Law firm offers scheme to rehabilitate people getting over psychiatric problems For four years Baker & McKenzie has demonstrated its commitment to better the community through its co-operation with the Phoenix Clubhouse Transitional Employment Scheme. Through a client contact the company followed suit of its branch offices in New York and Tokyo, which had already been involved in the scheme for a number of years. The Phoenix Clubhouse is an international accredited adult psychiatric rehabilitation service under the department of psychiatry at University of Hong Kong and Queen Mary Hospital. One of its programmes is the Transitional Employment (TE) Scheme, which helps place its members in a work environment and assists them to return to the workplace in a sympathetic environment while building their self-confidence and motivation. David Fleming, managing partner of Baker & McKenzie in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Vietnam, said the importance of work in rehabilitation could not be underestimated. 'This is an essential aspect of rehabilitation and has proved highly successful for Clubhouse members.' Under the scheme, Baker & McKenzie employs five part-time staff from the Phoenix Clubhouse. They mainly undertake administrative and marketing duties. Mr Fleming said they had the same opportunities as other staff to move on to more challenging duties if they worked well. One participant began providing administrative and operational support to the business development and marketing team. Over time her role was expanded to include involvement in preparing client seminars and other marketing activities. 'This involved internal follow-up and interaction with clients at external events, under the supervision of the marketing team,' Mr Fleming said. Members are placed in the company according to the areas of need in the organisation, rather than creating roles specifically for the Clubhouse members. The company also encourages the Phoenix members to join team activities, from regular team briefings to all firm functions, its annual family day and New Year party, for example. TE employees, in consultation with Phoenix staff, must go through the same screening, selection and matching procedures as other candidates applying for positions at Baker & McKenzie, and on selection they undergo the same induction programme as any new employee. There will also be involvement from senior staff at the Phoenix Clubhouse who act as direct supervisors, ensuring employees are comfortable with the work they undertake. Mr Fleming said while the scheme helped TE employees gain confidence and independence, other company employees also benefited. Daily interaction enabled other staff members better understand the TE employees, especially on the problems they might encounter when recovering from mental illness. 'Our employees have appreciated the opportunity to support this community engagement programme in their day to day work.' He said the firm's involvement in the scheme implemented one of Baker & McKenzie's visions of its corporate social responsibility programme, creating a positive impact in the communities that it worked and lived in.