[Law Firm Climate Scorecard]...students gave each firm a letter grade from “A” to “F.” The more work on behalf of fossil fuel companies, the worse the grade. Taking on renewable energy producers as clients could improve a law firm’s score.
The results: Thirty-six of the top 100 law firms received failing grades. Thirty-four squeaked through with a “D,” meaning more than two-thirds of the firms couldn’t even manage a “C.” Just three firms received “A” grades, and none earned an “A+.”
“These are well-resourced firms. They’re attracting top talent,” said Michaela Anang, a law student at UC Davis and lead researcher on the report. “We are thinking about how we can be part of the conversation about accountability.”
Prestigious law firms undoubtedly add to their considerable wealth when they take on fossil fuel giants as clients. The question is whether they share responsibility for the enormous climate damage and air pollution these companies cause.
“Who else but attorneys are so aptly placed to advise fossil fuel clients as to what’s coming, and how to transition?” asked Gayatri Joshi, executive director of the Law Firm Sustainability Network.
Joshi works with dozens of law firms to reduce their environmental footprints, including some in the Vault 100. Her group has its own assessment tool focused on what firms are doing in areas such as energy efficiency, water conservation, limiting travel and supporting sustainability through volunteer work. It doesn’t judge firms based on their clients, but Joshi says that’s a topic veteran attorneys are talking about — especially as law students and young lawyers seek out socially responsible workplaces.
“What makes sense? Do you drop a client? Do you transition a client into different ways of doing things, preparing them for what’s to come within the marketplace?” Joshi asked. “These conversations are happening.”...
United Nations’ scientists warned earlier this month that a certain amount of global warming is now inevitable, saying that swift and deep emissions cuts are necessary to prevent a climate cataclysm.
While government policies will have the biggest role in responding to the crisis, large businesses—including law firms—are in a position to make a difference. That might be even easier at this particular moment, as firms are applying lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to reevaluate how they perform legal work...
“The practice of law is a very human thing, and I think lawyers want to connect with their clients,” said Beveridge & Diamond principal Brook Detterman, who is president of the board of the Law Firm Sustainability Network. “We do want to sit down face to face when it makes sense to do so.”
But this travel is responsible for a significant amount of firms’ carbon footprint...
...like most law firms, the vast majority of [DLA Piper's] emissions fall into Scope 3: indirect emissions generated from business activity. This broad category encompassed 95% of DLA Piper’s emissions...27% were attributed to business travel.
At Freshfields Bruckhaus & Deringer, travel reduction has been an aim since before the arrival of COVID-19. In 2016, the firm set (and exceeded) a goal of cutting travel by 10% by 2020. Part of that has been motivated by environmental considerations, but it’s also motivated by client service priorities.
Clients’ own preferences, including their sustainability concerns, are increasingly likely to inform how their law firms approach travel. Pamela Cone, founder and CEO of Amity Advisory, is hearing general counsel lose interest in seeing their outside counsel as frequently as they once did.
“They’re not eager to get back to the type of travel that used to be expected, even if lawyers say, ‘We have to,’” she said.
Law firms qualify as part of clients’ supply chains, and this gives corporations aiming to comply with the GHG Protocol another reason to push back against their lawyers’ travel. Global insurance giant Swiss Re has recently acted to raise its internal carbon tax from $8 per ton to $100 per ton, with a roadmap to increasing to $200 per ton by 2030. That figure represents the amount the company charges itself in order to account for activities that generate carbon emissions.
“If a law firm goes to visit Swiss Re, that department they’re visiting is going to have to eat the carbon tax or charge it back to the lawyers,” Cone said.
Some environmentally minded lawyers and law firm staff, particularly those living in regions of the U.S. with limited public transit, might feel gratified that they’ve eliminated the impact of commuting to the office during the pandemic. But as firms explore and embrace hybrid work policies, sustainability concerns are largely absent from the conversation. And that’s likely for valid reasons.
“That shift is driven more by consideration of demographics and attraction and retention of talent than sustainability,” said Detterman at Beveridge & Diamond. “I would think that office space and flying are much greater, as a chunk of footprint.”
Before the start of the pandemic, Chapman & Cutler made the decision in 2019 to move its Chicago headquarters for the first time, after a century in the same building. An analysis of card swipes showed leadership that the spaced was used at 60% to 70% of capacity, on average. The new office—adjacent to several transit hubs—will be 40% smaller than the present one.
“Certainly the reduction of our carbon footprint was a factor in the selection of the building, as well as the design of the space,” said chief operating partner Bill Libit, who also leads the firm’s social Impact and sustainability task force.
Getting smaller and more energy efficient was a prescient move. But the clearest benefits of “agile work,” as the firm is calling it, are bound to be less in reducing emissions and more in securing and holding onto talent. That lines up with a call from Detterman to alight on a wider understanding of sustainability.
“Sustainability is a broad word, and there are lots of lenses through which to view it,” he said. “Travel is one, commuting is one, and what learned in the last year is that there are others. Human capital has got to be considered part of the issue.”
LFSN – September 10, 2019
NEW YORK CITY – January 7, 2019
Today, the Law Firm Sustainability Network (LFSN) together with Amity Advisory, released their “CSR & Sustainability -- Current State of the Legal Industry” report for 2018. The report, based on a survey of more than 50 law firms, finds the majority of firms (64%) believe that the 2-3 year outlook for law firm sustainability programs is positive. An overwhelming majority have seen positive effects of their program in areas such as employee morale (74%) and some are starting to see it with revenue (22%).
“The report validates for us what we have been seeing in our law firm. Our firm started addressing sustainability many years ago based on our firm’s values. Our clients and employees believe sustainability is important, and we have seen positive results from our efforts,” said Mary McGuire, Chief Administrative Officer of Nixon Peabody.
The report also identifies success factors and challenges to developing sustainability programs. Most believe senior executive support is an important success factor (80%) and the most-cited challenge is engaging employees and firm leadership (84%). Firms also cited paper initiatives, including going paperless and increased recycled content (21%) and energy efficiency and conservation (21%) as their first-rank wish list projects.
The LFSN works with its member firms to promote sustainability throughout the legal industry. One of the LFSN’s signature initiatives is the American Legal Industry Sustainability Standard (ALISS), an on-line self-assessment tool that serves both as a roadmap of best practices and an objective measure of a firm’s sustainability efforts.
“We believe the report and survey results underscore the importance of ALISS as a tool to help firms get more positive results from, and overcome challenges with, their sustainability programs,” said Dan Krainin, President of LFSN and Principal at Beveridge & Diamond P.C.
“So many firms focus only on their Pro Bono programs and Diversity & Inclusion efforts when telling their Corporate Social Responsibility story. Sustainability is an increasingly important component of a law firm’s holistic CSR program – and clients are starting to ask questions about firms’ efforts in this area,” added Pamela Cone, Founder & CEO of Amity Advisory.
On January 16 at 12 EST, Gayatri Joshi of the LFSN and Pamela Cone of Amity Advisory will be presenting the results of the survey and sharing case studies and trends around social responsibility and sustainability in the legal industry. Register for the webinar here.
CSR & Sustainability Legal Industry Report
With 53 respondents representing law firms from the AmLaw 100 to small, regional and boutique firms, the report explores the extent to which law firms consider corporate social responsibility and sustainability to be important and identifies success factors and challenges in furthering law firm CSR and sustainability program efforts.
Law Firm Sustainability Network
The Law Firm Sustainability Network is a nonprofit organization made up of law firms and legal departments committed to promoting the benefits of environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility within their firms and throughout the legal industry.
Amity Advisory provides social responsibility and sustainability consulting for legal and professional service firms, helping firms achieve holistic, compelling and profitable social impact. Amity Advisory helps firms embrace this emerging trend and differentiate their firm via their CSR program and approach.
September 12, 2017 – The Law Firm Sustainability Network (LFSN), the leading U.S.-based organization dedicated to promoting environmental sustainability among law firms, has released the findings on its first round of American Legal Industry Sustainability Standard (ALISS) online self-assessments. ALISS allows firms to objectively track and measure their sustainability efforts; provides a roadmap of additional steps firms may wish to take to reduce their environmental impact; and provides a ranking of how firms are doing on sustainability.
The 15 law firms, representing over 70 offices, that have completed ALISS, include the LFSN Leadership Council firms Beveridge & Diamond; Blank Rome; Nixon Peabody; Seyfarth Shaw; and Wendel Rosen, as well as LFSN member firms Alston & Bird; Brand Geek; Chambliss; Fried Frank; Hunton & Williams; Kirkland & Ellis; Ladiere McNair; Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox; Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg; and Ward and Smith.
ALISS is a self-assessment tool that awards weighted points for various activities covering five broad categories: Internal Sustainability, External Sustainability, Stakeholder Engagement, Measuring & Reporting, and Innovation. Based on the total number of points received through the ALISS self-assessment, participating firms achieve award level recognitions.
“ALISS was designed to help law firms improve their environmental performance in every aspect of their operations. It provides recognition to firms that are already making significant sustainability efforts, and concrete ideas for additional steps that firms may wish to take,” said Daniel Krainin, President of the LFSN and a Principal at Beveridge & Diamond.
The LFSN’s ALISS Key Insights Summary Report demonstrates how firms are taking action:
“Firms that have completed ALISS have created a baseline of law firm sustainability programs, which will allow them to measure their progress over time, and have also received concrete ideas from other member firms as to how they may strengthen their programs. We encourage all law firms to take the ALISS assessment and learn how they can further reduce their environmental impacts,” said Kevin Bruno, LSFN Treasurer and Blank Rome partner.
About ALISS: ALISS is an online self-assessment tool designed to measure aspects of sustainability that are meaningful to law firms while also being detailed enough to identify specific areas of strength and opportunities for improvement for each participating firm. ALISS was created by the LFSN and ecoAnalyze, LLC. A detailed Key Insights Report is available to ALISS Participants.
About LFSN: The Law Firm Sustainability Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose membership includes many of the top U.S. law firms committed to promoting environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility throughout the legal industry. The LFSN’s mission is to develop key performance indicators, foster knowledge-sharing, develop best practice guidelines, and recognize and promote sustainability innovations in the U.S. legal sector.
For further information, please visit www.lfsnetwork.org
Gayatri Joshi, Executive Director, Law Firm Sustainability Network T: 732.309.2946 E: email@example.com
by LFSN | Law Firm Sustainability Network (LFSN)
April 20, 2015 – The Law Firm Sustainability Network (LFSN) has launched the American Legal Industry Sustainability Standard (ALISS), an online self-assessment tool that measures law firms’ environmental sustainability. ALISS allows law offices to take stock of their efforts to promote energy efficiency, conservation of energy and resources, recycling, and related measures, and to identify opportunities to enhance their sustainability programs and practices.
ALISS is currently in the pilot phase of its launch, with 12 law firms now in the process of completing their sustainability self-assessments. Those participating in the ALISS pilot include the LFSN Leadership Council firms Alston & Bird; Beveridge & Diamond; Blank Rome; Nixon Peabody; Seyfarth Shaw; and Wendel Rosen, as well as LFSN law firm members Kirkland & Ellis; Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox; Morrison Foerster; Paul Hastings; Pillsbury; and Robins Kaplan. Following completion of the pilot in April, the LFSN will make ALISS available to all of its members in May.
“We’re very excited about the launch of ALISS, and we encourage all firms to participate. We believe it’s important for firms to gain recognition for the good work they’re already doing and at the same time provide guidance on additional steps they could be taking. We believe that ALISS accomplishes both of these goals.” says Peter Masaitis, co-President of the LFSN and partner at Alston & Bird.
The ALISS system is designed to measure aspects of sustainability that are meaningful to law firms while also being transparent, simple to complete, flexible and dynamic. ALISS is an honor-based self-assessment tool that is intended to be detailed enough to identify specific areas of strength and opportunities for improvement for each participating firm. ALISS was developed by a group of LFSN member firms based on their review and assessment of sustainability best practices in the law office setting.
The ALISS system awards weighted points for various activities covering five broad categories: Internal Sustainability, External Sustainability, Stakeholder Engagement, Measuring & Reporting, and Innovation. Each of these categories is further broken down into sustainability topics, such as Policy, Energy & Utilities, Volunteerism, etc. Based on the number of points they receive through the ALISS self-assessment, participating firms will be awarded an ALISS Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze or Reporter designation. The point system allows for flexibility in measuring a law firm’s sustainability activities while ensuring that firms will only achieve Awards through the implementation of significant sustainability programs.
Dan Krainin, co-President of the LFSN and principal at Beveridge & Diamond, said, “The launch of ALISS is an important step in law firm sustainability and reducing environmental impacts within the legal profession. We believe that the significant work LFSN members have put in to the development of ALISS has resulted not only in a valuable tool but also a potentially transformative one.”
The LFSN is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose membership includes many of the top U.S. law firms and legal departments committed to promoting the benefits of environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility throughout the legal industry. The LFSN’s mission is to develop key performance indicators, foster knowledge-sharing, develop best practice guidelines, and recognize and promote sustainability innovations in the U.S. legal sector.
For further information, please visit www.lfsnetwork.org Gayatri Joshi, Executive Director, Law Firm Sustainability Network T: 732.309.2946 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Gayatri Joshi
The signatories of the Vision are NGO member organizations of the Environmental Paper Network, and are known collectively for their successful efforts moving the marketplace to more sustainable products, securing improved forestry practices by the world’s largest paper companies, and accelerating the transformation of the entire industry over the past decade. The new single Vision harmonizes several regional vision statements for industry reform around the world into a more coordinated effort.
This blueprint for change addresses the priorities for social responsibility and environmental conservation in response to a projected doubling of global paper consumption in the next thirty years and the industry’s influence on biodiversity, forest health, global warming, air and water quality, and local communities.
The new Global Paper Vision identifies seven common goals among the organizations that are key objectives for change: reducing consumption; maximizing recycled content; ensuring social responsibility; sourcing fiber responsibly; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; ensuring clean production; and ensuring transparency.
“The Global Paper Vision is the unification of an influential global movement,” said Joshua Martin, Director of the Environmental Paper Network. “From today forward, we are all going to be asking at every level, all over the world, ‘what’s in your paper?’ and challenging the industry and consumers to commit to ambitious and bold actions that protect people and the planet.”
You can help achieve this change by showing your support:
1. Sign the pledge to be part of the solutions: www.environmentalpaper.org/pledge.
2. Share a message on facebook/twitter today using the tag #whatsinyourpaper such as: One ordinary product, one extraordinary way to protect air, water, forests, climate and communities. #WhatsInYourPaper http://thndr.it/1kzhhLL
3. Choose to buy responsibly sourced paper products and choose to do business with companies that do also.
For the LFSN page/video: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/7bb8f268#/7bb8f268/19
For the Seyfarth Shaw full report: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/7bb8f268#/7bb8f268/1
by Joe Dysart | ABA Journal
Going green at a law firm —with just a bit of persistent discipline—tends to become a way of being.
Take the Law Firm Sustainability Network, a growing group of environmentally conscious law firms that have discovered thinking and acting green tends to engender ever more Earth-friendly tactics.
Originating from a dozen or so law firms in 2011, the network now counts more than 30 registered members and is looking to become the go-to source for all things sustainable in the legal industry.
"For many of the LFSN member firms that participated in the pilot run of the program, it was an eye-opener to see how many different initiatives could be taken on with little additional effort," says Peter Masaitis, network president and a partner at Alston & Bird based in Los Angeles.
by Lydia Bednerik | ALA East Bay Chapter
by Mary Pat Gallagher | New Jersey Law Journal
by Nadia Wagner & Gayatri Joshi | ALA New York Chapter
by Boston Bar | The Sustainable Lawyer
by Patricia Daddona | Providence Business News
New Hampshire Business Review
by Sue Altmeyer
by Meredith Hobbs
by Brittany Sims | TheChattanoogan.com
Hamilton County Herald
by Kylie Reynolds
by Mark D. Shifton | Green Building/Construction Law
by Mica Rosenberg | Reuters Legal
by Richard Craver | Winston-Salem Journal
by Andrew Stickler | Law360
by The Law Firm Sustainability Network
by Cameron Scott | California Lawyer
Just shy of 50 firms - including big names in California like Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Morgan Lewis & Bockius; and Morrison & Foerster - participate in monthly calls the network organizes to review sustainability case studies and troubleshoot for one another.
The firms involved are motivated by prospective clients that pressure them to vouch for their environmental practices in addition to their billable hours, says Gayatri Joshi, vice president of client management at ecoAnalyze, the New York-based consultancy that administers the network.
"People want to work for a firm that represents their beliefs and their cultures, and clients are the same way," she says.
Discussion topics include carbon emissions, sustainable design, and initiatives that have succeeded at various firms.
Time is a major consideration for legal practices that want to go green, says Linda F. Magyar, the administrator at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman's office in Sacramento, which participates in the network. "When we talk about sustainability, we also talk about human energy. We try to find things that are reasonable to ask very busy people to do," Magyar says.Meanwhile, the Law Firm Sustainability Network is developing a voluntary sustainability rating system based loosely on the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Office facilities and practices will be assessed by the American Legal Industry Sustainability Standards in a rating system to be made public this winter.
Of Counsel Magazine
The Environmental Forum Magazine
by The Law Firm Sustainability Network
Earth Hour and Earth Day are celebrated by hundreds of millions of people and businesses worldwide, and the following firm's are proud to support them:
The New York Law Journal