Equal Justice Foundation Hosts 22nd Annual Public Interest Auction to Fund Student Scholarships
On March 24, the American University Washington College of Law Equal Justice Foundation (EJF), a nonprofit student-run organization established in 1989, hosted its annual Public Interest Auction to help raise funds to award scholarships to promote public interest law and further student interest in the field. These scholarships are given to AUWCL students who have obtained unpaid summer positions with public interest organizations domestically and abroad. EJF enables the law school’s students to gain valuable experience in the public interest sector, while providing critical services to underrepresented members of our communities.
The majority of EJF's outside funding is raised at the annual auction, where goods and services donated by AUWCL students, faculty, and staff, as well as local businesses, help generate the funds to provide opportunities to further students’ legal studies. Since the summer of 1993, when AUWCL first awarded five students EJF fellowships, EJF has awarded over 785 students fellowships, totaling $2,799,000.
The 22nd annual auction was the last one during Claudio Grossman’s tenure as a dean of the law school. During intermission, co-chairs of the Equal Justice Foundation Christy Moehrle, Kristin Donovan, and Liz Leman honored Dean Grossman for his commitment to public service and presented him with a gift, stating that while they were saddened by his departure, they know that his passion for public service will continue to inspire the law school as a whole.
The EJF also honored alumnae Whitney Louchheim ’05 and Penelope Spain ’05, co-founders of Open City Advocates. Founded in 2005, Open City Advocates provides crucial legal representation to area youth when they are most vulnerable.The organization utilizes a highly effective delinquency intervention strategy for improving juvenile legal defense -- boasting an impressive 97% rate of continued education among youth active in the program. Over the past 10 years, their team has successfully stewarded $3 million to support many of the District’s most disconnected youth and families.
Recent EJF donations have helped fund students who have advocated for disability rights in New York City, provided legal services to women in Bosnia, promoted human rights in Nigeria, and campaigned against domestic violence in Washington, D.C.
Last year, Stephanie Poucher ’16, who currently serves as the editor-in-chief for the American University Law Review, was fortunate to receive an EJF scholarship, which allowed her to work with the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights (LCCR) in New Orleans, La. The Center works to defend youth in the juvenile justice system, build opportunities to keep communities safe, and help transform juvenile justice through advocacy and education.
“This past summer while working with the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights, I improved and expanded my legal research and writing skills by drafting various legal memoranda and successful motions to suppress,” Poucher said. “Because of motions I wrote, the New Orleans district attorney's office dropped its charges in two cases. Without my EJF stipend, I would not have been able to accept my unpaid position with LCCR. I am very grateful for the opportunities EJF has provided me.”
This year’s auction featured carnival games, a pie-your-professor event, a performance by the Law Revue, and guest auctioneer Armando Trull, senior reporter at WAMU 88.5, D.C.’s NPR affiliate station.