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Why Your Law Firm Needs to Get on Board with Sustainability (or Get Left Behind)

Listen up, lawyers! With your clients now demanding that their legal partners take a stance on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters, law firms that fail to implement a sustainability strategy risk losing their competitive advantage. You’re not going to be one of them if you’re here! In this article, we explore the compelling business case for sustainability in the legal industry and suggest a powerful step towards achieving it: becoming a Pure Air Zone.

The rise of sustainability in law firms: why it's time to take notice

The concept of sustainability has gained traction in recent years. The legal industry is not exempt from this trend. Let’s take a look at some facts.

  • In a survey conducted by the Law Society Gazette, 82% of respondents said that they would like to see more law firms prioritising sustainability.

  • Collaboration initiatives in the legal field with the topic of sustainability are multiplying. An example is Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy, an initiative launched in part by Stanford Law School in 2018, that pairs participating firms with sustainability-focused entrepreneurs and nonprofits that need pro bono legal services.

  • Many law firms are opening new branches to give advice on sustainability-related matters. Linklaters is a global law firm with a dedicated sustainability team that provides legal advice on various environmental and social issues. In 2020, the firm also launched a new service called "Sustainable Finance and Investment," which focuses on advising clients on sustainable financing and investment opportunities.

  • Other firms, such as Norton Rose Fulbright have implemented a number of initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainable practices within the firm, ending up being recognised for their efforts in this area, including being named to the FTSE4Good Index for the 11th year in a row.

  • Legal organisations are not totally new to sustainability reporting: for example, Gianni & Origoni was the first in Italy to publish a social report that includes the ESG sustainability strategy and has created a 360-degree coverage plan covering environment, people, and governance through the GOP Cares project.

You might think a collective environmental consciousness is building up. Hopefully. But there’s a different reason for the sustainability imperative for law firms: those who fail to prioritise sustainability may be left behind in terms of attracting investment and clients.

6 (at least) benefits of sustainability for law firms

Implementing a sustainability strategy can bring important competitive advantages to law firms, including the following benefits.

Attracting and retaining clients

Clients are increasingly looking for law firms that prioritise sustainability. In a survey conducted by the Legal Sustainability Alliance, 72% of respondents said that they would be more likely to use a law firm that can demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.

Attracting and retaining talents

Younger generations are increasingly concerned about environmental issues, and are more likely to want to work for companies that prioritise sustainability. It takes a long time to turn junior legal trainees into mature consultants. Why lose them after so much effort and money and time invested?

Opening new markets

Law firms can open new branches consulting on environmental-related topics and projects. Read the next paragraph for some references.

Reducing costs

By reducing their environmental impact, law firms can also reduce their costs. For example, implementing energy-efficient lighting and equipment can lead to significant savings on energy bills.