On November 18, we at Loio hosted a webinar on sustainability practices for law firms. At this webinar, our wonderful speaker Christine Uri, a Chief Sustainability and Legal Officer at ENGIE Impact, explained why sustainability is so important for law firms today and shared some ways to make your business sustainable.
If you weren’t able to attend the event, this blog post is for you: we have collected the key insights from the webinar into this article.
- Why sustainability matters for legal businesses at all?
As our speaker Christine Uri noted, sustainability should matter to everybody on a high level. In the decade of climate change, it is something that we all need to be a part of.
More and more businesses are taking on sustainability practices such as net-zero commitments, reduction of waste, saving water, fair labor standards, or DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). And what drives them to improve their performance in this area is the pressure from investors, clients, or employees.
As a result, sustainability becomes critical for law firms to remain competitive because it is heavily demanded by their clients’ basis. Above all, sustainability also plays a big role in attracting the workforce. The millennials and Gen-Z are paying close attention to companies’ values and sustainability standards when searching for a job, so it becomes a critical factor for recruiting the best talents.
- How exactly can sustainability practices help increase law firms’ revenue?
Сhristine sees sustainability as a three-legged stool for law firms.
The first way how it can help boost a law firm’s revenue is by attracting more clients. A good sustainability track record is a great piece of marketing for law firms that would not only increase the loyalty of your current customers but make you look more appealing to your potential clients.
The second aspect is that sustainability practices can help you both hire and retain talent, which is not less important for your law firm’s success.
The third benefit of becoming sustainable is that this way you as a law firm acquire new expertise and can provide legal services in the new area. As Christine highlighted at the webinar, you’re seeing a lot of ESG coming into regulations, and more and more companies would seek legal advice on the matter of corresponding to these requirements. So, as you’re making the sustainability moves, you gain credibility to assist other companies in this area.
- What are ESG criteria and why are they a driving force for changes in the company?
ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. It is a set of non-financial performance indicators for companies. Public companies often need to report on the ESG standards, but even non-public organizations need to reckon with these criteria because a lot of the frameworks and guidelines around sustainability are based on them.
The good thing about ESG criteria is that it takes a systematic approach. Besides setting up the standards for environmental commitments, ESG has a framework that measures social mechanisms such as fair labor or DEI, and it also covers the scope of governance, which includes the corruption policies and ethics programs.
So, it is getting harder to gain new clients and top employees without having high ESG scores, and this trend is going to continue.
- How to start a sustainability program? Which steps are the first on a sustainability journey?
Our speaker Christine has distinguished six key steps to take on your sustainability journey:
- Identify your stakeholders. Those would be people in the company that are important to sustainability. If you have a sustainability officer, this person would be your stakeholder. Your stakeholders would also be your CEO, other C-level executives, operations managers, finance officers, etc. It is also great to include some of your larger clients so you could also take their perspectives into account.
- Assess risks. At this stage, you need to identify the main gap areas that could arise during your sustainability journey. This can be done either through informal discussions with your stakeholders or by conducting surveys.
- Gather data. This step basically means that you need to document all your metrics and targets. If you are a small law firm, Excel is the perfect tool for you to use at this stage, but if your organization is larger, you should consider using some advanced tech solutions.
- Develop your mitigation. This step involves developing a plan for achieving your main goal in the area of sustainability. Whether you decided to focus more on your carbon footprint or on DEI, you need to set a step-by-step plan for achieving your aims.
- Make targets and KPI. In terms of your plan, you need to define the target metrics that you will strive for. For example, you think about how you can reduce your carbon footprint, maximize the usage of your resources, or offset waste practices.
- Make transparent reports. Once you have your first metrics, you can share them with your clients by responding to their questionnaires, or by putting them on your website (enhancing your marketing strength at the same time).
Christine emphasized that this is a circular process, and it is important to go through this loop, again and again, looking at what you can improve or reconsider.
5. Are there any working tech solutions that can contribute to sustainability?
As Christine put it, tech solutions can be extremely helpful in terms of reducing the number of resources you use:
One of the first ways how a law firm can contribute to sustainability is by paper reduction. This can be done by implementing products for contract review, such as Loio
Try out Loio for free to upgrade your contract drafting experience and see how much paper you can save!
Christine also highlighted that it is important to watch how you use your hardware. There are a lot of plastic resources and plastic materials used to produce your laptops, monitors, keyboards, cellphones, and so on. So it is important to make sure you’re not overusing hardware –– for example, it might be worth not buying the latest iPhone if you’re model still works well.
Another thing Christine pointed at is the way you store your data. Even though cloud-based solutions seem to be quite environmentally friendly, you should remember that all of your data in the cloud is stored physically in giant data centers at the cost of tons of energy. So, reducing the number of files you send through the cloud, writing fewer emails, or sharing your PPT presentations via links rather than by sending files could also make a great impact on the environment.
That’s it! If you want to gain even more tips for becoming more sustainable, check out the webinar recording below:
See you at our next webinar on December 2 –– there you will learn how to choose the contract management tech that will make your law firm thrive.