Working collaboratively to promote sustainable practice across the legal sector

News & Views

  • 22 May 2014 12:14 PM | Anonymous member

     Walking the Great Wall of China at Cornwall Stodart

    With AusLSA GreenThemes suggesting a focus on Travel for Quarter 2, Cornwall Stodart focussed on staff commuting and general health and started a daily steps walking competition.

    Practice groups were invited to form a team of five. Daily steps were tracked using a mobile phone app (“Pacer’’) or pedometers (purchased by individuals).  Cycling distances could also be included converted into steps.

    The target was for the firm as a whole was to walk the Wall of China, or approximately 11 million steps, and half-way through they anticipate that they will walk the whole length of the Wall, plus some of the way back!

  • 15 April 2014 10:40 AM | Anonymous member
    Global law firm Allen & Overy are the latest Australian practice to join AusLSA. 
    We welcome Allen & Overy's support of AusLSA and our objectives. 

    It's great to see the high profile of Corporate Responsibility on their website.

  • 02 April 2014 3:05 PM | Anonymous member

    GreenThemes: Travel
    As we enter Quarter 2 in our GreenThemes program focusing on Travel, lets find out how travel is managed.  Below are two surveys; one to find out what law firms are doing with their travel practices and policies, and another to find out how law firm staff feel about travel.

    Please take 2min to complete a survey on your firm's travel practices and help AusLSA report on how Australian law firms manage travel. 

    There's also some suggestions for broader benefits for reducing travel and don't miss our webinar on offsetting travel (to reduce the environmental impact of the flights you have to take).

    From AusLSA Reporting we have learned that reducing travel is the legal sector's most intractable source of emissions. It's clear that some travel is necessary, but it's also clear that we could all be doing much more to find ways around it. So ask yourself, what more can be done at our firm to reduce travel this quarter?

    Don't forget to look at the GreenThemes website for more travel ideas!
    Travel Survey    
    By answering just 10 questions, taking just 2min, you will help AusLSA prepare a report on the policies and practices for business travel in the Australian legal sector.

    Want to find out a bit more about how other firms are managing travel? Submit your answers now.

    Staff Travel Survey
      The AusLSA Staff Travel Survey aims to capture how law firm staff travel to the office as well as to meetings and how they feel about it. Is travelling for work a perk? or is something detestable?

    Distribute the survey throughout your firm and AusLSA will prepare a report on staff travel for your firm!

    Benefits of not flying
    It's not all about saving carbon, or even about saving direct costs. What are some of the other benefits from reducing the number of flights taken by your firm?
    1. Time. Although a flight between Melbourne and Sydney only takes an hour, when you add on getting to the airport, waiting for the flight, boarding, disembarking, waiting for luggage and getting to your meeting it can take more than 3hrs. A return flight MEL-SYD takes up more than 6hrs.
    2. Productivity. While people might be able to read or write a few emails in the waiting time, much of it is just waiting, in queues: that's 6+ hours of work time that has been lost.  
    3. Illness. Viruses love plane travel. 'Nuff said. 
    4. Indirect costs. Taxis to/from airport. Meals. Accommodation. It costs a bomb. 
    5. Stress. Travel is exhausting and stressful, also making people more susceptible to Illness (see above). 
    6. Risk. When people travel for work it undoubtedly increases the risks they face, but doesn't diminish your firm's duty of care. 
    Makes learning how to use webconferencing a great idea!

    Carbon offsetting for travel: Webinar
    For the foreseeable future, flying for business will be necessary. While every business could do more to reduce the number of flights taken, we can also take steps to mitigate the impact of those necessary flights. This webinar will provide an overview of offsetting flights, the positive impacts and benefits that offsetting can have and a number of options for offsetting (including ticking the offsetting box on the flight booking).

    Alex Stathakis (CitySwitch) and Justin Pilgrim (Climate Friendly) will provide all the information you need to turn your flight's carbon emissions into positive social and environmental outcomes.

    AusLSA Events
     Thursday 3 April  Webinar: Offsetting Travel
     Wednesday 7 May  Sydney Sustainability Champions Network
     Tuesday 13 May  Melbourne Sustainability Champions Network
     Tuesday 20 May  Perth Sustainability Champions Network
     TBA  Brisbane Sustainability Champions Network
     TBA  Adelaide Sustainability Champions Network


  • 21 March 2014 4:05 PM | Anonymous member

    Energy Issue: Quarter 1 GreenThemes

    This is the last newsletter for Quarter 1 on Energy. Here are a few more ideas from GreenThemes to get you and your colleagues involved in a last ditch effort - 
    More ideas below, or check the GreenThemes website.

    Power savings from Power Boards
    How many electronic devices do you use near your desk?
    • Computer
    • Monitor
    • Phone charger
    • Tablet charger
    • Lamp
    • Fan, heater, etc
    Many of these still use power when switched off unless they are turned off at the wall. But even the greenest amongst us aren't going to scramble under our desks each morning and evening to reach the switch. 

    A powerboard with an on/off switch makes doing the right thing easy. You can do this at home too and save up to 10% of your energy bill. 

    Productivity gains from lighting
    The Green Building Council of Australia also promotes the less tangible benefits of going green. Studies suggest that good ventilation and good lighting can increase staff productivity by up to 23%. That is an extraordinary opportunity to improve your firm's business. 

    Find out more about lighting by watching VECCI's lighting webinars

    AusLSA has started a webinar series to capture Membership knowledge. AusLSA Members will present on their sustainability programs and achievements detailing the crucial factors that enabled success. Each session will be recorded and posted for Members on the AusLSA website, so you can participate live or catchup at your convenience.

    How we won a CitySwitch Award: Wallmans 
    David Dercho, Client Development Manager will outline why and how Wallmans Lawyers in Adelaide became CitySwitch's New Signatory of the Year.  
    PowerDown at Clayton Utz (Melbourne)
    Jason Molin, Operations Manager, explained how their Footprints Committee managed a reduction in electricity use by 50% over 6 years with very minimal investment.

    Quarter 2: Travel 
    Start getting ready to focus on our next theme, Travel, during Quarter 2.  AusLSA's mantra for reducing travel is eliminate, substitute, combine. 

    Many law firms have significantly reduced the costs of travel by simply changing the approval process for staff travel to enhance oversight ensuring all travel is necessary. 
    • Action: Review your firm's travel policy
    Go online, not the airport. 
    Webinar and videoconferencing platforms have come a long way and can replace the need for some travel. Many employees aren't aware of how good it can be. Did you know that many systems allow live document sharing? This allows you to work on a document with you remote colleagues at the same time!
    • Action: Organise a training or trial session of your firm's online meeting platform. 
    • Action: Introduce regular webconferencing training sessions, or include training as part of induction. 
    If you have to go, make the most of it. Organise a few more meetings while you are away. You could even visit another AusLSA Member for a coffee! Ask Emily for an introduction.

       In this issue
    o Powerboards
    o  Lighting increasing productivity
    Winning a CitySwitch Award
    PowerDown at Clayton Utz
    Earth Hour reminder
    Coming up next quarter: Travel
    AusLSA Events

    Earth Hour 
    8.30pm 29 March 2014
    Don't forget to switch off at home and at the office!
    Spiderman's switch off campaign

    Watch this video about the production of the new Spiderman movie and how a Sustainability Champion helped make sustainability a key feature of the production. 

     AusLSA Events
    Sustainability Champions Networks
    Offsetting Travel
    Webinar - 3 April 2014

    Sustainability Snapshot
    Friday 21 March - Wallmans: Winning a CitySwitch Award

  • 06 March 2014 9:38 AM | Anonymous member
    It’s estimated that 85% of a company’s costs are spent on salaries and benefits and as such even modest improvements to staff health and productivity can have a dramatic impact on profits.  Stephen Kennett writes for the 2 Degrees Network

    Project to build the business case for health and productivity benefits of green buildings

    The World Green Building Council is launching a project which aims to define the health and productivity benefits of green office buildings.

    The project aims to establish a common way of capturing benefits like improved productivity, and to provide best practice guidance on the type of green building features – such as daylighting, ventilation and indoor office environments – that enhance them.

    It’s estimated that 85% of a company’s costs are spent on salaries and benefits and as such even modest improvements to staff health and productivity can have a dramatic impact on organisational profitability. Studies have found up to 11% gains in productivity from improved ventilation, up to 23% gains in productivity from improved lighting design.

    The project is expected to create a ‘toolkit’ for office owners and occupiers to use that can then be used to better inform investment decisions.

    Jane Henley, CEO of WorldGBC, said: “While there is a growing body of research that firmly supports the connections between sustainable buildings and improved health, productivity and learning outcomes of those who occupy them, this evidence is yet to inform investment decisions in the same way as traditional financial metrics. This project aims to identify the metrics that will support investment in greener buildings.”

    "Corporate health and wellbeing strategies are increasingly being used as a competitive edge to attract and retain the best people."
    Geoff Dutaillis, Group Head of Sustainability at Lend Lease, said: “As the fight for talent increases, corporate health and wellbeing strategies are increasingly being used as a competitive edge to attract and retain the best people. The spaces we occupy are an integral part of this endeavour.

    “As one of the largest international property and infrastructure companies, our focus is on continuing to invest in ‘health and wellbeing’ strategies for our employees, partners and visitors.”

    The project builds upon WorldGBC’s report published last year, ‘The Business Case for Green Building’, which summarised the existing research into the health benefits of sustainable buildings.

    Published 1 March 2014. Subscribe to 2 Degrees Network - 
  • 18 February 2014 4:40 PM | Anonymous member

    Switch off and engage your employees!

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

    by Emily Wilson, General Manager, Australian Legal Sector Alliance 

    In a recent survey of legal staff by the Australian Legal Sector Alliance (AusLSA), 90% of respondents thought that organisations should work towards the long-term welfare of the natural environment even if there are economic costs. Yet, surprisingly, approximately 50% of respondents also thought their firm did nothing at all or only a little on environmental issues.

    So how can law firms address the concerns of their staff as well as focus on running effective and efficient businesses?

    Switch off & Save!

    Office buildings use 55% of their electricity out of hours  - half of your electricity bill comes from powering an empty building. So, the easiest program you can run and one you can start today is a ‘Switch-off Campaign’. 

    At its simplest this involves switching off the lights and equipment at the end of the work day. 

    A firm with ~100PCs could save up to $10,000 by just turning them off when not in use.
    Encourage your colleagues to do the same with poster or sticker reminders  or try searching for “free switch off posters”.Switch off sticker  

    Most office equipment has power-save or timer settings for sleep, hibernate or shutdown.  But the trick is to find settings that don’t slow down busy people and save energy.  Computer monitors are a good starting point; they use up to 80% of the energy of a PC unit and can quickly and easily be switched off and restarted with the button or power-saving settings (please note that screensavers don’t save energy!).

    You could also think about:
    • Printers and faxes – turn off, sleep modes or timers
    • Drinks fridges – turn off overnight or get a timer
    • Equipment (like chargers) usually use power even if nothing is plugged into them – turn them all off at once with a power board. 
    A more sophisticated energy efficiency program might include motion sensor lighting, timing systems or auto-shutdown software.  Although there is a cost involved initially, the return-on-investment (ROI) is attractive.  Case-studies at law firms like Norton Rose Fulbright and Gilbert + Tobin on these sorts of energy saving initiatives reveal ROI from 3 – 18 months. 

    Why don’t you start with making sure your firm is going to switch-off for Earth Hour on Saturday 29 March 2014?

    Engage your staff

    There is so much that can be done at little or no cost, all that is required is a few ideas and some time to implement them. It helps if you can focus on one thing at a time and do it well.  This allows you to:
    • Plan your initiative,
    • Measure your baseline,
    • Involve your people 
    • Measure your impact, and
    • Celebrate your success!
    To help you plan your business efficiency programs, AusLSA has established the GreenThemes program – each quarter we distribute ideas and inspiration on a new sustainability theme like paper and energy.

    And remember, you don’t have to do it on your own. Law firms are filled with people with passion and enthusiasm for making their firm (and the world) a better place. 

    Establish a committee and provide them with support and time to think about and act on sustainability in your firm and you can:
    • Reduce costs,
    • Reduce environmental impact,
    • Improve staff engagement, and
    • Be seen as a progressive employer.
    There is no downside to environmental sustainability. 

    Published February 2014 in the ALPMA Blog


    A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

  • 07 February 2014 1:46 PM | Anonymous member

    GreenThemes: Energy Ideas
    In the FY2013 AusLSA Report 17 of 26 firms reported electricity reductions since the previous year. It's not too late to make an impact to your electricity use this year; even small changes can have big impacts. 

    The GreenThemes Q1 program is looking at Energy and here are suggestions for things you could do to improve your firm's energy efficiency. Think about:
    • refreshing or posting signs to remind people to Switch off
    • posting a video (like the Earth Hour one below) to your intranet
    • watching a webinar about lighting to see if your lighting could be more efficient
    • asking your operational staff about server virtualisation
    • making sure your firm has organised to participate in Earth Hour
    VECCI and Carbon Compass are currently running a series on lighting from basics, through technologies to grants. You can catch up by watching the recordings or join the final seminar next week. 
    Switch-off campaigns
       Switching off is the easiest way to save electricity (and money!). The trick is establishing new habits. Remind your colleagues to flick the switch with these signs available to download from Carbon Compass. 

    PC monitors
    Monitors use the majority (up to 80%) of your computer's power and turning off the monitor is so quick and easy that there are really no excuses. Attach some of these labels to your colleague's monitors.

    Drinks Fridge
    Does your firm (or home) have fridges just for drinks? How about using a 24-hour timer to turn the fridge off overnight when you don't need icy cold beverages

    Christmas Day
    Greensense monitored energy usage in buildings on Christmas day and found that many offices used as much energy as per a usual work day despite everyone being at home eating seafood and opening gifts. Do you reschedule your office lights, equipment and building automation for public holidays?
    Earth Hour - use your power: 29 March 2014
    The new campaign for Earth Hour 2014 will be released tomorrow. Subscribe for updates, sign up to the campaign, download tools and participate with 7000 cities and 154 countries across the world.

    The Earth Hour videos are always immensely inspiring and a great quick video to share or show to your colleagues. This one shows Earth Hour Sydney in 2012. As you will see there are still offices with lights switched on! Make sure your office isn't one this year. 

    Earth Hour calendar reminder

    Power save mode
    Most office equipment have power save modes - computers, monitors, faxes, printers,etc... Good power saving settings can save hundreds of KWh of electricity per year without any frustrations for staff.  

    Have a think about how each device is used and investigate what saving settings are possible. You could set: 
    • computer monitors to sleep after 5min and hibernate after 20min
    • printers to go to sleep at 8pm and wakeup at 7am. 
    Measuring energy usage
    Measuring your energy use is vital is you want to know if your efforts are successful. A plugin energy monitor will let you know immediately how much electricity single appliances draw when in use or turned off. 
    Calculate the savings when turning off your computer and monitor each day and extrapolate for your entire fleet. Example of a plugin Energy Monitor.
    Server Virtualisation
    IT servers use a lot of energy and produce a lot of heat (requiring A/C). Virtualising servers can drastically reduce the electricity required. Most firms have already virtualised their servers (and now thinking about cloud-based services). If your firm hasn't yet, you can learn how to do it from other AusLSA Members - see the Virtualisation Case-studies. 

  • 21 January 2014 2:34 PM | Anonymous member


    Happy New Year
    Welcome to 2014. Hopefully you have had a reinvigorating break and are ready to return to work with passion and purpose. 

    At AusLSA we are ready to tackle some new issues in 2014. Here is what we are preparing for...  

    Sustainability Champions Networks
    Sustainability Champions Networks provide an opportunity to discuss the opportunities and challenges of becoming a more sustainable law firm.  Register for an event near you. 
    • Sydney: Wednesday 5 February - Register
    • Melbourne: Wednesday 12 February - Register
    • Brisbane: Tuesday 25 February - Register
    • Perth: Wednesday 26 February - Register
    • Adelaide:  Wednesday 5 March - Register
    Please forward to any of your interested colleagues. 
    Cloud Computing
    Technology is providing lawyers with greater flexibility and mobility and it seems law firms are increasing their use of digital platforms, particularly for collaboration.

    At this webinar Marco Marcello, Lavan Legal's IT Manager, will discuss how the firm moved to cloud computing (SAS) including how they addressed the risks and embraced the opportunities.

    Thursday 6 March: 
    Travel Offsetting
    Travel by law firm staff is responsible for approximately 30% of a law firm's environmental impact and is proving the most difficult to minimise. But we can do something about the impact of travel, through offsetting.

    This webinar will consider a couple of travel offsetting options, with:
    • Justin Pilgrim,Climate Friendly speaking about FlightPortal, a flight offsetting program, and the positive impacts offsetting can have, and
    • Alex Stathakis, CitySwitch Brisbane, speaking about Virgin & Qantas flight offset options and whether they are actually worth it.
    Thursday 3 AprilRegister
    AusLSA updates


    Energy: Lighting
    GreenThemes is starting 2014 focusing on energy. What is your law firm doing about energy use?

    For many businesses, lighting will account for up to 50% of your electricity spend. Yet lighting technology used in commercial offices is often out dated or poorly laid out.

    CitySwitch Green Office are hosting a number of lighting related meetings that will help you improve lighting and save energy

    LED Seminar Series
    (with the Lighting Council of Australia)
    • Brisbane - 17 Feb
    • Sydney - 19 Feb
    • Melbourne - 21 Feb
    Webinar Series: Lighting Technologies for Business
    (with VECCI and Carbon Compass)

    Social Sustainability

    The triple-bottom line of corporate responsibility includes economic, environmental and social considerations. After 3 years, we think AusLSA has provided valuable assistance to law firms with their environmental sustainability.

    Now we are developing proposals to expand our focus to social sustainability.
    AusLSA Members will be consulted in the coming weeks for input on how we can best add value. Stay tuned!
    Courts project

     '...but the courts wont allow it!' is sometime used by legal staff to justify resistance to changing practices (like double-sided printing).

    AusLSA, in partnership with Law in Order, is finalising a summary of current court rules to provide some clarity and an effective rejoinder to staff complaints. 

    AusLSA and Law in Order are consulting with various Australian courts on this project. 
  • 03 December 2013 12:27 PM | Anonymous member
    Wallmans recently won the CitySwitch awards for SA and New Signatory of the Year. 
  • 27 November 2013 10:28 AM | Anonymous member
     Surplus food feeding the hungry at OzHarvest
    Ronni Kahn, CEO OzHarvest

    Aligned to the AusLSA GreenTheme for quarter 4 - Waste - OzHarvest provided the guest speakers for the launch of the 4th AusLSA report in November 2013. Ronni and Gopi Krishnan spoke in Sydney and Melbourne respectively and provided some inspiring stories of the impacts from donating leftovers. 

    A few components of the program that make it super easy

    • Changes to civil liability legislation to reduce the liability for food that is donated,
    • Even modest amounts of food are welcome (eg, 10 leftover sandwiches)
    • Call as early as you can to arrange collection, but even if it is late it is worthwhile calling to enquire. 

     Some key facts

    • In Australia one million children go to school without breakfast or bed without dinner every day
    • Two million people rely on food relief in Australia at some point every year
    • $1 donated to OzHarvest will provide 2 meals
    • $8billion of food is wasted in Australia each year
    AusLSA Members supporting and using OzHarvest
    • Clayton Utz
    • Henry Davis York
    • Sparke Helmore
    OzHarvest is also a good option for
    • Corporate gifts (including a lovely leftovers cookbook)
    • Volunteer day experiences
    • Cooking sessions
    • Corporate giving
    About OzHarvest
    OzHarvest is a charity that collects surplus catered food and organises redistribution to the hungry, homeless and disadvantaged in 
    • Sydney, 
    • Brisbane, 
    • Melbourne, 
    • Adelaide and 
    • Newcastle. 
    • Food Rescue WA provides a similar service in Perth. 
    OzHarvest began when Ronni Kahn, our founding director, decided that she was not prepared to be part of the waste cycle that is a natural outcome of the hospitality industry. Being a part of this industry for over 20 years she had seen a lot of food wasted. So she spent time researching options for dealing with the excess food. There was no organisation in Sydney that could collect the food on a regular and professional basis so Ronni decided to set up a food rescue charity herself.

    Backed by The Macquarie Group Foundation which provided funds and Goodman International which provided a van and office space, OzHarvest was established and collected its first meal in November 2004.

    Ronni was able to persuade a group of socially minded business people to sit on the board of OzHarvest. This voluntary board brings not only sound business disciplines to the management of OzHarvest but also compassion and generosity.

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