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Why community outreach is integral to BC&C’s philosophy

Law firms, like the rest of corporate Hong Kong, have a duty to invest in the community and actively embrace worthy causes, writes Boase Cohen & Collins Senior Partner Colin Cohen.

Hong Kong, 17 October 2016: When a team of Boase Cohen & Collins staff crossed the finishing line in this past weekend’s 30km Raleigh Challenge hike, it was not just a personal achievement for themselves or a feather in the cap for our firm – it was another significant step in our ongoing efforts at community outreach.

We are living in changing times. In the era of Facebook and Twitter and heightened public scrutiny, people are more aware than ever of social issues and they expect companies – from small businesses to global corporations – to act responsibly. Organisations have to explain their actions to an increasingly demanding audience.

In the case of an independent firm such as ourselves, I strongly believe that being successful and profitable carries with it an obligation to contribute, or “give something back”, to the community from which we have sprung.

The Raleigh Challenge is a good example. The event supports Raleigh Hong Kong, a registered charity committed to inspiring Hong Kong youth to explore their full potential through participation in programmes held locally and internationally. So, when a group of staff approached myself and the Partners wishing to form a team, we had no hesitation in agreeing to cover their entry fees and make a contribution. We saw it not as a charitable donation but an investment in our community.

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BC&C's Raleigh Challenge team - Joanna Chin (left), Angeline Chan and Niall Donnelly.

In the past 12 months, our staff have participated in events that have benefited various worthwhile causes. Last November, a team of BC&C employees competed in the Po Leung Kuk Charity Run at Pak Tam Chung Holiday Camp in the New Territories. The 8km event raised funds for the Po Leung Kuk, the historic charitable organisation that provides a range of community services for orphaned children, the elderly and at-risk families in Hong Kong.

Lions Clubs International were the beneficiaries when a group of our staff took part in the Lions Run For Hospice 10k race in Tai Po last March. Later that month our 30th Anniversary Golf Day at Hong Kong Golf Club included fund-raising for the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children.

Last Christmas, BC&C Partner Susan Cheung and colleague Olivia Tse organised a staff visit to two homes for the elderly as part of the local charity Giving Bread, which aims to bridge the gap between food wastage and hunger. The festive well-wishers arrived with bread, cakes and cookies for their hosts and also handed out gifts including blankets, jumpers and socks.

As well, our sponsorship programmes, while obviously elevating BC&C’s profile and helping us reach a wider audience, are intended to benefit young people and encourage healthy outdoor activities. We are in our second year of backing Runners Athletic Club, one of Hong Kong’s premier track and field clubs with more than 300 members. Our funding helps cover equipment, administration and promotional costs as the club’s elite-level athletes compete in events at home and abroad.

Last month, we extended our title sponsorship of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s Inter-School Sailing Festival for a further four years. While the event provides us with an excellent platform for community outreach and client hospitality, it is gratifying to see young people enjoy what is a new sport for many and to promote an outdoor lifestyle.

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BC&C has just extended its title sponsorship of the RHKYC's Inter-School Sailing Festival.

Of course, our training as lawyers puts us in prime position to assist the more disadvantaged in our midst. In this regard, I’m proud of our record of pro bono work and the culture of social awareness we promote amongst our staff, especially the lawyers. As a firm, we collected a Silver Award under the Law Society’s 2015 Pro Bono and Community Work Recognition Programme. My long-time colleague and BC&C Partner Alex Liu, who typifies this spirit and can-do attitude, received an individual Gold Award.

Before we start looking like Good Samaritans, it should be stressed that community outreach also benefits us, as it does any commercial company. And we are not the only law firm in Hong Kong or elsewhere doing our share, others have excellent programmes and records of achievement.

The UK Small Business Consortium published a survey that declared “88 per cent of consumers said they were more likely to buy from a company that supports and engages in activities to improve society”. We understand such efforts elevate our profile, improve our reputation and help enhance relationships with individual and corporate clients.

But these alone are not reasons for doing it. More than anything, we enjoy the feeling of satisfaction that we are contributing, physically as well as financially. And long may this continue.