By Su Suh, Pro Bono Racial Justice Counsel, Intel
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death last year, I was heartened to see how Intel and employees leaned into the work of social equity. Over the last year, Intel has supported numerous racial justice initiatives and encouraged employees to get involved in causes that matter to them. Business leaders sponsored discussions, speakers, and opportunities to learn and engage. In the legal department, Intel hired the company’s first Pro Bono Racial Justice counsel. I have the honor of serving in that role and, in partnership with the Intel Pro Bono Committee, am excited to bring additional expungement clinics and racial justice-related volunteer opportunities to Intel’s legal and policy teams.
Why expungements matter to racial justice
Black people are disproportionately impacted by the U.S. criminal justice system, and those impacts last far beyond incarceration. For example, in 2018, according to the Pew Research Center and the FBI, Black Americans constituted 33% of the sentenced prison population and 27.4% of arrests while representing only 12-13% of the U.S. population. Once arrested, individuals carry a criminal record that can be a barrier to jobs, housing, credit, and even the right to vote. As they are precluded from some of the most basic economic opportunities in the U.S., the rate of poverty in previously incarcerated populations is unsurprising.
However, expungement laws provide a second chance at economic and civic opportunities that would otherwise not be available to people because of a prior criminal record. Expungement seals or removes certain kinds of records after the passage of time. According to a Harvard Law Review Article, just one year after an expungement, an individual is 11% more likely to be employed and earn 22% more.
Given the huge opportunity uplift made possible by an expungement, it’s shocking that only 10% of the estimated 20-30 million people eligible for relief actually receive it. That’s because these second chance laws can be complex, are not widely publicized, and are difficult to apply for without legal assistance. The need for this legal support is critical, and this is where pro bono services comes in, as they can make a huge difference not only to an individual client but also to the families of those clients as well as to the communities in which Intel operates.
Intel’s Expungement Clinics Pilot
The Intel legal and policy teams are piloting a partnership with the Legal Aid Society of Oregon to deliver expungement services through virtual clinics. We plan to extend the pilot beyond Oregon and cohost similar virtual clinics with other pro bono partners in three additional locations over the next three months. As in-person events restart, we look forward to co-hosting expungement clinics in partnership with local nonprofits serving BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities. As part of Intel’s 2030 RISE strategy and goals, we have a goal of providing 1,000 additional hours of pro bono volunteer services, along with matching funds from the Intel Foundation, over the next year focused on expungement relief.
We believe law and policy are powerful tools in dismantling systemic social inequity, and launching the expungement clinics is just one way Intel is fighting for racial justice. Recognizing the gap in lawyers of color, Intel recently announced a $5 million grant for North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Law, a historically Black college and university, to create a Tech Law and Policy Center. As part of this partnership, three students will join Intel as summer legal associates. And in 2019, Intel established the Intel Rule to improve diversity in the legal profession by holding our legal counsel accountable to the Intel Rule, which states we will not retain or use outside law firms in the U.S. that are below average on diversity.
We are showing up for racial justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion — one person, one life, and one opportunity at a time. As a company, we have made it part our corporate purpose to take actionable steps to establish an environment of inclusion and a shared responsibility to use our technologies, size, and scale to enrich the lives of every person on earth. I couldn’t be more proud to be part of Intel.