Whose Grass Is Greener?: How environmental policies became a differentiator for law firms

January 19, 2022


2 min read

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What's going on here?

Eco-friendly practices are rising up the agenda for law firms in 2022, as sustainability becomes a hot topic on young people’s minds and firm’s policies are rated by trainees.

What does this mean?

A recent survey by Legal Cheek has judged law firms on their eco-friendly policies, as well as factors such as pay and average leave time. The category of sustainability may indicate that environmental policies are a potential factor in young people’s minds when thinking about their careers in law.

What's the big picture effect?

Over the last two years, the environmental chaos that has become a regular front page feature of the news has been increasingly hard to avoid. COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference which took place last year, solidified the urgency for global leaders to take action. However, sustainability has not always been high on the corporate agenda for businesses and law firms. This is now changing.

So what does this mean for law firms going forward? A survey by Deloitte Insights in January 2020 indicated that environmental policies are now a key factor on business leaders’ agenda for their company, in order to cater to changing sentiment in society at large and their customers. Law firms are no different – in the past few years adopting sustainable practices has been an increasing feature of law firms’ brand. What this looks like varies, for some it has been adopting increasingly paperless policies, whilst other firms have adopted sustainable practices through attempting to push towards net zero.

Ultimately, it will remain to be seen if these policies have genuine impact. However, what they do show now is that law firms value the idea of creating an environmentally-friendly image for themselves, and this plays a part in how they attract talent and business. As an example, Allen & Overy cites the expectations of clients and employees as the key driver for the firm taking proactive action to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030. Much like investment funds, who have begun to avoid investment in carbon-intensive stocks, a law firm must also be shown to be ethical and keen to take action against the climate crisis. 

In the increasingly competitive legal world, defining a firm through its sustainability policies might just be the way to get one step ahead of other firms. Would you pick a firm for its sustainability?

Report written by Iris Best

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