February 2009 - Posts
The Law School recently played host to one of its more
unique community events when The Initiative for Public Interest Law at Yale
held its annual public interest auction.
The public interest auction is one of several fundraisers conducted during
the year by The Initiative, which uses the proceeds to fund public interest
work around the globe.
The auction relies on goods and services donated by BAR/BRI
(a bar prep company), law firms, the New Haven community, and YLS students, faculty,
and staff. Items are first offered in a
silent auction. If you missed the
announcements, you'll know the auction has begun when a quarter of the main
hallway is lined with tables full of bidding sheets. Items with bids over $100 are then moved to
the live auction, held during our Friday happy hour in the Dining Hall. There are always a few items which inspire
heated bidding wars, so the event is entertaining for participants and
Some of this
year's more unique items on the auction block included:
- a day sail on Long Island Sound for five people on a 27
- a dinner party for six, cooked by a former professional
- poker lessons from the winner of the 2008 World Series of
- an original three-minute play on a theme of the winner's
- lunch with two New York Times legal reporters;
- a guided sea-kayaking excursion;
- four box seats to a Yankees game;
- poker night for five at the home of Professors Chua and
- Italian feast for six at Professor Calabresi's farm;
- two Scrabble games with Professor Ellickson; and
- a beer tasting at the home of Professor Meares with
award-winning theater writer and director Tina Landau.
The Initiative is a student organization which provides
start-up funds to innovative non-profit projects that may have difficulty
obtaining money from more traditional sources due to the subject matter or
approach taken by the project.
Non-profit projects submit grant proposals to The Initiative, which then
chooses projects based on a multi-round selection process. One-year grants of up to $30,000 are then
distributed to the selected projects. Past
grant recipients include projects that aid female asylum seekers who are
escaping gender-based violence and torture; develop and bring impact litigation
to combat source-of-income discrimination in Maryland's housing market; provide
legal services to NYC's growing elderly LGBT
population; and develop and implement curricula and advocacy materials on
patient confidentiality for use by health care professionals in Kenya,
Ethiopia, and Malawi.
You may worry that the right side of your brain will feel neglected in law school as the left side busily tries to process court opinion after court opinion. For a start, you can always add a class on law and literature, but if your creative side still craves more nourishment, walk over to the Audubon Arts District.
The Audubon Arts District is my favorite corner of New Haven. Located off of Whitney Avenue, a few blocks from the Law School, Audubon Street is a great place to spend a weekend afternoon. Whether studying for your torts final in Koffee (www.koffeekoffee.com), a cozy coffee house with a great room full of windows overlooking a small park, or browsing through the sheet music at The Foundry (http://www.foundrymusicco.com/index.shtm), the Audubon Arts District has something to offer everyone.
I really grew to appreciate Audubon Street last year when I took a few art classes at the Creative Arts Workshop (www.creativeartsworkshop.org/), a local gallery and center for arts education. Another class is at the top of my list of New Year's resolutions!
The Creative Arts Workshop offers classes from painting and drawing, to photography and pottery. It is a casual place to brush up on an art skill from college or delve into something new. More than 300 courses are offered by the Workshop each year, including evening and weekend courses for those of us who are busy during the day. Believe it or not, even busy graduate students can spare a few hours out of their week for some creative expression, and there were always a few in class. I enrolled in a drawing class to brush up, and then moved on to a few painting classes. I even attempted a portraiture painting class, which was not easy!
If creating art is not up your alley, you might still like to visit the Workshop's two exhibition rooms to view regional and national exhibitions and exhibitions by CAW faculty and students. You can also head down the street to the Arts Council of Greater New Haven (http://www.newhavenarts.org/) for a visit to the Small Space Gallery featuring regional artists. While you are there, pick up a calendar of arts events in the New Haven area. To continue your gallery tour, walk a block over to Trumbull Street for a visit to the John Slade Ely House (www.elyhouse.org) and view the exhibitions of contemporary regional artists.
On the other side of the Creative Arts Workshop, you will find the Neighborhood Music School, one of the 10 largest community art schools in the country. If you were one of those kids who quit playing the piano around the age of 13 and now you find you would love to get back to it, or if you are looking to join a local jazz ensemble or chamber choir, the Neighborhood Music School (http://www.nmsmusicschool.org/index.html) might offer just what you are looking for. In addition to a wide variety of music and dance classes for children, NMS offers adult classes in everything from beginning piano to jazz improvisation, drama and dance classes.
Audubon Street is also home to the New Haven ballet studios (www.newhavenballet.org) and the ACES Educational Center for the Arts (www.aces.org), a public arts magnet high school, with its Arts Hall and Little Theater performance spaces.
So it's that time of year when I casually troll through some of the discussion boards out there, just to see what you guys are chatting about. I'm usually amused by some of the "facts" circulating out there -- "Yale has already admitted 80% of its class!!!" "There hasn't been anyone admitted since Dec. 23!!" "Yale is only accepting math majors who play intramural softball!!"-- as though LSN is the representative universe of all of our admits (it is not). Please do not fret. We have not filled our class (or come close to it) and we are admitting students weekly. I am hoping that this assurance will stop a decidely unamusing trend that seems to have begun earlier than usual this year: calling the Admissions Office, or me personally, to find out the status of your application. I feel like it's my duty, at this point, to step in and let you know: DON'T DO IT. This is an example of what those of us from the previous SNL generation would refer to as Bad Idea Jeans, and I've decided to make B.I.J. a regular column in this blog to help guide applicants through proper admissions etiquette.
Before you read further, please repeat after me: "My application is under active review and Yale will notify me as soon as there is a final decision." Again. Good. Now you can keep going.
Full disclosure: I am 5 months pregnant, which means I am fat, exhausted, and pretty cranky most of the time. That's reason numero uno for not calling to ask about your status. But there are other reasons as well. First, calling about your status tells me that you are either not a regular reader of 203 or don't read the blog very carefully -- for if you had, you would know from previous posts that we send out decisions much later than most schools. Second, your call tells me that you are unaware of the fact that there are roughly 2,000 other people in your same position, but who are waiting patiently in line to hear from us. "I've heard from some other schools, and it would really help me in the planning process if I could know where I stand with Yale." We know. (P.S. -- telling a pregnant woman that you need predictability is more like a bad idea tuxedo.) Finally, I generally have a meeting, a food craving, or a bathroom run every 30 minutes or so, so my stretches of uninterrupted time are precious to me. If you are calling to find out your status, there had better be a VERY good reason.
What might such a reason look like? Oh, I don't know. I can see an appropriate phone call going something like this:
Me: "Hello, this is Asha."
Caller: "Please hold for the President."
Me: "Uh, OK."
2 minutes of The Pointer Sisters, in musak.
The President: "Hello Asha. This is the President. I'm calling to find out about the status of [your name]'s application. I have just offered [your name] a sensitive position in my cabinet, but s/he tells me that s/he cannot commit until there is a final decision from Yale."
At this point, I would have to explain awkwardly to the President that for privacy reasons, I can neither confirm nor deny that such an applicant has applied to Yale, but if that person would like to call me directly, I would be glad to speak with him/her. You could then very legitimately call me and ask about your status. My answer would still be (repeat after me), "Your application is under active review and we will notify you as soon as we have a final decision." But at least I wouldn't be P.O.'d at you. In fact, I might think you're kinda cool.
So that is my B.I.J. lesson for the day. Please be patient. We are working very hard to read your applications thoroughly and we promise to get you an answer as soon as we can. OK, gotta run -- I'm about to eat this keyboard!
Two weeks ago we were pleased to welcome back one of our graduates, Sheila Hayre '02, as the Law School's new Public Interest Advisor. In her new position, Sheila will focus on assisting YLS students and alumni in applying for public interest fellowships. Additionally, she will provide counseling to students interested in public interest careers.
Sheila joins us from New Haven Legal Assistance (NHLA) where she has practiced since 2004. At NHLA Sheila's work in family and immigration law focused on the neediest, particularly women who were victims of spousal abuse, and undocumented immigrants. She was among the first legal services attorneys in Connecticut to pursue visa status adjustments for battered spouses, and she has recently filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of victims of trafficking and employer abuse.
The position of Public Interest Advisor is one of the four improvements to public interest support unveiled by Dean Koh last April. In addition to a dedicated public interest counselor, Dean Koh doubled the number of public interest fellowships available to graduates, announced an increase in funding for summer public interest opportunities, and made major changes to our loan repayment assistance program, COAP (more on this in a future post).
Yale Law School has a history rich in the tradition of public service, from graduates who have worked in the highest levels of government, to other pioneers who established or led public interest organizations. These changes announced last April serve to further strengthen the Law School's already deep commitment to supporting our current students and graduates as they forge their unique paths in public service.