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#CovBlackHistory Spotlight Series: Michael Baxter

February 3, 2020

Michael BaxterThe D.C. Road Show is a collective effort, by several major DC law firms, to recruit African American law students to the Washington, DC market. Started in about 1975, the D.C. Road Show’s origins lay in the observation, at the time, that most African American law students interested in big-firm practice generally looked to the New York market. Michael Baxter has been the Chair of the D.C. Road Show for the last 20 years. As part of our celebration of African American History Month, we asked Michael to consider the legacy of the Road Show.

How did you first become involved with the D.C. Road Show?

I first became involved in the D.C. Road Show as a first-year associate in about 1984 when Tom Williamson -- at the time, one of only two black partners at Covington -- took me with him to attend a D.C. Road Show at Georgetown Law School. The Road Show was completely new to me. I sat in the audience of students.

How would you describe the influence of the D.C. Road Show on the student attendees?

The D.C. Road Show offers students the unique opportunity to interact, outside the context of a recruiting interview, with African American lawyers at some of the major law firms in Washington, DC. It presents a unique opportunity for candid discussions of subjects of interest and importance to African American law students; to address questions they may not have the opportunity to ask, or even be comfortable asking, in a recruiting interview. There is no script. There is no party-line. The answers are honest, frank, and from the personal experience of the Road Show panelists. The decision of many student attendees to practice in Washington, DC was influenced or confirmed by their own experience at a D.C. Road Show. I often meet lawyers in practice who tell me that they met me when they attended the D.C. Road Show as a student.

How has the D.C. Road Show evolved over time?

The D.C. Road Show was started 45 years ago to address the misperception that only students interested in the government or in regulatory practice should come to DC. Today, law practice in Washington, DC is as diverse and sophisticated as law practice in any major metropolitan city. The students attending the Road Shows have also evolved. Today’s attendees are definitely more familiar with and informed about big law. With that said, the draw of the Road Show remains essentially unchanged -- some students attend to gain better insight into law firm they are interested in joining. Others attend to learn how to better position themselves to be attractive to major law firms and some attend to learn whether they should even be interested in big-firm practice.

How would you describe the legacy of the D.C. Road Show?

This is the 45th anniversary of the D.C. Road Show. It has been an honor to have served as Chair for the last 20 years. The legacy of the D.C. Road Show is evident in the representation of African American lawyers at the major DC law firms. Many of them, if not most, have participated in the D.C. Road Show as students, lawyers, or both. I hope that the long tradition and important mission of the D.C. Road Show will continue in the years to come.

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