Our 2016 and 14th consecutive Law Firm Challenge is off to the races, heading to our June 30th finish. We thank all of our participating alumni and firms for joining us. Thanks to your support, our Challenge is one of the stand-out alumni outreach and fundraising initiatives at UCLA Law and has gained recognition as one of the very best in the nation. Below is a statement of our values and goals for this year’s Challenge.
First, as we discussed at our recent kickoff luncheon with our new and very impressive Dean, Jennifer Mnookin, and our other good friends from the school, our goal as always is to break last year’s records, when we had 101 firms in the Challenge, achieved a 79% aggregate participation rate, had 58 firms get to 100% and had the alumni at our firms contribute approximately $1.1M to UCLA Law. These are great results and we have come a long way since 2002 when we launched the Challenge with just four firms, but we have much room to grow.
Second, this year we will be focusing our efforts to encourage our colleagues, especially our partners, to increase the level of their financial support for the school. A review of at last year’s numbers demonstrates that we can and should increase our financial support at this critical time when UCLA Law is competing with far better endowed peer schools for the best and brightest students, while at the same time leading top 20 schools in providing access to opportunity and diversity. Accordingly, we intend to track contribution numbers closely and to recognize those firms which achieve the highest percentages of their partners giving at a Leadership Level of $1,000 or more. These firms will be specially recognized on the Challenge results page with a gold star. Of course, participation still certainly matters, as much as ever. And as Dean Mnookin expressed, the school is grateful for all gifts, of whatever size. But we do hope that many of our alumni at your firms, who have been giving consistently for the last few years, will consider increasing their investment in our great law school. It will be much appreciated.
Third, as always, all gifts to UCLA Law count for the purposes of the Challenge and can be earmarked on the school’s giving page for purposes that are special to each of us, such as the Dean’s Discretionary Fund, UCLA Law Women LEAD, the Public Interest Fund and Scholarships. On the scholarship front, we still have available funds from the One Million Dollar Scholarship Challenge that several unnamed donors established last year, to match scholarship gifts, dollar-for-dollar. In addition, we will continue to work with those of you and your firms who have expressed an interest in endowing law firm scholarships, as already has been done by Irell & Manella, Latham & Watkins, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, Morrison Foerster, O’Melveny and Paul Hastings.
Fourth, and most importantly, we must not lose sight of the larger mission of the Challenge, namely to encourage our alumni to stay engaged with UCLA Law after graduation and support it not just with our money, but also with our time, energy and talents. In these challenging times for all American law schools, it is more important than ever that our alumni spend time on campus, recruiting and mentoring students and helping them prepare for their lives as lawyers in a rapidly changing world. The more than 150 representatives at our Challenge firms and their colleagues are doing this, and we encourage you to join us.
Finally, and importantly for those of us who are Challenge representatives, we are part of a team of colleagues and friends who enjoy working together with the school’s faculty and staff for the good of UCLA Law and its students and enjoy seeing our efforts bear fruit as the school and its students achieve even greater excellence. The Challenge holds events throughout the year for our firm representatives and our friends at UCLA Law, which allows us to build on the collegiality and camaraderie that is a hallmark of UCLA Law’s culture, which sets us apart from many other law schools. Our work together gives our law firms an opportunity for greater involvement with UCLA Law and greater exposure in the Los Angeles legal community. All of this is highly important and great fun.
So, if you and your firm are not already participating in the Challenge, we encourage you to join us. You will find great satisfaction and personal opportunities in it, and you will join a special group of excellent and committed UCLA Law alumni. Please contact La Shawn Hardemion at (310) 206-2344 or firstname.lastname@example.org to enroll your firm in the UCLA Law Firm Challenge.
Thank you for your great support of UCLA Law and the Challenge. See you at the finish line!