Perhaps the biggest prize at BC Law’s Public Interest Law Foundation auction March 31 was the appearance of Marilyn Mosby ’05, the state’s attorney for Baltimore, Maryland, who put in a strong bid for lawyers as social justice advocates. She was the keynote speaker at the annual event, which was held at Morgan Lewis in downtown Boston.
Mosby, who is perhaps best known for her involvement in the Freddie Gray police brutality case, said that throughout her career she “had to channel my confidence, deflect the negativity of ageism, sexism, and racism, and ultimately decide that as a wife and a mother raising two little girls in the heart of West Baltimore—a woman of faith and a former prosecutor with six years of prosecutorial experience and overall 80 percent conviction rate—that I not only possessed the vision but also the passion and foresight to reform the criminal justice system.”
Professor Sharon Beckman, who taught Mosby when she was a student at BC Law and introduced her at the auction, lauded Mosby’s strong work ethic—a work ethic that shone through as Mosby recounted stories of how often she had been told she had to wait her turn, and that she wasn’t ready to be the state’s attorney. “When I decided to run, I embarked on a journey that was not easily rooted in an abundance of external support,” she said.
Mosby went on to win the race, making her the youngest chief prosecutor in the country.
The PILF auction raises money to fund stipends for BC Law students doing unpaid public interest summer work. Auction items included everything from sports tickets and gym memberships to brunch and dinner with BC Law professors. The auction drew a large crowd of students, alumni, and faculty.
As part of the PILF stipend application process, students are required to contribute volunteer hours to the auction by donating to the PILF toy drive, soliciting items, and taking tickets. PILF President Rufus Urion ’17 believes this spirit of student involvement speaks to the importance of public interest work at BC Law.
“As an entirely student-run organization, PILF sends a strong message to the rest of the student body that public interest work is vital. And that it is something that other students at BC Law care about,” he said. “I’m proud of the work PILF does because the stipends we dispense allow student to pursue jobs they truly care about, but that they might not otherwise be able to afford.”
Mosby, too, acknowledged the importance of PILF. “I personally understand the importance of this fundraiser and these PILF stipends in assisting those of us with a drive and passion to make a difference,” she said. “Unlike my friends, who chose to work in corporate America or for big law firms with big checks, I chose to acquire courtroom experience and took two unpaid internships in both my first and second year. Thanks to PILF, I was able to get through my summers at the US Attorney’s Office in Boston and then in Washington, DC.”
One of the most powerful moments of the night came when Mosby called on the students to commit themselves to social justice and to use their law degrees to effect positive social change.
“As the legal professionals of tomorrow, it’s up to you to continue to force change, to challenge the status quo in the pursuit of justice, and [to] use your law degrees to address the societal ills of racism, sexism, and poverty in this nation,” she said.
“Collectively, we have work to do and the time to do it is now. No one is more uniquely positioned to achieve racial, economic, and educational equality…to solve the problems faced by people of color and the economically disadvantaged than the young, educated, progressive leaders in this room,” she said. “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”