I’m incredibly proud that, in a survey of 150 law firms, The Recorder ranked Fox Rothschild #2 in California in terms of diversity. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t much more that needs to be done.

For the past year, I’ve been heavily involved in the Bay Area Urban Debate League. BAUDL is part of a movement that seeks to establish and maintain competitive debate leagues in under-resourced public high schools, through which under-served youth are taught to research and advocate positions on complex policy issues. Its participants are overwhelmingly students of color (98%) and low income (66%). BAUDL currently serves 15 high schools locally, with about 450 student participants, principally in San Francisco and Oakland.

BAUDL helps kids develop communications skills and confidence. It gives them structure and discipline. It exposes them to positive role models. It increases their odds of academic success and progress (literacy scores, grade point averages and graduation rates all demonstrably increase for BAUDL participants). A disproportionately high percentage of BAUDL participants go on to college (88%, compared to barely half of their schools’ student populations). And more than half of the participants aspire to a career in the legal profession. BAUDL is thus successfully feeding the pipeline today with the diverse lawyers (and teachers, leaders, business people, etc.) of tomorrow.

Currently, BAUDL is in the midst of its Champions of Diversity Challenge, in which Fox Rothschild and 16 other law firms are competing to see who can raise the most (overall and per attorney). You can see the participating firms and the current standings here. If you’d like to donate, you can use that link to donate and have it credited to whichever of the competing firms you choose. If you’re a Bay Area law firm and want to get in on the act next year, please let me know.

I’ve met many of these young people and their stories are inspiring. The challenges they’ve survived and the strides they’ve made are amazing. You can read some of their stories here. One of our alums, Rashid Campbell (pictured below), is currently vying for the national debate championship and was just named 2nd out of the 288 top speakers in the country.

Please consider helping BAUDL to help these young people. They deserve a chance and BAUDL can provide it.