Law takes climate action into its own hands

Law takes climate action into its own hands

Eight UK law firms have signed up to The Net Zero Law Initiative and are following tailored steps that will take them from calculating their first carbon footprint all the way to becoming certified Net Zero. They are now calling on other legal firms to get on board.

The Net Zero Law Initiative was developed specifically for law firms by Net Zero Now in collaboration with leading figures from academia and the legal sector, including lawyers for net zero. It’s designed to be a roadmap to Net Zero that enables firms to accurately measure and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, using tailored reduction plans aligned to the latest global climate science. 

Having embarked upon their carbon reduction journeys, the pioneering firms are now calling on the wider legal sector to get on board. The firms, which include Cripps, Hill Dickinson, Mills & Reeve and Mishcon de Reya, have set ambitious targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent over the next five years to help fight the global climate crisis. 

Net Zero Now calculates that, if all UK law firms did respond to the call and signed up to the Initiative, the emissions of the legal profession could be reduced by as much as 400,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions over five years1. Alongside emissions reduction, commitment to becoming Net Zero also enables them to unlock multiple business benefits including reduced costs, increased client engagement and motivated staff.

Carbon accounting no longer optional

Large companies are now required to report on emissions in their value chain, making it increasingly important for law firms to be able to account for and report their own emissions if they want to win big business. Firms who sign up for the Net Zero Law Initiative will have access to the Net Zero Now platform, which takes much of the heavy lifting out of calculating total emissions, generates targeted plans for carbon reduction and enables them to benchmark their emissions.

David Rothera, Head of Business Development at Net Zero Now, said: “Law firms have a huge influence on the way we do business in the UK, advising senior leaders and influencing critical business decisions. By showing that they take the transition to a more planet-positive future seriously, these law firms are leading the way for the entire sector, and our wider economy, to take action. Net Zero Now exists to fight the climate crisis and boost business success – our experience across multiple sectors shows the two go hand in hand.  Law firms that join this important Initiative can help attract and retain staff, reduce costs and meet the increasing demand for clients for law firms who are aligned with their own climate commitments.”

Jessica Wilkes-Ball, Senior Sustainability Manager at Mills & Reeve said: “The Net Zero Law Initiative is a masterclass in collaboration! By being early adopters, we were given the opportunity to suggest positive amendments which will support and enhance personalised emissions reporting and a tailored reductions plan, and provide a universal pathway for all law firms to start their Net Zero journey. Collaboration not competition is the only way in which we’ll achieve our collective goals of reaching Net Zero.”

Joanna Ford, Partner at Cripps, said: “The wide lens of environmental and social sustainability is integral to the future of the legal sector as we learn to adapt to our clients’ needs and upskill our profession to find legal solutions to these important issues. The Initiative has helped us understand our carbon emissions and the areas we can and need to focus on to enable further reduction.  We are now working on embedding measurable and targeted actions to meet an ambitious yet achievable date to become a fully Net Zero business. We would encourage other businesses to get on board. It is easier for legal firms than you might think, and provides lots of food for thought and ideas to become more sustainable.”

Jasmine Henricson, Sustainability Manager at Mishcon de Reya LLP said: "Participating in the Net Zero Law Initiative marks a significant step in Mishcon de Reya's commitment to decarbonization and the development of a robust carbon reduction plan to achieve Net Zero emissions. Our objectives include enhancing our sustainability impact, elevating reporting standards, and fostering collaboration to drive innovation across the legal sector and we have already transitioned to 100% renewable energy in our London offices and integrated nature-based carbon capture to address unavoidable emissions. We look forward to working collaboratively across the legal sector to create a greener, more sustainable world."

MSB Solicitors said: “A big thank you to Net Zero Now for working with us on this pilot. MSB is a progressive modern law firm. Once a high street solicitors, we’re now a regional law firm with a strong North West presence and a commitment to ESG. We acknowledge our responsibiity to the community, and how we impact the environment. We’re committed to leading the way in sustainable practice. This is just the start!

Tas Quayum, COO at Hill Dickinson said: “Like all businesses committed to making our business more sustainable, we are all too aware that the journey is long and that understanding our own impact is a vital first step. By signing up to the Net Zero Law Initiative, we will share best practice and help make the legal sector publicly accountable for its actions and efforts in this regard. In the past 12 months, we have set up an ESG Board and dedicated working groups to lead the charge within Hill Dickinson. We have also published our Carbon Reduction Plan, outlining the initiatives we will deliver on and are already progressing.

Cartridges Law said: “No matter how hard it seems, no matter how complicated, the important thing is to get started. The rest will follow.”

Sebastian Charles Director of Aardvark Planning Law said: “As a boutique law firm operating in the planning and environmental space, we wanted to underscore to our clients our understanding of net zero issues as well as making sure our business is as future proof as possible.  Some of our instinctive decisions based on business efficiency have been borne out by the detailed data to have good outcomes in terms of our footprint. But that detailed data also provided insights into areas to focus on, for instance our IT spend.  We can move forward knowing that we are very high performers in terms of emissions per pound of legal spend and that we have a differentiator to discuss with clients, and that they can benefit from that potential reduction versus industry benchmarks or our competitors.”

Win, win, win! It’s competition time!

To mark the success of the Net Zero Law Initiative, Net Zero Now is offering one lucky individual the chance to develop their sustainability knowledge by giving them a free place on a short course from the prestigious Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. If you’re a legal eagle who wants to soar to the next level of sustainability, click here to find out more about this incredible opportunity

  1. Net Zero Now calculations based on a 30% reduction in the sector total of 1.3m tons CO2e