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SFF Auction Brings in Money to Fund Grants for Public-Interest Students 

SFF Auction Brings in More Than $45,000 to Fund Grants for Public-Interest Students

Cement Blocks Were Smashed. Songs Were Sung. And Dances Were Danced, Often on Table-Tops.


By Katie Vloet
March 20, 2015

It takes a special sort of event for a law professor smashing six cement blocks with his bare hand to rank as only one of the highlights.

Add to the mix a gasp-inspiring surprise auction of the autographs of all nine Supreme Court justices who decided Brown v. Board of Education, and an esteemed bankruptcy-law expert bellowing a karaoke performance of "Sweet Caroline" along with students punching the air at the "bah bah bah" portion, and you'll have some idea of what makes the SFF Auction one of the highlights of the year at Michigan Law.

"It's not like this at other [law schools], let me tell you," auctioneer and Professor Gil Seinfeld told the admitted students in the audience who were on campus for the first of two Preview Weekends.

Indeed. The annual auction is a night of spirited revelry, and it's all for a good cause: SFF, or Student Funded Fellowships, raises money at the live and silent auctions to provide grants to fellow Michigan Law students who plan to work at public-interest jobs during their 1L summers.

In all, SFF raised more than $58,000—$45,000 in the live and silent auctions, and $13,500 in matching donations pledged by the Wein-Hirshon Charitable Foundation. The biggest single money-maker was the surprise auction item, the autographs of all nine Supreme Court justices who decided the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. The autographs, which were donated by David Chambers, the Wade H. McCree Jr. Collegiate Professor of Law Emeritus, brought in a winning bid of $5,000.

"The auction was a huge success," said 3L and co-chair Kate Aufses. "We raised several thousand dollars more than last year, every cent of which will support students who are working in public interest this summer. Michigan Law's commitment to SFF's mission never ceases to amaze me."

Other big earners included:

  • $700 to skydive with Mathias Reimann, the Hessel E. Yntema Professor of Law, who, in the words of auctioneer/Professor Nick Bagley, is "one of the toughest human beings you'll ever meet. You'll go up in the air with a man who will have no sympathy for your fears."
  • $800 to design a sandwich at the famed Ann Arbor deli, Zingerman's.
  • $1,000 for dinner cooked by admissions Dean Sarah Zearfoss.
  • $1,400 for a getaway in the Berkshires, assisted by $500 that Robert Hirshon, the Frank G. Millard Professor from Practice and special counsel on developments in the legal profession, donated to the winners to spend on the vacation.
  • $1,350 for "warrior bootcamp" with Professor Len Niehoff, the aforementioned martial artist. Niehoff brought most of the Honigman Auditorium to their feet to see if he could break all six one-inch-thick cement slabs, a personal record. He did; was there ever any doubt? And his secret, Niehoff said, quoting one of his instructors: "You have to hit those suckers really, really hard."
  • $725 for dinner with Dean Mark West and a faculty member or administrator of the buyer's choice.
  • $1,200 to go sailing with Michael Barr, the Roy F. and Jean Humphrey Proffitt Professor of Law.
  • $850 for trivia with Kyle Logue, a tax law expert and the Wade H. and Dores M. McCree Collegiate Professor of Law. The winners will get to play trivia, and Logue "will do your taxes," said auctioneer Professor Eve Brensike Primus.
  • $1,300 for a night of karaoke with John Pottow, the John Philip Dawson Collegiate Professor of Law and the aforementioned performer of "Sweet Caroline," and Professor Kate Andrias. Start practicing your "bah-bah-bahs," high-bidders.

Learn more about SFF.

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