DLA Piper has strong roots in Silicon Valley, where its predecessor firm Ware & Freidenrich was founded in the 1960s. Today, DLA Piper is one of the three largest law firms in the world with more than 80 offices across the United States and in more than 30 countries. Still, the firm continues its decades-long relationship with the Ecumenical Hunger Program (EHP), which provides direct services to families and individuals in need in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and surrounding communities.
DLA Piper’s local offices in East Palo Alto are on University Avenue near the intersection of the 101 Freeway. The firm’s relationship with EHP began in the mid-1980s, when Nevida Butler, then executive director of EHP, recruited the help of Tom French, a former partner at DLA Piper in East Palo Alto. Tom and a then young real estate lawyer who had just joined the firm, Jim Anderson, are among many at DLA Piper who have helped EHP grow from a food pantry into the substantial nonprofit it is today. EHP is the largest direct food provider to families in need in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park.
Tom French was the first of many DLA Piper attorneys who have served on the EHP Board of Directors. Tom served two terms as Chair of the EHP Board of Directors and was instrumental in forming the Friends of EHP, an advisory board-like body comprised of former EHP board members, volunteers, donors and representatives of corporate sponsors like DLA Piper.
Jim Anderson, who has also served twice as Chair of the EHP Board of Directors, currently serves as Vice Chair in his fourth term on the board. He and the other board members help provide financial and operational oversight, ensure adequate resources and raise funds to enable EHP to fulfill its mission.
Jim’s experience in real estate law was also instrumental in helping EHP grow from its first offices in a church to a four-building campus on Pulgas Road in East Palo Alto that it owns (debt free) today.
DLA Piper, through its non-profit affiliate, New Perimeter, is at the forefront in the legal industry and business community in providing assistance to charitable organizations and academic institutions. Every lawyer across the firm is encouraged to make a serious and sustained effort to provide pro bono work and contribute to the community. In 2014, the firm devoted more than 200,000 hours to pro bono initiatives, which makes DLA Piper one of the world’s largest providers of pro bono services.
EHP has maintained its “grass roots” by continuing to provide personal and customized services to individuals and families in the region. Similarly, the lawyers and professionals at DLA Piper don’t just play an advisory role to EHP; they are involved at the grass-roots and the local level.
This year, the firm will have over 25 volunteers assisting with EHP’s holiday distributions and those who work at the firm have personally contributed more than $10,000 to the holiday drive. Their donations over the years have included hundreds of toys, gift cards, clothing, food items and even cars for families in need. The firm is also a leading fundraiser for EHP, sponsoring the annual Steppin’ Out Event.
Jim Anderson of DLA Piper summed up the firm’s commitment to the local nonprofit, “EHP provides both myself and our local office with the opportunity to connect with the broader community in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and surrounding areas. The firm’s volunteer opportunities at EHP help contribute to the local community – and to team building. We love supporting EHP with our food drives and fundraisers because we know the food, clothes, household goods and funds that we raise go directly to those in our community that need some help.”
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