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Office Depot Legal Pays it Forward

Adapted from the Office Depot Newsletter
May 16, 2011

Like the boy Trevor, who launches a good-will movement in the 2000 movie “Pay It Forward”, the Office Depot Legal Department recently launched a new good-will movement of its own, donating a sum total of a full week of work to the local community.

Indeed, life really mimicked art when General Counsel, Elisa Garcia, encouraged the legal department to pay it forward with pro bono hours, or hours of legal work donated to the community. Office Depot lawyers took the opportunity to do this during Law Week, which ran from May 3 to May 7, 2011, which is a week-long program sponsored by the Palm Beach County Bar Association in conjunction with similar programs in schools and the community.  Two-thirds of the lawyers in the legal department donated over 55 hours of their time to pro bono activities.

The Office Depot lawyers worked with elementary schools, middle schools, and even a juvenile detention center conducting mock trials and teaching students about the judicial system. Jodi Thompson, Corporate Counsel, said about her pro bono experience, “This was very rewarding and I will definitely participate in this program again.”

In addition to conducting mock trials, the Office Depot attorneys spoke to large groups of students in order to pique their interests in a career in the legal profession. General Counsel, Elisa Garcia, spent one morning with sixty 8th grade students at Lake Worth Middle School speaking about the legal profession.  The students she spoke to spoke English as a second language with varying degrees of proficiency.

In addition to appearing at schools for mock trials and speaking to students about the legal profession, many of the Office Depot attorneys participated in Dial-A-Lawyer, a program during Law Week where anonymous callers obtained answers to their personal legal questions free of charge. The legal inquiries covered a number of topics, such as contracts, employment, homeowner associations, foreclosures, and even personal injuries.

Overall, participation of the Office Depot lawyers was excellent and their time and efforts were sincerely appreciated by the recipients. The Office Depot Legal Department plans to continue to pay it forward with more pro bono hours and opportunities to give back to the community in the future.  In fact, Office Depot lawyers are currently participating in other programs, handling foreclosure and guardianship cases in partnership with the Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society.