynor Diaz ’19, who worked with the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation in New York City. He worked with clients, translating for them and their attorneys, conducting research and doing writing assignments. “This summer position was extremely meaningful to me as it helped me realize that I want to housing law,” he said. “The PILF money was vital to making sure this summer was possible for me. It helped cover my travel expenses. . . The money allowed me to work at a very rewarding organization and to focus my efforts into doing my best at the internship.”
This year’s auction organizer, Sierra Chandler ‘19 said, “The PILF grant is often the difference between working for a paycheck or working for a passion among young law students looking to build public interest-focused careers. By donating to PILF, providing items for the auction, or simply showing up on March 1, you are investing in the next generation of world-changers. Sending students off to do good work worth doing reconfirms Rutgers’ reputation as the People's Electric Law School.”
Contributions are still being accepted at this year’s event. PILF is a 501(c)(3) organization and all donations made to PILF are tax deductible. To contribute, email: Rutgers.firstname.lastname@example.org