The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
March 15, 2011

Dell Values Law Firm Pro Bono

Do legal departments value the pro bono commitment of their outside law firms? If recent news out of Texas is any indication, they do.

At a ceremony on January 25, Larry Tu, senior vice president and general counsel of Dell, Inc.* presented the first annual Pro Bono Law Firm Award to Vinson & Elkins LLP ** and Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody, P.C.** The award recognizes law firm pro bono achievement and came from the Dell Legal Department’s Community Involvement/Pro Bono Committee, which recognizes the valuable assistance law firms prvide the Dell legal department on pro bono activities.

The award not only expresses the legal department’s appreciation for the pro bono support it receives from outside counsel, but also points to a recent trend of law firms and legal departments working side by side to address critical legal needs.

For some time, Dell and Vinson & Elkins have partnered to staff a monthly clinic hosted by Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas (VLS) and Rio Grande Legal Aid that services low-income people in central Texas. Afterward, Dell and Vinson & Elkins lawyers work together to address the issues identified during the clinic. Cases involve a wide range of issues including landlord tenant disputes, immigration issues, mechanic’s liens, and land sale disputes.

Graves Dougherty has also been an important partner of Dell legal with respect to its pro bono activities, having worked alongside a number of attorneys for local organizations including Texas C-BAR, the Austin Yellow Bike Project, and the Austin Zoo.

Accepting the award on behalf of Vinson & Elkins was the Managing Partner of the firm’s Austin Office, William Volk, while Vinson & Elkins attorney Acelyn Ross was given special recognition for her role as coordinator of the evening clinic. Accepting the award on behalf of Graves Dougherty was firm President Michael Whellan.

*denotes a Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono ChallengeSM

**denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®