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Legal Environmental Insight: Report of AusLSA Members 2012

Executive Summary

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From the AusLSA Chair

We are very pleased to present the third annual AusLSA environmental report. Since launching a little over 18 months ago our membership has increased to 41 members, including all of the top 10 law firms in Australia.

This year 27 AusLSA Members have chosen to submit an environmental report to AusLSA for FY2012, and of those, 24 have chosen to publish their report. These firms should be congratulated for making a public commitment to accountability and transparency of their environmental impacts.

By sharing our environmental reports, by engaging with other AusLSA members and the AusLSA program, we remain hopeful that all Australian law firms can reduce their impact on increasingly fragile environment.

David Rennick and Kelvin O'Connor
Co-Chairs, AusLSA

Emerging industry statistics

Over time, AusLSA aims to develop industry benchmarks for environmental performance. Based on this year’s data, we have sorted Members into group based on their geographic spread and assessed the average profile for each group along with the lowest impact for each parameter.

 Report cover

Emerging statistics


Having studied the firm in their groupings the following observations can be made:

  1. CO2 emissions per head increase with expanding jurisdiction.
    1. Electricity consumption per head tends to be higher when there are more locations and the firms are bigger;
    2. Air travel tends to be greater for multi-location firms and notably for those firms with international connections; and
    3. It’s easier to introduce change in smaller firms.
  2. Paper consumption per head does not appear to be impacted by the size of the firm nor the number of its geographic locations.




Paper use trends


Due to the small, but increasing number of Reporting Members, caution should be used in applying significance to annual changes.

Electricity use is decreasing
Emissions from the use of electricity are decreasing. Since FY2010, emissions from electricity, calculated on a per head basis, have decreased by 9.5% from 3.28t CO2e to 2.92t CO2e. Looking at individual firms, 12 of 15 firms reporting in FY2011 have achieved reductions in the last year.

Travel is increasing
Overall, travel emissions (primarily flights) have increased by 14%, from 1.45t CO2e to 1.65 t CO2e per head since FY2010. Of the 15 firms that reported their emissions last year, 5 managed substantial reductions and 5 reported smaller (but still significant) reductions in flight emissions. The remaining 5 firms reported substantial increases in flight emissions ranging from 15% to 119%. These increases can be partly explained by changing operations: either opening a new office interstate or having been involved in a merger with an overseas firm.

Paper use is decreasing
In a very positive outcome, overall paper has been reduced by nearly 11% (on a per head basis) from 140kg per person to 125kg per person since FY2010. Please note that the scope of reporting on paper use has been altered for FY2012 requiring re-calculation (including estimations) of data from previous years.

Carbon offsetting is increasing
Since 2010, the use of carbon offsetting by AusLSA Members has increased from 2 of 8 reporting firms in 2010, to 10 of 27 firms in 2012. The number of offsets purchased has also increased; total offsets have increased nearly 300% and the average per firm has increased 133%.



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