Why Law Firms Should Get Serious About Sustainability

Photo by Giammarco on Unsplash

The business of business is changing

Customers and regulators are increasingly demanding more sustainable practices and transparent reporting of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors. Law firms of all sizes should pay close attention, because there are numerous risks and opportunities associated with this evolution. One key opportunity: capturing the benefits of healthier office spaces.

The market is increasingly demanding sustainable practices and robust, transparent disclosures.

Consider this: an estimated 90% of S&P 500 companies published some type of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report in 2019 (a significant increase from 2011, when just 20% reported).¹

ESG reporting is changing the way every industry does business (and it’s about time)

Environmental, Social and Governance is essentially an investing (and risk management) framework that brings a broad range of what have traditionally been considered “non-financial” factors into financial decision-making.

How to stand out in the current market

Capture opportunities to better serve existing clients

Clients are increasingly asking all service providers — including law firms — questions related to their commitment to a variety of ESG factors. Both public and private clients, when selecting or renewing contracts with their outside legal counsel, are inquiring about not only their experience with the legal issues associated with ESG, but also substantive questions about the firm’s own commitments with respect to ESG factors.⁸


Leverage your office space as a health and wellness tool.

There are quantifiable benefits to more sustainable office spaces and many ways to leverage office space to promote health and wellness. In addition, many healthy building strategies are in alignment with ESG factors and frameworks.

Your employees care about health and wellness

“In fact, Gallup recently asked employees what they look for most in an employer. The data showed that employees of all generations rank “the organization cares about employees’ wellbeing” in their top three criteria. For millennials and Generation Z, it’s their №1 workplace want. Also high on their list are diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and ethical corporate behavior.”¹²

What is a “healthy” building?

Healthy buildings take the concept of a “green” building and increase the focus to strategies designed to support the health and wellness of the building occupants. Put another way, healthy buildings aim to support both environmental and human health.

  1. Ventilation
  2. Air Quality
  3. Thermal Health
  4. Moisture
  5. Dust and Pests
  6. Safety and Security
  7. Water Quality
  8. Noise
  9. Lighting and Views¹⁵

So where’s the data?

A 2015 study from Harvard’s School of Public Health outlines the benefits that healthier spaces can deliver to building occupants, and particularly to knowledge workers like lawyers.

  • On the Green Building days, the researchers lowered the levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) — one of the most pervasive indoor air pollutants that can originate from everything from printers to furnishings.
  • On the Green Building+ days, the researchers lowered the VOC levels and increased the ventilation rates (brought in more fresh air).

What does this all mean?

The latest research demonstrates that healthy building strategies can positively impact a business’s bottom line. They also help manage risk to the point that insurance carriers are noticing.

  • Attract top talent
  • Retain that talent (and your investment in them)
  • Get the best performance out of lawyers and staff
  • Build resilience and reduce business interruption
  • Better serve existing clients and attract new ones.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Nicole DeNamur

Nicole DeNamur


Attorney + sustainability consultant. I write about how we can drive deep green innovation at scale. https://www.sustainablestrategiespllc.com