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Operation Santa Claus

Lawyers on the Hong Kong case have answers for those in need

Clifford Chance employees rise to the occasion with hot air balloon debate featuring a certain Donald Trump and their popular annual quiz

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 December, 2016, 12:38pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 December, 2016, 9:50pm

An imaginary hot air balloon was rapidly sinking, and personalities including Malala Yousafzai, Harry Potter and Donald Trump were on board. Someone had to be thrown out to prevent the demise of all the contestants, and only the best debater could survive.

This was just one of many fun activities to liven up two Clifford Chance staff parties that saw employees face off for good causes.

The multinational law firm teamed up with Operation Santa Claus, the annual charity appeal organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, to raise funds for some of the city’s most vulnerable people.

From a modest beginning in 1988, the appeal has raised over HK$250 million to help 237 local non-government organisations.

The annual staff quiz and ­balloon debate are a key fixture in the calendar, Rebecca Roth-Biester, the firm’s regional head of ­responsible business, said. Last year Clifford Chance raised some HK$8,000 for the campaign.

This month the company did better, generating HK$11,000, comprising HK$5,000 from the debate and HK$6,000 from the quiz.

“We have been running [the quiz] for seven years now and ­every year we support Operation Santa Claus,” she said. “It is a great way to start the festive season.”

Regional managing partner Geraint Hughes took part and praised “the energy, collaboration and innovation among the competing teams”.

Funds were raised not merely through registration fees. Aspiring policeman Rocky Mui playfully patrolled the room and fined guests for infractions such as wearing a nasty tie, yawning or ­arguing with the quiz master.

Each year the staff party ­features a different theme, and the recent quiz paid tribute to ­children’s author Roald Dahl in celebration of his 100th birthday.

Previous themes included Monopoly, Alice in Wonderland, and pirates.

It gets highly competitive. After all, lawyers like to win
Rebecca Roth-Biester, Clifford Chance

Eight teams of six took part this year, and Capital Punishers won for the third year in a row.

Despite the event’s fun nature, participants were all keen to claim victory, Roth-Biester said.

“It gets highly competitive. ­After all, lawyers like to win.”

She said the firm generally has strong working relationships with many Operation Santa Claus ­beneficiaries and this year was no exception, citing partnerships with The Women’s Foundation, PathFinders and Outward Bound Hong Kong.

As part of the campaign, Outward Bound Hong Kong this year launched its Adaptive Journeys programme to give young physically disabled Hongkongers an opportunity to enjoy a life-changing sea kayaking expedition.

The not-for-profit organisation, founded in 1941 and based in Sai Kung, plans to coordinate the nine-day expedition for 12 people twice annually over three years.