Over the past several years I have met with hundreds of prospective clients, many of whom have become loyal and supportive to Emerald Brand’s sustainable foodservice and facilities program. These clients fall under dozens of different industries, from hospitality and healthcare to financial and educational institutions. However, one particular sector that has caught our attention as a key leader and proactive proponent of the environmental movement is the legal industry.

Almost every sizable law firm out there has some sort of sustainability initiative. Most of them, particularly the larger national and multi-national firms, have made sustainability part of the foundation of their entire business model. This discovery begs the question: why have law firms taken such a significant position when it comes to environmental practices?

In my dealings with some of the largest firms in the country, all have moved very quickly on implementing our particular program as well as countless other environmental platforms to achieve a more environmentally efficient operation. After a tremendous amount of note-taking and listening, I have learned three key reasons for law firms becoming leaders in sustainability.

Ethics and Morality

If there is an industry that is built to represent ethics and morality, it is the legal industry. As ethics and morals are key cornerstones of sustainability, it is only fitting that law firms fit sustainability into their daily practices (no pun intended). In my experience, law firms are quick to ask, “Is this the right decision for my firm, my family, and my future?” It appears that because these principles are built into the fabric of the legal industry, if there are reasonable options available for them to simply “do the right thing”, they are quick to do it.

Green Doesn’t Always Mean More

Proactive firms have realized that making their firms more sustainable actually means they are sustaining instead of wasting! And what does that translate into? It translates into cost savings! Implementing a paperless office program will save a firm a tremendous amount of ink, paper, and waste removal costs. Utilizing LED bulbs instead of traditional CFL bulbs reduces energy costs and the ROI on average is only around 11 months. It seems lawyers were quick to catch on to the fact that becoming more environmentally friendly actually boosts their bottom line and helps to sustain their operations.

“Client Pull Through”

Like most businesses, one of the top influential factors determining how law firms operate is their clients. For example, when a client demands our Emerald Brand sustainability solution, their distributor or service provider is glad to stock and utilize our program. In a similar sense, when clients ask what their firm is doing to reduce its carbon footprint, the firm is compelled to start changing its habits and implementing environmental programs into its operations. Many major law firms represent large companies in rapidly growing sustainability industries like clean energy, renewable energy, and organics. When choosing a firm to represent them, these companies look carefully at the firm’s everyday environmental practices and CSR policies. Therefore, in order to stay relevant to their clientele, law firms must adjust their policies to include more sustainable practices.

I believe in the next several years we will see an even greater increase in demand for sustainability from the law community. Their leadership in sustainability and environmental conservation will continue to set a precedence for businesses, big and small, in all industries and will help make this world a safer place for future generations.