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Corporate Counsel Connect collection

December/January 2012 Edition

HP's pro bono program provides assistance to those in need

Andrea Fitanides, VLSP Supervising Attorney and Pro Bono Manager

Andrea FitanidesIn the last issue of Corporate Counsel Connect, I wrote about the best practices for developing in-house pro bono programs. This issue, I want to highlight an in-house department that has a demonstrated commitment to giving back to the community and to providing representation to low-income individuals through pro bono work: Hewlett-Packard Company (HP). HP partners with the Volunteer Legal Services Program of The Bar Association of San Francisco (VLSP) and other legal service providers on pro bono projects to serve those in need.

HP volunteers regularly at VLSP's Legal and ID Clinics at San Francisco's Project Homeless Connect (PHC). Operated by the City of San Francisco, PHC is a citywide event that brings together city agencies and nonprofit providers to connect homeless individuals to services in San Francisco. HP's volunteers work as intake interviewers with PHC to help make it possible for VLSP to provide free legal assistance to hundreds of homeless clients annually. HP attorneys and staff also volunteer at the Legal Advice and Referral Clinic (LARC), VLSP's free monthly walk-in clinic, providing brief legal advice to low-income clients. HP generously donated new HP laptops and portable printers to use at LARC, allowing us to increase our on-site services to clients.

Additionally, HP has a long-term commitment to VLSP's Housing Negotiation Project. Through this limited-scope project, volunteer attorneys represent low-income individuals and families being evicted during their mandatory settlement conferences. Through this project, HP attorneys have successfully represented individuals and families who were facing eviction to prevent homelessness.

By partnering with VLSP and other legal service nonprofits, HP has found pro bono opportunities that work for its staff. This includes finding limited-scope opportunities – opportunities that include non-attorneys, and projects that utilize a transactional skill set. Part of what makes HP's program successful is also the top-down support. HP's GC has volunteered with VLSP, and other senior attorneys, such as Bruce Ives, are actively involved with pro bono work.

Of HP's pro bono commitment, Jay DeGooyer, HP Director, Global Supply Chain and Direct Procurement, said: "[g]reat companies give their employees opportunities to contribute to the communities in which they live and work. HP has a long history of employee volunteerism, and our Pro Bono Program continues that tradition in a way that leverages the training and expertise of all of our team members around the world. Our volunteers report that the pro bono work they do is one of the most rewarding experiences in their legal careers."

Last year, through its various pro bono commitments, nearly 100 Bay Area HP employees performed in excess of 1,400 hours of pro bono work. Thanks to their dedication to serving the community, HP received VLSP's Outstanding Corporation in Public Service Award for 2009.

HP has been a dedicated partner to VLSP in providing assistance to clients in need and it serves as a model for in-house pro bono programs.

About the Author

Andrea Fitanides is the Supervising Attorney of the Volunteer Legal Services Program of the Bar Association of San Francisco (VLSP)'s Community Organization Representation Project (CORP) and the VLSP Pro Bono Manager. Andrea joined VLSP as the Supervising Attorney of CORP and in July 2009 she expanded her role and took on additional responsibilities for volunteer recruitment and program development as Pro Bono Manager. Additionally, Andrea was appointed to the State Bar of California's Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services for a 2012-2015 term. Prior to joining VLSP, Andrea was a litigation associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP. She received her B.A. in philosophy at Claremont McKenna College and earned her J.D. at the UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall).

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