10 years of Legal Sustainability Alliance sees UK leading law firms cut carbon and costs

A network of leading UK law firms set up 10 years ago to take collective action on climate change is celebrating success having achieved significant cuts in carbon emissions and costs.

The Legal Sustainability Alliance (LSA), which counts top law firms Linklaters, DLA Piper International, Allen & Overy, Norton Rose Fulbright and Slaughter & May, among its members, released its 10th Anniversary Annual Report today. It shows these and other law firms that have been reporting their carbon data to the LSA reduced their emissions by an average 15% per capita (per person) since reporting began in 2009, amounting to a cost saving of £148 per employee.

The findings are based on data from 57 firms, which together employ over 54000 people. It shows an overall drop in total emissions, with carbon emissions reductions from real estate electricity falling by 27% per capita and from natural gas by 36% per capita. Paper use and water use also fell. The only area where carbon emissions increased was in air travel (50% average increase per employee).

The LSA findings join a chorus of business reaction supporting continued action on climate change in the face of US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord last week.

Jeff Twentyman chair LSA, and a senior partner at Slaughter & May, said: “Sustainable business makes sense for our firm. Not only does it benefit the environment we see measurable, financial benefits for the business. The challenge for the LSA as we celebrate our 10th Anniversary is we need to reach a wider audience within the legal sector. We need more firms to commit and take action particularly to tackle the difficult issue of business travel, encouraging people to think and behave differently so as not to undermine reductions achieved elsewhere.”

The LSA 10th Anniversary Report provides both a review of the previous decade, highlighting the successes and initiatives of some its 120 members, as well as throwing down a challenge to the whole legal sector to be more proactive in responding to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the opportunities of the circular economy and the need to support and guide clients towards sustainable business practices.

“The Legal profession has a critical role to play in the fight to combat climate change, which I believe to be the greatest challenge of our time,” David W Rifkin, co-chair, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP International Dispute Resolution Group and immediate past president, International Bar Association, says in the LSA report.

Following the launch of its Annual Report, the LSA will be holding a series of free nationwide workshops in partnership with The Planet Mark™, to make the business case for sustainability to the legal profession. Aimed specifically at smaller and medium-sized firms, the first workshop will be held in Bristol on June 9, followed by another in Leeds on June 15. More are planned later in the year.

Steve Malkin, CEO of Planet First and founder of The Planet Mark™, said: “Sustainability programmes are really about good business practice. Doing the right thing delivers fast and far-reaching positive impacts on society, the environment and profitability. These specialist workshops gather the latest expertise and are a must-attend for practices across the UK.”

The LSA and The Planet Mark™ have also teamed up on a 30 -page practical guide on how to embed sustainability for law firms, which will be available for download from June 9 from The Planet Mark™ and LSA websites.

For copies of the LSA 10th Anniversary Report or for more information about the workshops visit Legalsustainabilityalliance.com.

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