Zeroing in on... the law firms leading the legal charge towards Net Zero

Zeroing in on... the law firms leading the legal charge towards Net Zero

The Net Zero Law Initiative offers all legal firms a tailored route map to Net Zero that has been designed by climate experts, Net Zero Now, in partnership with key players in the legal sector.  One of these is Cripps, who are among the vanguard of trailblazing firms already making serious headway in addressing their greenhouse gas emissions. 

Cripps and values go back a long way, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that the firm’s strong track record in caring about impact now includes a solid commitment to becoming a Net Zero law firm. Like so many businesses, the pandemic provided a unique time for reflection, and an opportunity to really start to drill down to the ‘why’ of its work and being. Several workshops, and internal engagement exercises later, it came out with a new purpose – to be the difference. This sees the firm using its collective energy, empathy and expertise to make a positive and long-lasting impact on people’s lives and businesses. And with the purpose came a focus on four areas – its people, clients, community and planet.

As Cripps began to explore what ‘being the difference’ could look like in respect of its planetary impacts, it came across Net Zero Now – the carbon accounting and climate action platform – which was looking for collaborators interested in building tailored carbon accounting and reduction guidance for the legal sector. They jumped at the chance and became part of the working group that would not only shape bespoke guidance for the legal sector, but also had the opportunity to draw on Net Zero Now’s expertise to accurately measure their carbon footprint and develop their own, more strategic, approach to carbon reduction. 

Cripps had already made some progress in addressing its greenhouse gas emissions, having made small, incremental improvements since moving into its Tunbridge Wells Head Office in 2018. But working with Net Zero Now enabled the firm to build capacity and knowledge, measure accurately, and establish a rigorous baseline and action plan that they felt could be communicated with confidence to colleagues, clients and other stakeholders. 

“We needed something like Net Zero Now to help us gather good data, so that rather than thinking ‘we’re already pretty good at this’ we have the data there in black and white that helps us tell that story. It’s definitely an important tool in our overall approach to what good governance and good environmental data looks like and gives us the confidence to make informed decisions about where our improvement efforts should be focused.” Liz Carter, Purpose and Impact Manager

In approaching its overall emissions, Cripps acknowledges that it already had a bit of a head start, insofar as its two offices are modern buildings that already have BREEAM ratings. But, it has already made savings approaching one tonne of carbon - mostly driven by the Workplace teams that look after the London and Kent premises. Working with the landlord, and backed by data, they have invested in a number of physical improvements to the building, including leak detection, solar panels and responsive lighting and heating systems. Meanwhile, investment in the most efficient electrical equipment and adoption of a no waste to landfill policy complement the picture of a business that is supporting its commitment to Net Zero with real action. Already, they are a long way towards realising the 30% emissions reduction by 2025 target agreed with Net Zero Now.

Their growing confidence and increased capability in addressing their own carbon footprint finds them now looking at their climate shadow and exploring ways in which they can help others to make the move to Net Zero. Cripps is in a strong position to share this growing expertise with its clients in its key sectors, where it understands the supply chains and the typical sources of carbon emissions and can provide the depth of advice on ESG matters that it is seeking to deliver. It is also driving forward a hyper-local initiative in its Tunbridge Wells home town, where it is convening a group of larger employers to address climate and community issues. Furthermore, it is one of the key voices shouting for others in the legal sector to follow their lead.

“I’d encourage any firm interested in Net Zero to just do it…and hurry up! For professional services firms the transition can be less challenging than for others, and big improvements made with relatively minimal investment. The Net Zero Law initiative and platforms like Net Zero Now are fantastic, as they enable you to take a consistent and robust approach to measurement and equip you with a clear road map for how to reduce them. Just imagine what’s possible if all firms can get on the same page.” Jo Ford, Partner

And while wanting everyone to get on board, Cripps does acknowledge that its wider purpose has provided it with a competitive advantage. It is definitely perceived as a plus point for attracting and retaining new talent – particularly younger candidates, who see the ESG credentials of a firm as being increasingly important. The firm has also won clients on the back of its approach and believes that client interest in what legal firms are doing is only growing – partly because they fall within a client’s Scope 3, but also because, increasingly, businesses want to work with professional advisers who have a similar mindset.

Cripps acknowledges that it’s made strong headway already on its journey to Net Zero, but that there remains plenty yet to be done – both internally and as an external advocate. Scope 3 emissions are now firmly in its sights, bringing areas like business and employee travel into focus. And the firm is keen to get even more colleagues on board - excited and fired up about achieving Net Zero and about its wider work inspired by purpose. Being the difference is a bold purpose. But in its rigorous, strategic approach to Net Zero, in its boundary-pushing and advocacy for better, Cripps is showing bold commitment and leadership and demonstrating how one firm can attempt to reconcile its impact on the planet, while encouraging others to do the same. 

The new Net Zero Law Initiative and the support of platforms like Net Zero Now put credible carbon reduction journeys firmly within the reach of any law firm, and provide a strong foundation for the whole legal sector to ‘be the difference’.

Watch this short film of the Cripps journey to Net Zero.

If you and your firm may be looking to start their sustainability journey then go to