How To Green Your Law Firm

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lawyer.jpgKnown for generating and then carrying about huge reams of papers, lawyers are increasingly looking for ways to go green. Now there is some help available.The Meritas Leadership institute just released the Green Guide For Lawyers, a best practices handbook that similar to those offered by the American Bar Association-U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (ABA-EPA) Law Office Climate Change Challenge.

This best practices handbook from the Meritas Leadership Institute was designed was a roadmap to help attorneys become more environmentally conscious. The guide is divided into three tiers of initiatives: Sustainability Advocate, Partner and Leader. Each tier contains initiatives that fall into the Triple Bottom Line categories of people, profit and planet.

As more and more companies large and small takes steps to make their businesses greener, they look more toward working with green partners. Lawyers, an integral part of any business team, are following in their footsteps. Some say it is vital to do so.

“We have a number of clients involved in green business,” said Adam Umanoff, a partner with the law firm of Chadbourne and Parke, which recently announced a corporate green initiative to curb paper consumption and tap into renewable energy. “Ignoring their concerns isn’t good business practice.”

The Green Guide For Lawyers offers tips and provides levels as a way to measure just how green a law firm is. Though the list of practices is extensive here are some excerpts from this comprehensive document.

Law firms in tier one are considered Sustainability Advocates and follow many of the practices of eco friendly businesses anywhere.

The firm adopts a sustainability mission statement.

Carpool/Public Transportation. Firm encourages and/or subsidizes workers to carpool and/or take public transportation to work.

Use reusable mugs and/or glasses. Firm does not use paper or polystyrene cups and instead offers reusable mugs and/or glasses.

Just filter it. Firm filters water instead of providing bottled water (at least not the small, “individual-sized” bottles).

Use environmentally friendly cleaning products. Firm encourages the use of environmentally friendly detergents, soaps, and other cleaning products.

Those that are in Tier Three – Sustainability Leaders go much farther.

The firm allocates X hours of pro bono services to environmental or sustainability organization(s) of its choosing.

The firm provides sustainability education for its clients and the public through including information in its newsletter, sponsoring educational events and other, directed discussions on an appropriate basis.

Firm maintains an office that is located in a LEED-certified building or successfully certifies its own office space as a LEED for Commercial Interiors space.

The firm includes a section about sustainability on its website that is accessible to the public, clients and employees.

Now perhaps, as law firms go green we’ll see fewer back problems as lawyers are no longer forced to cart around those gigantic briefcases full of paper!

Photo credit: umjanedoan at Flick’r Under Creative Commons License

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