On July 7, 2021, Foley & Lardner LLP announced a national partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to support its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts.
Since then, all of the firm’s 22 U.S. offices have engaged with local Clubs on programs and initiatives that are responsive to the Clubs’ needs in that community — with a focus on activating the potential of kids and building more inclusive and equitable futures. Foley’s Mexico City office also began a partnership last year with Pro Niños de la Calle, a local charitable foundation working with children living on the streets or in otherwise challenging conditions.
As we celebrate the one-year anniversary, Foley Chairman and CEO Daljit Doogal and Partner Linda Benfield reflect on the last 12 months and what is next for the partnership.
Why did Foley begin this partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America?
Doogal: Over the past few years, the firm has taken a number of steps to further focus diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts internally. As part of that effort, we wanted to cultivate a culture of civic engagement by supporting organizations that service disadvantaged and marginalized communities. We wanted to partner with Boys & Girls Clubs of America because their mission to help kids matches our goal to make a difference in the communities in which we serve. Boys & Girls Clubs of America also has an initiative that offers inclusive and culturally relevant programs and resources that help nurture and elevate youth voices, which dovetails with our firm emphasis.
Benfield: Many of the firm’s offices had already been doing work on a local level with the Clubs for years. It made sense to bring these efforts together through a coordinated, national partnership to be able to provide even more support. The work done by Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a natural fit with Foley’s culture and our core value of citizenship. We have embraced our responsibility to our communities and try to lead by example through service.
What does this partnership mean to you personally?
Doogal: I am so proud that Foley was the first law firm to partner with Boys & Girls Clubs of America on a national scale when the partnership was announced. The Clubs provide safe places and care for kids in our communities and I enjoy helping in this effort. I am also energized by the work that we do together to advance racial equity and support the kids who need us most.
Benfield: As the leader of the firm’s liaisons with the local Clubs, I am fortunate to have a front-row view into all of the creative programs and events that our people are doing to provide positive experiences for young people and advocate for their futures. Knowing that our efforts and interactions with the kids can make both an immediate and long-term impact on their lives and the lives of their families means so much. One of my favorite memories is this year’s graduation celebration after our annual Street Law Legal Diversity Pipeline Program in Milwaukee. The program teaches high school students about legal professions and includes a mock trial. I love when the students tell me that they now want to become lawyers after their experience in the program.
What impact have you seen from the work Foley has done with Boys & Girls Clubs of America over the last 12 months?
Doogal: Within the firm, it’s been wonderful to see our attorneys and business professionals embrace this program in their communities. The firm has also helped bolster Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s DEI initiatives and implemented unconscious bias training for participating Club staff and has integrated trauma-informed practices into Club programs and strategies. Additionally, Foley has helped Boys & Girls Clubs of America grow its DEI team, select a new DEI council, and cultivate DEI assessment and trainings that have been piloted and developed within 26 Clubs.
Benfield: So many of our people across the firm have volunteered and become involved, and they are truly making a difference in these Club kids’ lives. We have hosted more than 120 activities and initiatives with local Clubs, including mentoring programs, reading programs, school supply and sporting equipment drives, holiday drives, beatification projects, and sporting events. Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, Clubs were challenged in unprecedented ways and we wanted to help them in any way we could so they could continue to provide the much needed services to kids and their families.
What are you looking to accomplishment in the next year through the partnership?
Doogal: I look forward to many more opportunities for us to work with the Clubs and the kids they serve, and to continue helping the organization increase and improve its DEI programs. We are also thinking about ways to involve our clients so they can participate with us on local activities with the Clubs, which helps the Clubs and also strengthens our client relationships in the process.
Benfield: We want to build on the momentum that we have started and do even more over the next year to make sure that youth and teens in our communities have access to tools and resources needed for success. We’ll be working with our local leads to continue developing new programs to meet the changing needs of the clubs, and to continue creating the relationships with the kids that have made a difference in everyone’s lives.