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Heard the one about the law firm that saved itself 8% on fuel bills without spending a penny?

27 September 2017

No it's not a joke nor an ad for a new gas tariff. This is the  typical kind of cost reduction a law firm member of the Legal Sustainability Alliance can achieve using the resources and advice from this free dedicated legal network.


Recent flooding and hurricanes have highlighted the impact of climate change. While climate scientists are cautious in saying that climate change caused the flooding, the warming of the earth's atmosphere has contributed to the weather extremes seen over the summer of 2017, from intense heat to life-threatening rain.

What has hurricane Harvey got to do with the practice of law in the UK? 

The answer is that climate change affects us all and we can all do something to slow down global warming. The benefit is global and local – adopting a proactive approach to reducing your carbon footprint can save your firm money.

Founded in 2007 by the UK's leading firms and the Law Society, the Legal Sustainability Alliance is now a network with 130+ UK firm members, from small practices to global law firms. What links them is a commitment to managing, measuring and reducing their carbon footprint. On average over the last ten years Legal Sustainability Alliance members have reduced their emissions by 15 per cent per capita. Membership is free.

Well that's ok for the big firms but what about the rest of us?

While you would expect a large firm to be addressing these issues, smaller UK practices may feel that tackling climate change involves too much effort and expense – but that's where the 8 per cent saving comes in. With our  help you can  reduce your impact and make significant savings, and gain significant business benefits. A sustainable approach is appealing to staff, recruits and clients. Being green can give you an edge in attracting and retaining the best talent and winning new business.

Our five tips for sustainability

It's easy and it's not expensive. The great thing about a sustainable approach is that it is cumulative, once you start momentum builds and grows.

Our advice is start small and simple.

1. Switch off

It sounds so simple but how many of your staff switch off their computer monitors, printers, desk lamps and office lights at the end of the day?   Encourage staff to switch off monitors if they are going to be away from their desks for more than 10 minutes or so. Turning off a single computer when not in use instead of leaving it on standby saves £5 a year, and turning off one that would have been on screen saver can save £45 a year. Don't be that office building lit up like a Christmas tree out of hours after everyone's gone home.

2. Turn down

We nearly all turn down the heating at home but not in the office. The Environment Agency recommends 19 degrees Celsius is comfortable for most staff in winter.

3. Lighting up

You could save significantly if you swap all your halogen bulbs to LEDs.

4. Think before you print and double side

The legal profession is a paper business but habits can change. Try simple steps like removing individual printers, printing double sided, reducing font and margin size and adopting Green Meetings where no papers are printed for internal meetings

5. Join the free Legal Sustainability Alliance

It has easy to use resources and tools to help you on all stages of your sustainability journey, including a bespoke Carbon Footprint Reporting tool which will give your firm a personal carbon report each year. Join at Legalsustainabilityalliance.com

The Legal Sustainability Alliance was founded in 2007 by a group of leading law firms including DLA Piper, Slaughter and May, Simmons and Simmons, Allen & Overy, Bond Dickinson, Norton Rose Fulbright and the Law Society. Financial support from these firms and others and from the Law Society enables the Legal Sustainability Alliances to offer all its services for free across the legal profession to firms of all sizes and to in-house counsel.

Join the Manchester Law Society, the Legal Sustainability Alliance and the Planet Mark™ (Eden Project) for a free afternoon workshop on how sustainability will save you money. Includes buffet lunch Thursday 5 October 12.30 – 16:00  Manchester

Download the free Legal Sustainability Alliance Business Case for Sustainability 

Quick wins for your firm and office to save money

Download the Legal Sustainability Alliance 10th Anniversary Report 2017

Read about the Law Society's environmental policy  

Read about the Law Society's Planning and Environmental Law Committee

About the author

Amanda Carpenter is a managing director at Achill Management specialising in consultancy in the not-for-profit sector around collaborative working, sustainability, governance and organisational development. Achill Management has hosted the Legal Sustainability Alliance since 2014. 

Follow the Legal Sustainability Alliance on Twitter

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