Ballgame fundraiser honors legacy of public interest attorney
Ten years ago, friends of the late public interest attorney Mark Weiss, a 1969 alumnus of Wayne State University Law School, created a fundraiser to honor his legacy.
Today, that event — Mark Weiss Day at Comerica Park — is going strong. It raises money to provide scholarships for law students interested in public interest law and for recent Wayne Law graduates in the field to help retire their student debt. This year’s event is set for 5:30 p.m. July 26 at Comerica Park. The evening begins with a picnic on party deck No. 3 at the ballpark, followed by the game — Detroit Tigers vs. Philadelphia Phillies — at 7 p.m. The cost is $100 — $50 of which is a tax-deductible donation to the Mark Weiss Memorial Scholarship Fund.
For Michael Pitt, a “Super Lawyer” civil rights attorney, co-founder of Pitt McGehee Palmer Rivers & Golden, and a 1974 Wayne Law alumnus, the fundraiser is personal.
Pitt, along with Weiss’ friends and legal partners, Barry Waldman, Marjory Cohen, Kenneth Mogill and Jon Posner, founded the ballgame benefit and the scholarship it endows, a joint project of Wayne Law and the Michigan Association for Justice. To date, 29 scholarships have been awarded in memory of Weiss.
Pitt said he knew Weiss, who was a few years older, growing up in their Detroit neighborhood, and admired him.
“As I became a lawyer, I realized that he represented the kind of lawyer that I wanted to be,” Pitt said. “He was an inspiration to me. Mark devoted his considerable skills to fighting for the rights of the poor and powerless, and protecting the civil rights of all litigants. Mark was a former president of the Michigan Association for Justice, and one of the recognized leaders of the organization. The year the fundraiser was founded, I was headed to be president of the organization, so I wanted to not only recognize Mark, but also show leadership for MHA, to encourage members to become more open and charitable in their outlook toward the legal profession.”
A “core group” attends the ballpark benefit honoring Weiss each year — people who knew and admired him along with their family members. It also is a good chance for networking and to serve a worthy cause, Pitt said.
“Anybody interested in helping students become interested in public interest law ought to attend this event,” he said. “At the picnic before the game, people are very open and willing to introduce themselves.”
And, he added, it’s a lot of fun.
If you cannot attend the game, but wish to make a contribution to the Mark Weiss Memorial Scholarship Fund, donations are accepted online or by mail. If by mail, send your check directly to Wayne State University Law School: Mark Weiss Scholarship Fund, attention: Matt Cunningham at 471 West Palmer