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Law firms should care about environmental sustainability.

Thursday, October 24, 2013   (0 Comments)
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Law firms should care about environmental sustainability. 

by Carrie O Titus, Esq. 

Environmental concern has steadily increased over the past 10 years, but most law firms have done little to recognize the importance of environmental sustainability. Law firms mandate pro bono programs, participate in charity events, offer volunteer hours, and hold holiday fundraisers but do little to promote protecting the environment. As a participant in the community, a leader in society, and having a duty to represent our clients and their best interests should we not also be forced to be cognizant of what we can do for the environment?

While some of the St. Louis area law firms have programs to lower their carbon footprint many have realized that it is not easy to start sustainability programs. Looking too big with no real goal can be a deterrent for many firms. If you are just starting a program at your firm keep in mind that being green can be as easy as implementing a firm-wide recycling program or using a business partner who offers services focused on recycling and reusing. The cost and time associated with researching and starting these programs may be challenging for many firms so try starting small to achieve a higher rate participation from your firm.

Starting a sustainability program is best done by first forming a sustainability or green committee. Including someone from your environmental practice and adding several attorneys to the committee will add to the credibility and buy-in of the rest of your firm. Be sure that the committee only consists of individuals who will be true leaders in the green initiative. Once the committee is formed there are many ways to limit the environmental impact of your firm’s employees, but educating your office on what is being done and why must occur first. Use every opportunity available to inform your employees of the changes and why they are being implemented. The more information people have on the why behind the actions the better chance they will follow the lead of the sustainability committee. 

Easy ways to start lowering your firm’s carbon footprint:
•Using energy smart light bulbs
•Buying energy star office, kitchen and electronic equipment
•Repurpose old office furniture and supplies
•Recycle old equipment, batteries, toner cartridges, bottles, cans, paper, etc. 
•Adding recycling bins to each office and meeting space
•Using only recycled paper
•Make double side copies
•Set-up copiers and computers to go to sleep mode after 10 minutes of inactivity
•Limit printed emails
•Distribute all internal memos and faxes electronically
•Reduce business travel
•Promote staying at environmentally friendly hotels
•Promote carpooling or using public transportation through subsidies and reimbursements
•Limit paper and Styrofoam cups in your office

•Use filtered water as opposed to bottled water

The ABA encourages law firms to conserve energy and think about the environmental impact of your day- to-day practice as well. Law firms can participate in the ABA –EPA Law Office Climate Challenge by undertaking several best practices for conserving energy.

St. Louis area firms currently recognized through the ABA Challenge are: 
•Bryan Cave LLP
•Greensfelder Hemker & Gale, P.C.
•Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen
•Littler Mendelson, P.C.
•Thompson Coburn LLP

For more information go to

Carrie Titus is an attorney and is Director of Sales and Marketing at PohlmanUSA Court Reporting. She can be reached at 

The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis | 555 Washington Avenue, Suite 100 | St. Louis, MO 63101-1249 | (314) 421-4134 | Fax: (314) 421-0013

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