A Culture of Responsibility

Our Asia offices engage in all aspects of social responsibility

As the children from Hoay Mor Village file into the room, they look around and their faces light up. Shelves filled with books and magazines surround them. Maps and educational posters cover the walls. Located in the lowlands of Laos approximately three hours from the capital city of Vientiane, Hoay Mor Village has a primary school that serves hundreds of pupils from nearby villages. The school has classrooms but has never had a library. Until now.

Not long after White & Case established social responsibility committees in each of its Asia offices, the committees decided to collaborate on a region-wide charity project. After our Singapore office sponsored the ten-year education of a girl in India and our Hong Kong office did the same for a girl in Vietnam—both through the charity Room to Read—the consensus was to partner with Room to Read to build a library in Laos. An international nonprofit that promotes literacy and gender equality in education, Room to Read works with local communities, partner organizations and governments to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children.

Through a mixture of fundraising efforts, including office collection boxes and contributions through payroll deductions, the campaign raised more than US$25,000, far exceeding the goal necessary for building the library. The additional funds were used by Room to Read to create a second library from a converted office in another Laos school. Both libraries were completed in October 2012, and Room to Read will actively support these libraries for three years, providing books, monitoring usage and training the librarians and teachers.

“Social responsibility has become an essential part of our culture,” said Nick Salmon, Chief Operating Officer in Asia. “It can be so rewarding to be involved in. We are also asked about our programs when recruiting, and it can make a difference when selecting a firm. Seeing photos of the libraries and knowing that we improved the lives of the village children really inspires us to want to do more.”

Barrye Wall, Regional Section Head in Asia, commented, “We have been trying to encourage a greater focus on social responsibility issues and, since the formation of the social responsibility committees in our Asia offices, we have seen a growing amount of engagement with charities and volunteer programs, more pro bono work and an increased focus on the environment.”

Growth in Pro Bono

Building on strong initiatives in Tokyo, Singapore and China, and led by 16 Pro Bono Leaders, pro bono matters in Asia grew by 65 percent in two years. From working with the UN and also a Cambodian charity to fight human trafficking, to helping Mercy Corps establish a formal presence in China, to helping Human Rights Now strengthen domestic violence laws in Japan, our pro bono matters in Asia offer our lawyers the chance to use their skills to make a difference in society.

Responding in emergencies

Our offices also mobilized to help victims affected by disasters throughout the region. Following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March 2011, White & Case partnered with Ashinaga to build a Rainbow House in Sendai City to provide support for local children affected by the loss of one or more parents. Our assistance following disasters in 2012 came in different forms: donations for flood victims in the Philippines, safety awareness campaigns after the severe rainstorms in Beijing and financial support for a free counseling hotline in the wake of the Lamma ferry disaster in Hong Kong.

Law school collaborations

We have also strengthened our relationships with law schools in Asia. We sponsor the qualifying rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in China and Hong Kong, and lawyers from all five Asia offices participate as judges. We are partnering with Jindal Global Law School, part of O.P. Jindal Global University, to train international scholars and support India’s legal education system and its legal profession, the first agreement of its kind between a major US law firm and an Indian law school. Our Tokyo office supports the Intercollegiate Negotiation Competition. The Hong Kong office partners with students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong on various programs, including co-hosting a cooking project for 20 disabled students from a local school and cleaning Hong Kong’s beaches.

Manila goes green

Based on employee interest, some offices have developed a particular social responsibility focus. For example, our Manila shared service facility is very active with environmental sustainability efforts. The office created “Task Force Berde,” a Green Initiative committee that, among other programs, launched the 2012 Green Challenge. Each month, a different department organizes programs to promote awareness and highlight actions employees can take at home and at work to reduce their impact on the environment.


increase in Asia pro bono matters in two years

Social Responsibility Asia

The newly constructed library at Hoay Mor Complete Primary School

“Since the formation of the social responsibility committees in our Asia offices, we have seen a growing amount of engagement with charities and volunteer programs, more pro bono work and an increased focus on the environment.”
Barrye Wall, Partner
Asia Regional Section Head


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