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HOLDING REDLICH has claimed it is the first law firm in Australia to launch a comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) service. The new service is said to be a response to what the…

HOLDING REDLICH has claimed it is the first law firm in Australia to launch a comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) service.

The new service is said to be a response to what the firm has termed a growing need for companies to implement risk management strategies to comply with the demands of regulators, industry bodies and stakeholders.

Those Holding Redlich solicitors and partners who are relevant to the service will each be called upon to work on the service when appropriate. Two partners and six solicitors will advise companies to adopt workplace practices that comply with the corporate responsibility demands they face, Holding Redlich partner Michael Linehan told Lawyers Weekly.

Although not expecting to bring in enormous amounts financially at least in the beginning, clients are increasingly approaching the firm, enquiring what they have to do to comply with the CSR principles, Linehan said. The firm has a tender at the moment for a “significant organisation”, the name of which it would not disclose.

CSR principles are increasingly being adopted by companies internationally as an important part of a “robust” corporate governance culture and risk management strategy, Linehan said. “I see CSR as an important part of any corporate governance practice. It is an issue of risk management.”

“These days, stakeholders and the community are demanding much more from organisations, and it is fast becoming clear that organisations cannot afford to stand by and let competitors define issues of management, behaviour or reputation,” Linehan said.

The notion of “sustainable development” — which demands that organisations consider their social and environmental impact as well as economic concerns — had jump started the need for companies to have more ethical corporate governance practices, the firm said.

CSR promotes transparency in the way businesses are run through strict reporting and disclosure requirements as well as improved business practices, Linehan said.

Organisations and corporations that commit to implementing a CSR strategy could expect to see improved corporate image and brand value, reduction of risk, improved customer loyalty, and access to ethical and socially responsible investment capital, he said.

“CSR issues have now been [put] firmly in place on the corporate governance radar,” said Linehan. “A high-profile CSR failure can be catastrophic, leading to irreparable brand damage and potential liability for a company and its directors.”

Many people believe CSR deals primarily with environmental issues and eradicating labour exploitation, according to Linehan. But, he said, “it actually has a much broader application”.

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