The Gould School of Law received a $2 million estate gift from educator and former Gould advisory board member Barbara Bice Monday. The donation will go to the student organization Public Interest Law Foundation to support their work with underserved communities.
The foundation, established in 1988 by Gould students, provides funding for students in public interest law internships and assembles pro bono law clinic workshops to provide legal relief for vulnerable populations, including people experiencing homelessness and undocumented immigrants. The organization was founded under the administration of former Dean Scott Bice and has had seen behind-the-scenes support from Barbara in getting alumni donations to support student grants.
In light of the endowment, the foundation will be renamed The Barbara F. Bice Public Interest Law Foundation. The current president of the foundation, Mirelle Raza, said the change was appropriate given the Bices’ work for the student body and Los Angeles community but also much-needed financial support for growing inquiry in the public interest field.
“It’s a testament to the Bices’ 50 plus years of commitment to the law school,” Raza said. “But I think it also is just showing that there is a massive increase in the amount of students we’re seeing that are interested in public interest work. This year, we had two-thirds of the first-year class show up to the public interest law foundation meeting, and it’s very exciting for our thriving public interest community at Gould.”
In addition to providing support for internships, the organization works with community partners to strengthen student participation in public interest law, including the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles Skid Row Clinic, which works to protect the constitutional rights of those experiencing homelessness and low-income communities in the Skid Row area, and the Bet Tzedek Gender Marker and Name Change Clinic, which provides assistance with completing name-change and fee waiver applications.
“This is the reality of any donation, but especially something as incredible as this endowment, because the endowment’s going to be protected for PILF students forever,” Raza said. “And there, it doesn’t just help USC students, it really will help the entire community. This is a decision and a donation that will have an effect on the L.A. legal community forever.”