PILA 2018: Welcome to the Wizarding World of Public Interest

Lena Welch ‘20
New Media Editor

UVA Law’s annual PILA Auction has undergone a makeover that would make even Neville Longbottom jealous. The Live Auction will take place Thursday, November 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Caplin Pavilion, and the Silent Auction at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel will be Saturday, November 10 from 9 p.m. to midnight. Not only is the PILA Auction a highlight of students’ social calendars, it is the main fundraiser for the guaranteed funding of students participating in public interest summer internships. 

“The reason for having the PILA Auction is to raise money to fund the grants that are given to 1Ls and 2Ls who summer in the public sector and have met the prerequisites for the grant,” Auction Director Shivani Patel ’19 said. “Taking into account faculty and student feedback, we figured that the best way to increase the efficacy of the Auction was to separate the Live Auction from the Student Silent Auction, enabling greater faculty and student involvement. Since we’re holding the Live Auction in Caplin Pavilion during the week, it’s easily accessible to everyone, and bidding on items will be made easier as noise and lighting will not be an issue. Furthermore, we plan on publishing the Auction Program in advance of the Live Auction and will indicate the times that certain items will be auction[ed] off so students and faculty can filter in and out.” 

This makeover is an effort to allow law students, who tend to work with limited individual budgets, to coordinate as groups for bids on high desired items as well as to open the Auction up to faculty. The Live Auction will retain the big-ticket items such as Dean Risa Goluboff and Professor Richard Schragger’s ice cream social, while the Silent Auction will feature donations from local businesses as well as student donations. Patel added that surprises may be in store at the Live Auction. 

“Professors Mitchell and Ferzan are our hosts for the Live Auction, meaning they will have to share the stage, so I’d say expect the unexpected,” said Patel. Professor Mitchell has suggested that he might have a surprise planned that goes beyond the orange suit he donned at the auction a few years ago, so we’ll see.” 

Additionally, the live auction will feature the chance to pie a professor in the face. As part of this year’s PILA Week––which also features the Women in Public Service event sponsored by Virginia Law Women on Wednesday, November 7––students will be able to bid for the opportunity to pie their favorite, or least favorite, professor.  

“We hope that watching a professor get pied in the face at some point during the Live Auction will also attract students and other faculty to the event,” Patel said. 

The separation of the live auction and silent auction is not the only exciting announcement about this year’s PILA Auction. The theme: Yule Ball. Break out your cloaks and wands, Potterheads! Represent your house as you aim to raise money for your classmates who intern at public interest organizations. Accio a good time, am I right? 

“We have promotional Auction videos coming out soon, which, in my opinion, are really awesome, so look out for those!” Patel said. “Some of them will also be showcasing some of the cool items we have received as donations this year.” 

Ticket sales will begin Wednesday, October 31 in Hunton & Williams Hall and run through Wednesday, November 7, with price increases as the PILA Auction nears. According to Patel, “It’ll be a magical night that allows you to forget your muggle status for the evening.”