The legal industry has typically lagged behind other industry sectors on environmental performance reporting, but the launch of a pilot program next month will aim to change that by establishing a legal industry benchmark for such reporting.
The program, Legal Green, is the brainchild of Guy Williams, a former principal of TDA Environmental Consulting, and now a senior consultant at Sinclair Knight Merz.
He told Lawyers Weekly this week that the idea has been workshopped with 35 law firms across the globe, but will commence in Australia with a number of local firms (to be revealed in the next edition of Lawyers Weekly). Those founding firms will form a pilot for the program over a nine-month period, with the ambition of establishing an industry benchmark for environmental reporting by the end of the year and consequently opening the program officially to national, and, potentially, international law firms.
The founding firms will determine just how such an environmental benchmark will be developed. Through conversations and research during the year, Williams believes it's likely the benchmark will include both direct and indirect performance reporting - meaning law firms may need to consider the environmental ethics of just who they are representing.
Williams said that when he took the idea of the program to law firms across the world, all were in principle in favour of coming up with some kind of consistency in the way that the legal industry can report on its environmental performance. "I asked 'If you could communicate and compare your environmental performance, would you be interested in participating?'," he said.
"Everybody said yes, because everybody had the same issues in terms of past reporting frameworks and some of them were working with large clients or financial institutions who were contacting them and asking them to report on their performance," he said.
Williams said his personal ideas for the program emerged from an initial relationship he had with Gadens Lawyers who were undertaking advice on the firm's environmental performance. From there, he started working with other law firms where he was introduced to the growing interest in law firms being able to compare their performance to other firms.
See next week's edition of Lawyers Weekly for full analysis of the launch of Legal Green.
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