From teaching children about law and the legal profession to helping adults overcome employment obstacles to running, walking and cycling for charitable causes—our people give back. Six of our lawyers share their views on why community service matters.

Why is community service important?
POWELL: As lawyers, we are extraordinarily privileged. So whether through individual or collective efforts, pro bono work or community volunteering, I think it is particularly important that we give something back to society.

HERSHMAN: I believe we have a duty to use our skills to make a difference in society—to give back in a meaningful way. Our volunteers demonstrate true service to others through their support of organizations and schools in our local communities.

What are some of the projects you are involved in?
HARDY: We worked with Dress for Success in London to help develop and pilot a series of workshops for women who have been out of work for some time or are having difficulty getting back into the workplace. Dress for Success is sharing the format and materials with other companies, which will also run these workshops, and we have successfully run a second series at White & Case. It’s been a great start to what we hope will be a growing initiative.

HERSHMAN: I serve on the board of directors of Street Law, and I am involved with others in our New York office in its Law Firm Diversity Pipeline Program. It connects volunteer legal professionals from law firms, corporations and government agencies with high school students from diverse backgrounds to increase their interest in the law and encourages them to pursue legal careers. In this program, our lawyers teach law-related topics to the students, work with them on mock cases and host a one-day conference at the Firm at the end of the program. I am involved also in the White & Case/USO Bike Build program. This summer, our disputes and competition lawyers teamed up with the USO to build 100 bicycles for children of active duty military members. Our new US associates built another 200 bikes during their orientation week this autumn. It turned out to be an awesome team-building exercise for a very good purpose.

HONG: We started social responsibility committees in each Asia location in the middle of 2010. At first it was each office doing its own projects, and then we wanted to do something Asia-wide. We decided to work with Room to Read to build a library for a school in Laos. We encouraged all our lawyers to contribute their last hour of pay from 2010 and/or their first hour of pay from 2011. We managed to raise about US$24,000, which is more than enough to build one library, and we can even convert another room into a library as well. The construction is under way, and we are looking for ways to continue to support it.

COLE: The DC office Women’s Network works with the Washington Middle School for Girls, which educates young girls in Anacostia who are at high risk of ending their education prematurely. This year, we partnered with the National Association of Women Judges to host a Color of Justice program for 7th and 8th grade students. The program aims to encourage students who may not otherwise consider law as a career to do so. The all-day program included a panel of three judges and a luncheon with many of our lawyers and legal assistants. It was a great event. Our volunteers work with the school throughout the year in various other ways as well. We are very excited about this partnership.

NIKITINA: Many of our colleagues were doing something for disadvantaged children at Christmas time, and we thought we would do something for the whole Moscow office. We decided to work with the Educational Center for Refugee Children, which runs after-school programs. We host a Christmas party each year for about 60 children, and our people shop for individualized presents for each child. It doesn’t require a tremendous amount of time, which can be difficult to spare. While doing our Christmas shopping, we can just add an extra present. But it isn’t simply giving money. Given that you chose a particular child, you already feel a more personal connection with that child.

POWELL: I guess my situation is slightly different. What I do is just ride a bike around the English Lake District, which has got some of the toughest climbs in the UK, and gather money for four charities. This year, we managed to raise around €2,000. Now I do the easy bit; it’s our receptionist who’s the real heroine. She’s like the toll keeper; if ever you come to Brussels in the month of April, you’re not going to get through the door unless you contribute some sponsorship.

How do our people benefit from volunteering?
NIKITINA: Being part of a worthy project that helps others builds a connection among the people involved that strengthens work relationships.

COLE: Sometimes as a lawyer you don’t get to see the immediate benefit of your work, but when volunteering, it is always gratifying to see an immediate, tangible result.

POWELL: Volunteering creates a bond and commonality between co-workers that can help with future work projects.

HARDY: I think that participating in these sorts of activities develops our people, broadens their skills and encourages collaboration across the Firm. It is also a great way to get to know different White & Case people whom you wouldn’t otherwise meet.

HONG: Helping others gives me a different perspective. When I am volunteering, I feel like there is a lot more that I can do. Also, it gives me an opportunity to meet colleagues from other offices whom I might not have a chance to know.

Why is it important for the Firm to support community service?
HERSHMAN: Social responsibility benefits the Firm because good citizenship is good business. Volunteerism provides our lawyers with unique and rewarding opportunities for personal and professional growth, which creates a better work environment. These projects also can provide a unique opportunity to bond with our clients.

NIKITINA: Our people—lawyers and non-lawyers—like to see Firm support for local programs that improve their communities and help those less fortunate. This support and commitment makes us feel good about what we do and where we work.

COLE: You often get to meet, particularly in some of the larger offices, people you would never meet otherwise, and you find commonality.

HONG: Not only can the Firm’s support of these efforts strengthen existing client relationships, but given the growing importance of social responsibility, this may also be a factor considered by potential clients.

Do you believe the importance of community service has grown?
HERSHMAN: Yes. I believe that community service has become an essential part of our culture. It is no longer enough to provide clients with excellent legal advice. Premier law firms, like ours, must now demonstrate that they are also excellent corporate citizens.

HARDY: Today, corporate social responsibility is something that is expected. Our clients do it, our clients expect us to do it and it is just the right thing to do.

Our Volunteer Programs

Photo of students in Sri Lanka supplied by Room to Read, one of White & Case’s community partners.

Eileen Cole
Washington, DC

Alicia Hardy
Director of Professional Support

Alicia Hardy
New York

Alicia Hardy

Alicia Hardy
Local Partner

Alicia Hardy