Minnesota Urban Debate League Fellow Program

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Gray Plant Mooty is proud to serve as a model for other Twin Cities law firms, hosting the first Minnesota Urban Debate League Fellow in 2010, and building on a successful program in subsequent years. Dean Eyler, a principal in the firm’s Litigation practice group and chair of the MUDL Advisory Board, worked with Amy Cram Helwich, Executive Director of MUDL, to develop this unique program to benefit both the firm and the students of our community.

Through the program, the firm funds one student each summer through a competitive selection process. That student attends debate camp on a scholarship and then works during the remainder of the summer in the offices of the Minnesota Urban Debate League and in Gray Plant Mooty’s Minneapolis office. The firm provides a variety of work experiences and observation experiences to the student.

Independent studies have shown that students participating in debate through Urban Debate Leagues throughout the country have significantly increased literacy scores, improved grade point averages, and improved high school graduates rates. In fact, 100 percent of students participating in MUDL last year graduated on time and are now attending college. The Urban Debate League programs promote critical thinking skills, instill confidence in the students, and assist them in developing and expressing informed opinions. Further, the programs promote educational equity and help to close the achievement gap by making debate available to students in the Minneapolis and St. Paul Public Schools who would not otherwise have access.

The firm's 2013 Fellow said of his experience, "I immensely enjoyed my time at Gray Plant Mooty and was glad to have the experience. From the multiple lunches to the conversations with people I ran into in the hall to sorting things in the IRC and everything else, it was a very valuable experience. I learned some valuable life skills. I was able to see how a workplace works on a day to day basis, which will be very valuable for future employment. But the biggest thing I learned that could be categorized as a life skill would be organization or time management. One thing I really enjoyed about this internship was that I was actually able to engage in the realm of the legal system. While my voice wasn't too big, I still had a voice. The best example I have of this is when I helped [an attorney] with a pro-bono case. I have never felt so included in something that big in my life. Having access to this was incredibly big, and made me very appreciative of the time everyone spent with me."

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