BY JOY FANG
SINGAPORE law firm Rajah & Tann announced yesterday that it will give a portion of its earnings to social causes annually - a first by a legal firm here.
A portion of its annual profits will be committed to support projects that help to meet charitable needs in Singapore.
While the firm declined to reveal the percentage of its profits which will be used, it said that a minimum of $200,000 will be disbursed annually through the newly set up Rajah & Tann Foundation.
The firm's managing partner, senior counsel Lee Eng Beng, said the firm "has always had a strong sense of community spirit".
The setting up of the foundation acts as a further step to "deepen our commitment to play the role of a socially responsible corporate citizen".
"It will also allow us to channel donations to charities in an organised, cohesive and focused manner and provide a focal point for lawyers and staff to participate in initiatives to raise funds for worthy causes," he added.
Mr Lee said the firm is confident that the total disbursement should be more than the minimum $200,000 pledged, as plans are in the pipeline to organise fund-raising activities.
While the firm has not specified which beneficiaries will benefit from the fund "as the landscape for needy causes changes by the year", it will channel funds to where the needs are greatest, he said.
The effort comes in the wake of the Government's encouragement of the private sector to play a greater role in supporting the needy.
Last August, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said more corporate organisations should come forward because they "add resources, creativity and new channels for reaching out to those in need of assistance".
Other law firms here have also adopted charitable causes. KhattarWong said it contributes between $80,000 and $100,000 annually towards its corporate-social-responsibility activities. About $60,000 of that amount is doled out in the form of education scholarships, book prizes and bursaries. Miscellaneous donations are also handed over to causes such as the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund.
The firm also raised about $400,000 at its last two charity golf tournaments in 2008 and 2009.
That sum was donated to KhattarWong's adopted charities, the Children's Cancer Foundation (CCF) and Club Rainbow.
Another charity golf tournament is slated to be held in April.
KhattarWong managing partner Tan Chong Huat said the firm's staff respond regularly to calls for relief donations of clothes and food, and spend time with the children from CCF.
The firm's lawyers invest not only money into these causes but also their time, which "equates to billable hours foregone", he added.
For more my paper stories click here.