LEGAL SECTOR ENVIRONMENTAL INSIGHT:
Report of AusLSA Members 2014

Executive Summary

  1. From the AusLSA Chair
  2. Electricity use down
  3. Business travel down
  4. Paper use decreasing
  5. Carbon Offsetting increasing
  6. Introducing Social Sustainability

FROM THE AusLSA CHAIR

We are pleased to have reached a five-year milestone at AusLSA with this year’s report.

In this report, thirty-two of our 40 Members have reported on their environmental performance, and it is particularly pleasing that across the sector, our continued focus on environmental impacts has resulted in a reduction of all of the environmental metrics that we monitor; emissions, electricity, travel and paper.

The core principle of AusLSA is to collaboratively promote sustainability practices across our sector and to date, we have successfully focussed on the environmental elements of sustainability. We are now pleased to announce that the AusLSA Board has considered the further development of sustainability practices and propose to extend our reporting to include social and risk based metrics.

AusLSA proposes a three year phased approach to the development of these metrics and, as a start, we have asked our Executive Members to provide some additional information regarding people,
community and supply chain processes which is included in this year’s report.

In subsequent years we will ask those member firms who wish to participate to provide similar information about their firm and we will continue to expand this reporting over the coming years.
Issues such as diversity, pro bono support and workplace practices are all key to our respective firms’ collective success. Our management and performance of these issues is also high on many of our major clients’ pre-requisites, so the notion of us working collaboratively as a sector to enhance and report on these issues can only strengthen our positions.

S Stuart Clark
Chair, AusLSA
Partner, Clayton Utz
      





The Report is based on the environmental profiles of thirty-two of our 40 Members and reveals a sector-wide reduction of all of the environmental metrics that we monitor; emissions, electricity, travel and paper.

Electricity use down

This year the average emissions from electricity use was 2.72 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalents (t CO2e) per employee. Which compared to last year, represents a 9% decrease in emissions and a total reduction of 6,081 t CO2e, which is equivalent to:
  • taking 1,200 cars off the road, or
  • saving 14,000 barrels of oil, or
  • growing 160,000 seedlings for 10 years!
Over three years, we have observed a reduction of 14% in electricity emissions per employee indicating that greater scrutiny of electricity use through the AusLSA reporting process encourages greater focus on the issue resulting in better performance.

Business travel down

On average, 1.82t CO2e per employee was generated by business travel which represents a decrease of 4% since last year (1.93 tCO2e)

Paper use decreasing

Paper consumption per employee has also decreased in the last year from 121.79kg to 119.63kg; a decrease of 2%. Since the commencement of reporting in FY2010, average paper use has decreased by 15%.

The eight Executive Members of AusLSA who established the organisation and have been reporting on their environmental impacts since 2010, have collectively saved 153,000kg of paper over that time, which can also be represented as:
  • 30million pages,
  • a stack of paper nearly 3km high, or
  • Saving 3 hectares of forest!
 

Carbon Offsetting increasing

This year, saw a significant increase in the volume of carbon offsets purchased; 12 firms engaged in some carbon mitigation, three of which are carbon neutral. These offsets effectively reduce the total carbon emissions from all Reporting Members by 20%, as well as providing significant investment in renewable energy and offsetting projects.

Introducing Social Sustainability 

This year’s report is also the start of AusLSA extending our reporting to include social sustainability issues that will generate a Sustainability profile for the sector and our member firms. The 3 year phased approach will see law firms reporting on issues such as diversity, pro bono support and workplace practices alongside environmental impacts and will align AusLSA reporting to the developing expectations of corporate governance as well as the pre-requisites of law firm clients.

The Executive Members of AusLSA have provided information on their programs and strategies that address various social sustainability issues, including gender, wellbeing, pro bono and community engagement:
  • Across the board, these firms have implemented programs to address gender balance, including:
    • Monitoring gender ratios across the firm and setting targets for representation of women across the firm,
    • Promoting inclusivity and equal opportunity for all staff,
    • Providing more flexible working practices
    • Mentoring and Career development programs, and
    • Training for staff in unconscious bias.
  • All of our Executive Members have well-being programs and many have become signatories of the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation’s Psychological Wellbeing: Best Practice Guidelines for the Legal Profession.
  • All the Executive Member have sophisticated and strategic pro bono programs. All are measuring (or planning to measure) their contributions of legal services and most are signatories to the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target.
  • All the Executive Members have community programs which include fundraising, workplace giving to support charitable organisations, scholarships and also provision of in-kind support and volunteer programs for their staff.


  

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