In-house law departments are usually viewed as a group of hidden attorneys who approve and reject contracts, or who provide training classes that use a lot of Latin and semi-colons.  That’s entirely true, but here at Dell our legal team also devotes a good deal of time to promoting our core values of volunteerism (known in Legalese as pro bono because it’s Latin) and diversity.

On Tuesday, April 3, I had the honor of presenting our 2012 Pro Bono Excellence Award to Baker Botts L.L.P for the law firm’s extensive work with Dell Legal on behalf of the Austin Children’s Shelter and Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas.  Larry Tu, our General Counsel, and I were proud to present Baker Botts representatives with this special recognition.

Larry set the stage when he told the assembled legal team members “People ask me what I look for in an outside counsel.  I always respond that it is important for an outside counsel to listen to the client and align themselves with our commitment to the community in which we work. Baker Botts has always aligned itself with our interests in serving the community.”

Baker Botts has proven this commitment over the past year.  The firm assisted Mark Mouritsen, Dell Legal’s Executive Director for Mergers and Acquisitions, who also serves on the board of Austin Children’s Shelter, with legal work for a strategic alliance.  And the firm has teamed up with Dell attorneys to staff five cases from Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas which provides legal support to cases involving domestic violence, child support, and other issues where low-income clients need assistance.  This is the second year Dell has awarded a Pro Bono Excellence Award and we look forward to continuing the tradition. 

Another annual award Dell has announced is the Dell Legal Diversity Award.  Larry blogged about this new award back in October, 2011 and the Dell Legal Diversity Committee has already asked dozens of law firms to be considered for the award.

Currently, Dell Legal has asked law firms with which Dell does significant business to fill out an initial survey on the firm’s diversity efforts.  From that survey, a batch of finalists will be selected for in-depth interviews and a winner ultimately selected in the fall.  We are already hearing great feedback on the efforts these firms are taking and we look forward to hearing more from the finalists over the next few months.