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Robert Shives Jr., assistant general counsel at Fujitsu America Inc., shouldn’t have any trouble finding a lunch date. With Silicon Valley corporate lawyers going hungry and Shives being the equivalent of big game, a slot on his lunch calendar should be a coveted prize for lawyers looking to pitch their expertise. Nevertheless, “I can’t say that in the last year invitations to lunch have increased or decreased,” said Shives. From his headquarters in San Jose, Shives provides legal support for a handful of Fujitsu’s U.S.-based companies. In all, he works with some two-dozen law firms, including the biggest Valley brand names. He’s the kind of client that many corporate lawyers want again now that they’re getting back to basics and revisiting established clients they may have ignored during the dot-com boom. Direct and promotional mailers are coming at him en masse from the Postal Service and the Internet. He said law firms are trying to sell everything from immigration services to employment advice to Sarbanes-Oxley Act guidance. He does see one significant change: When he makes a phone call, he’s getting lawyers on the line a lot sooner than in the past. “In the Valley, it’s easier now to get a responsive call, especially from a transactional lawyer,” Shives said. “During the dot-com boom time, when most of the Silicon Valley firms were inundated with work, it was harder to get a return phone call.” The impersonal touch of mass mail doesn’t faze Shives, however. Mass mailers have worked with him in the past — he had a collections problem once and found a firm through the mail. But “generally speaking, [the mailings] neither irritate me nor get my attention,” Shives said. “It all depends on whether it’s something I need at that very moment.”

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