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Jennifer Goldstein had prepared for weeks for a trial and was psyched to try the case — but it ended up settling the day trial was to start. The associate at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Gray Cary Ware & Friedenrich was still brimming with energy on that day last spring, so she channeled it into working with children at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula. Goldstein helped kids with their homework at the organization’s East Palo Alto facility, and she was able to forget about her job for a few hours. “It’s tough to think about much else when there’s 100 kids bounding about,” Goldstein said. Goldstein is one of more than 30 lawyers that Gray Cary has lined up to staff, on a volunteer basis, the homework program at the Boys and Girls Club in East Palo Alto. The brainchild of two partners, the program is a year old and draws about 350 children a day. Goldstein was named volunteer of the year in May, but it’s a distinction she pooh-poohs. “If I was the best volunteer, then the clubs of the world hurt, and more people need to get out there,” she said. Les DeWitt, a Silicon Valley businessman and philanthropist who’s a member of the Clubs’ board, said he hopes more companies organize their employees to help out with youth programs. “We have more kids than we have staff,” DeWitt said. Gray Cary got involved in September 2001 when partner Lillian Stenfeldt chanced to meet DeWitt and talked about her willingness to help with children’s programs. Stenfeldt said she was quickly hooked and she drafted partner Christopher Bakes to help recruit other lawyers at the firm. They schedule lawyers for one day a month and keep a list of substitutes for last-minute cancellations. They have even drafted a few clients. Stenfeldt and Bakes have since joined the board of directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula. “The attorneys enjoy getting out of their work and interacting with children,” Stenfeldt said. Despite the broad base of support at the firm, the program is not part of the firm’s formal pro bono efforts. Goldstein said interacting with youngsters is both fun and therapeutic. “They’re so intrinsically good, so positive and upbeat,” Goldstein said, adding the program is a great way to enjoy “the benefits of having kids without having to feed them.”

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