Building the Sustainable Law Firm
Developing and Implementing an ESG Strategy
This title discusses how the development of robust, long-term ESG initiatives can provide law firms with manifold benefits, including the opportunity to gain competitive advantage; attract, engage and retain clients and employeees; increase value and service offerings to clients; and enter new markets.
However, the implementation of an ESG strategy should not be a box-ticking exercise; rather, it requires firm-wide commitment and involves the full integration of ESG criteria into the strategy, operations and ethos of the firm, in relation to both the firm itself and its dealing with clients.
Increased regulation, stronger business ethics and attitudes to climate change, environmental protection, employment standards, sustainable finance, risk and governance, community engagement, corruption and human rights are evolving at an unprecedented rate. As a result, the development of robust, long-term ESG initiatives in these areas can provide law firms with manifold benefits, including the opportunity to:
gain competitive advantage;
retain their license to operate;
make cost savings due to operational improvements;
attract, engage and retain clients and employees;
increase value and service offerings to clients through advising them on their own sustainability transformation; and
enter new markets.
This Special Report looks at the business drivers for sustainability in law firms and offers a practical toolkit to guide law firms on their ESG journey. It will make essential reading for all lawyers, law firm leaders and management teams who are involved in implementing sustainability strategies at both a firm and practice group level.
Table of Contents
|Part I: Sustainability and law – setting the scene||9|
|1. Definitions: ‘corporate social responsibility’,‘sustainable development’ or ‘ESG’?||10|
|2. Sustainability: from slow raising of awareness to exponential growth of regulations||12|
|3. Law firms: towards proactive engagement in the sustainability journey||16|
|4. The Sustainable Development Goals: a universal compass for businesses and law firms||23|
|Part II: The business case for sustainability in law firms||35|
|1. Introduction: sustainability as a competitive edge||35|
|2. The underestimated power of culture and purpose||36|
|Case Study 1||41|
|Living up to our statutory purpose||41|
|3. The pivotal responsibility of law firms as advisers to their clients||43|
|Case Study 2||45|
|The client perspective: the ESG transformation and its impact on law firms||45|
|Case Study 3||50|
|Developing a multi-disciplinary ESG practice||50|
|4. The law firm as a sustainable employer||57|
|Case Study 4||57|
|Why we should expect more responsibility from law firms||57|
|Case Study 5||72|
|Embracing diversity and inclusiveness||72|
|5. Law firms expected to have their governance in place||75|
|6. A law firm’s organisational and operational responsibilities||84|
|7. Strategy, positioning, differentiation – and their alignment||96|
|Case Study 6||100|
|Setting the standards for sustainable success||100|
|Part III: How to engage in transformation – our approach to sustainability in law firms||103|
|1. Understand the SDGs and develop a sustainability mindset||105|
|2. Agree ambitions and purpose||105|
|3. Assess where you are, internally and externally||106|
|4. Define priorities and set goals||111|
|5. Align sustainability and strategy||114|
|6. Report, communicate, review, improve||119|
|Case Study 7||120|
|The case for sustainability reporting||120|
|Appendix 1: Examples of indicators||127|
|Appendix 2: Examples of important initiatives||131|
|About the authors||141|
|About Globe Law and Business||143|
Robert F van Beemen
Partner, Dicke Röell Breedveld
Robert F van Beemen is a partner at Dicke Röell Breedveld, a legal executive search, coaching and strategy firm in the Netherlands. His main focus is advising boutique and national independent law firms in the Benelux on market positioning, strategic reviews, ESG and international strategy formulation, and strategic business planning. He started his career in 2007 as a corporate and restructuring lawyer with a large Dutch Caribbean law firm in Curaçao. From 2014 to May 2022 Robert was a partner at Venturis Consulting Group.
Robert holds an LLM in corporate law and is an alumnus of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. He is an officer of the International Bar Association Law Firm Management Committee (including the ESG working group) and an active member of the International Association of Young Lawyers (AIJA). He regularly publishes and speaks about ESG, international developments and the impact on the strategies and business models of law firms.
Sophie Boyer Chammard
Partner, Venturis Consulting Group
Sophie Boyer Chammard, a Paris-based partner at Venturis Consulting Group, has been active in the legal market for more than 25 years. Sophie advises law firms on profitable and sustainable revenue growth strategies, and helps them to design client-centred development strategies. She accompanies firms that wish to improve their positive impact – whether social, societal and/or environmental – and include their responsibility as a core element in their profitable growth strategy. She builds on eight years’ experience as a finance and M&A lawyer, and 20 years as a strategy and business development professional, both at law firms (Clifford Chance, Gide and Hogan Lovells) and as a strategy consultant (at Andersen Consulting and independently).
Sophie holds an MBA from INSEAD, an LLB in English and French law from King’s College London and a master’s in business and tax law from the Sorbonne Paris I.