Michael A. Gollin (’84), Founder of the Public Interest Project, Remembered

BU Law honors a founder of one the school’s leading student groups, which provides financial support to students seeking unpaid public interest internships.

Michael Gollin ('84)Michael A. Gollin (’84), one of the founders of the Public Interest Project (PIP) at Boston University School of Law, passed away on November 20 after five years of living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Born in Rochester, NY, Gollin graduated from Princeton University in 1978 with a degree in biochemistry. He received his master’s degree in biology from the University of Zurich in 1981, and a JD degree from Boston University in 1984.

While at BU Law, Gollin and two classmates—Joe Ronson and Dan Van Doren (both ’85)—began thinking about how to create a support system for fellow students who shared their passion in public interest, but couldn’t afford to pursue it as a career. Together they founded PIP to provide financial support to students seeking summer work in otherwise unpaid public interest internships.

More than thirty years later, PIP is one of the leading law student groups at Boston University, fostering a commitment to nonprofit, government, and pro bono work, and promoting community service to all interested BU Law students and alumni. The organization presented Gollin with the PIP Innovators Award in 2014.

Gollin began his practice in New York City with Kenyon and Kenyon, later moving to Washington, DC to practice environmental law with Sive, Paget, Riesel. He made major contributions as a patent attorney at Venable LLP, where he made partner and chaired the firm’s Life Sciences Group. His passion for pro bono service led him to found the Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors (PIIPA) in 2002.

In 2012, Gollin was diagnosed with ALS. He participated in clinical studies and advocated pro bono for the ALS Association (ALSA) and the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) to accelerate the search for therapies for this incurable disease, communicating with governmental units and testifying at FDA and congressional hearings. In 2015, he was named the ALSA Rasmussen Advocate of the Year.

Gollin documented his thoughts and values through poetry and prose in his blog, InnovationLifeLove, with small notes about his life and what he discovered on his journey with ALS.

“When I was diagnosed with ALS, I was dragged into a terrifying new situation,” Michael wrote, “but I realized how lucky I’ve been in life, and I quickly resolved to make the best of the situation. It has been surprisingly liberating to explore this uncharted territory.”

Shortly after he was diagnosed, his family established the Michael A. Gollin Fund for Public Interest and Intellectual Property at Boston University. The endowed fund provides a permanent source of support to help students pursue public interest and intellectual property law, regardless of their financial constraints. It wraps Gollin’s two passions into one source of support, giving full testimony to his belief that the path to fulfillment requires both creativity and service to others.

Gollin's memorial will be held at the Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi, Maryland on Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 4:30 p.m. The family welcomes memorial donations to the Michael A. Gollin Fund for Public Interest and Intellectual Property, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Amnesty International.

To learn more about supporting the Michael A. Gollin Fund for Public Interest and  Intellectual Property, please contact the BU Law Development & Alumni Relations Office at lawalum@bu.edu or 617-353-3118.

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