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It’s not unusual for companies to fashion requests for proposals on standard business matters, but when Intel Corporation put out an invitation for help with pro bono, it was onto something new. Last fall the computer chip maker used an RFP to find law firms that would partner with attorneys at its Silicon Valley headquarters on community service projects. Encouraged by the results, Intel plans to repeat the request at three other offices this spring. “This really is a model,” says Esther Lardent, president of the Pro Bono Institute, a nonprofit consulting group based in Washington, D.C. “We’ve seen some pieces [of Intel's strategy elsewhere] … but having an actual formal RFP process hasn’t been done before.” Intel solicited ideas from a dozen firms (that had both pro bono coordinators and offices in the San Francisco Bay Area) to help with projects at its Santa Clara, California, campus. Ultimately the company selected Baker & McKenzie, which has done work for Intel before, and Nixon Peabody, which has not. “Whether we have a business relationship with a firm is not important [for the pro bono project],” says Intel GC Bruce Sewell. Intel’s initiative started with an extensive survey of its U.S. legal staff last March. More than 300 department employees, including 180 attorneys, were asked about their personal volunteer efforts, their interest in pro bono, and obstacles to doing community service work at the company. Group counsel Jeffrey Hyman, who chairs Intel’s pro bono committee, says that while some results were expected, other came as a surprise. “We learned that a lot [of our attorneys] used to do [pro bono] at law firms and other companies, but since coming to Intel had stopped,” says Hyman. “A number of people also felt there was no management approval for it, [and] that it wasn’t valued.” In December about 20 percent of the 110 legal employees in Intel’s Santa Clara office underwent pro bono training. The following month, several staff attorneys began working with Nixon Peabody on projects with two San Francisco � based public interest groups, Legal Services for Entrepreneurs and Legal Services for Children. One effort assists low-income business owners on various matters like real estate and trademarks, while the other resolves guardianship disputes for children. At press time Intel lawyers were slated to start work on a joint project with Baker & McKenzie and the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County to negotiate disputes for special education students in local schools. While the pro bono initiative offers Intel a chance to interact with the community, it also provides a chance for the company to interact with new counsel. “We didn’t really care if the law firm did [business] with us,” Sewell says. “We cared more about their ability to do these partnerships and programs.” Similarly, Nixon Peabody pro bono partner Stacey Slater says that her firm was motivated by the opportunity to do a good deed, not the chance of winning a new client. “That’s not at all why we’re doing this,” she says. “This partnership will help increase pro bono on both ends.”

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