find the latest legal job
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Legal Inhouse / Lawyer / Company Secretary
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Fantastic Company · Potential to be Part Time / Flexible Work Pattern
View details
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Emissions fall with lower headcount

Emissions fall with lower headcount

Law firms in Australia are getting greener, with reductions in staff numbers helping firms to meet environmental targets.

Late 4 December, the annual Australian Legal Sector Alliance (AusLSA) report was released. The report details the environmental performance of 32 of the 40 law firm members of AusLSA.

In FY14, there was a 10 per cent reduction in total emissions from FY13. Despite more modest reductions in the three key performance areas of electricity (7 per cent), flights and travel (4 per cent) and paper (2 per cent), reporting firms were able to collectively achieve a double-digit reduction due to a 280 per cent increase in carbon offsets purchased by reporting firms. This reduced total carbon emissions by 20 per cent.

Electricity was the largest source of emissions (60 per cent), followed by business travel (38 per cent) and paper (2 per cent).

There was a 2 per cent decrease in the headcount of the 32 reporting firms, with an even greater headcount reduction of 9 per cent amongst the 8 executive member firms.

The executive member firms are Clayton Utz, DLA Piper, Maddocks, Henry Davis York, Jackson McDonald, McCullough Robertson, Norton Rose Fulbright and Swaab Attorneys.

Executive firm members including Henry Davis York and Norton Rose Fulbright rolled out formal redundancy programs in FY14, while some of the other firms, including McCullough Robertson, Clayton Utz and DLA Piper lost a number of junior and senior lawyers in the past financial year.

“The changing face of the legal marketplace in Australia has continued to provide challenging times for law firms,” Stuart Clark, chair of AusLSA and a senior partner at Clayton Utz, wrote in the report.

“Firms have had to adapt to these changes in order to keep their business models sustainable.”

The report also states that a decrease in travel is most likely attributed to a downturn in the legal market.


The bigger the firm, the bigger the footprint

Unsurprisingly, global firms in Australia were responsible for the greatest volumes of emissions.

Norton Rose Fulbright had the largest volume of gross emissions per head, with 8.70 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO₂e).

“International travel contributes significantly to the firm’s overall environmental impact and ways to reduce these impacts are being actively reviewed by the Environmental Sustainability Working Group,” said NRF in the report.

The next largest emitters were Ashurst (7.32 tCO₂e), Allens (6.36 tCO₂e), King & Wood Mallesons (5.73 tCO₂e) and Herbert Smith Freehills (5.56 tCO₂e).

Conversely, small firms showed the best performances, when measured by gross emissions per person. Coleman Greig, Cooper Grace Ward, McInnes Wilson Lawyers, Jackson McDonald and Hall & Wilcox were the lowest emitting firms based on this yardstick.

AusLSA has flagged that it will seek to broaden its agenda to include “other pillars of sustainability”, such as social and governance issues, in future reports.

Areas AusLSA is looking to provide data on in the future include pro bono work, diversity and inclusion, flexible work practices and mentoring.

The report was formally launched at the Sydney office of Norton Rose Fulbright on the evening of 4 December.

Even though 32 firms contributed to the analysis, two of those firms declined to publicly release the details of their environmental performance. AusLSA refused to divulge who those two firms were when approached by Lawyers Weekly.


The 30 AusLSA law firm members that publicly provided a breakdown of their environmental performance are:

Henry Davis York

Clayton Utz


Norton Rose Fulbright Australia

DLA Piper

McCullough Robertson

Swaab Attorneys

Jackson McDonald

King & Wood Mallesons

Russell Kennedy

Hall & Wilcox


Lander & Rogers

Allens Linklaters

Coleman Greig

FB Rice

Hunt & Hunt

Cooper Grace Ward

Minter Ellison

Cornwall Stodart

Kemp Strang

Corrs Chambers Westgarth

McInnes Wilson

Carroll & O’Dea

Wotton + Kearney


Herbert Smith Freehills

Sparke Helmore

Gilbert + Tobin

Harwood Andrews

Non-publicly reporting firms are:

Stacks, the Law Firm

Holding Redlich


Holman Webb

Dibbs Barker

TressCox Laywers

Baker & McKenzie

Allen & Overy

Slater & Gordon

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Emissions fall with lower headcount
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA welcomes religious freedom panel
LCA welcomes religious freedom panel
The Law Council of Australia says the establishment of a panel which will examine the human right to...
Law Society launched a new website, legal politics and lawmaking
Law Society launches project to engage young Aussies
The Law Society of NSW has launched a new website to engage young Australians in legal politics and ...
recognised for human rights work
LexisNexis executive recognised for human rights work
A LexisNexis executive has been announced as a finalist in a global awards program for women in busi...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...