Despite the announced delay in green targets, UK residents are still committed to sustainability. As consumers actively seek out sustainable businesses, many companies will be seeking solicitors in Ringwood, Reading, Rickmansworth, or wherever they live, who are making a conscious effort to go green.
In this article, we’re sharing five things to look for if you want to hire a sustainable lawyer.
A sustainable law firm is one which actively strives to make their business more environmentally friendly. A sustainable law firm is able to show evidence, including a recognised certification that it has put measures in place to reduce its energy use and carbon footprint, rather than just greenwashing i.e. making superficial gestures in order to appear sustainable.
If, like many consumers, you prefer to opt for businesses that prioritise the environment, there are a few ways that you can check if a law firm is sustainable (without resorting to rooting through their recycling bins), before going ahead and hiring them. Here, we’re going to explore some of these:
1. B Corp Certification
Your first step is to check to see if a law firm holds a B Corp Certification. This is a certificate which states that the business has achieved, and continues to achieve, a high standard of performance, accountability, and transparency when it comes to sustainability practices.
The B Corporation assesses and monitors a company’s environmental performance, as well as requiring a legal commitment to making changes throughout the corporate governance structure, including stakeholders and shareholders. When a company has achieved B Corp Certification, this will be displayed on the B Corporation website and on the law firm’s website. To date, over 1,000 UK companies hold B Corp Certification.
2. Energy Certificate
If a law firm has a physical premises – and the useful floor area of those premises measures over 500 square metres – it must have by law to display an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This certificate will show how well the company is performing in terms of its use of energy through a rating of A to G, with A being the most efficient and G being the least.
If you visit the law firm’s premises, this certificate should be prominently displayed. However, if you are not visiting, you can request to see a copy of the certificate.
3. Social media
In 2023, most reputable law firms will have a website and a social media presence. Check out the firm’s Facebook or Twitter page as this can give you a good indication on their stance on environmental issues. It’ll also afford you an opportunity to ask questions about their green policies, for example, how many of their employees work from home and how many commute each day.
This is relevant as many businesses now recognise the fact that working from home is not only beneficial to an employee’s wellbeing, but it also cuts down on emissions resulting from numerous employees driving to work five days a week.
Before hiring a law firm, it’s a good idea to ask how they will communicate with you. Within UK law, there are certain documents which do need to be printed and signed. However, if a law firm has a rigid habit of communicating with clients and third parties by letter rather than email, this can be an indication that they do not take sustainability very seriously.
Before hiring your law firm, it’s worth asking if they participate in the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing program. Founded in 1993, this program was created to encourage and advise businesses on their purchasing practices to make them more environmentally friendly. This includes anything which might be bought in order to keep the business running, and can include:
- Plastic office products
- Recycling and composting initiatives
A company which is a member of this program is showing that it takes an extremely proactive approach to doing its bit for the environment and sustainability. While there is no actual certificate for EPP which may be presented, most firms will be happy to tell you if they are or are not a member.
Over the last couple of decades, it’s become clear that it is the responsibility of every individual – and every business – to do their bit to meet UK and global targets. This includes those such as the 2050 Net Zero target, which is legally binding.
Because of this, a great number of consumers say that they will now only purchase products and services from businesses that are committed to sustainability. As we’ve shown in this article, there are some fairly easy ways that you can check out a law firm’s sustainability policies before deciding to hire them.
If such information is not immediately evident, you are perfectly within your rights to ask them about this via email or telephone before giving them the green light, and your custom.
*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
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