Episode  3 – The Burning Question – Should Law Firms Act for Fossil Fuels?

Episode 3 – The Burning Question – Should Law Firms Act for Fossil Fuels?

The Sustainable Law Podcast

If you work in the legal sector and you have an interest in tackling the climate and biodiversity crises then this podcast is for you. How do these challenges affect law firms and what can lawyers to take positive action on climate change for their firms and their clients?

Episode 3 – The Burning Question – Should Law Firms Act for Fossil Fuels?

by The Sustainable Law Podcast

Episode 3 – The Burning Question – Should Law Firms Act for Fossil Fuels?

Leading UK and international law firms continue to earn millions from fossil fuel related transactions. Meanwhile law students are calling for action– will the student spotlight cause firms to think again or is it hopelessly naive to think anything will change? Do firms care?

Episode 3 of the Sustainable Law Podcast explores the tricky issue of law firms who work with the fossil fuel industry and how that is affecting student recruitment and retention. We spoke to Sophia Adams Bhatti, Head of Purpose and Impact at global law firm Simmons & Simmons and Haley Czarnek, National Director of Law Students for Climate Accountability.

More about our guests:

Sophia Adams Bhatti
Head of Purpose and Impact, Simmons & Simmons

Sophia is a public policy and strategy expert with 20 years’ experience working across a number of sectors including the law, financial services, competition, consumer affairs, health care and immigration and asylum. She is currently the Global Head of Purpose and Impact where she leads the firm’s international purpose programme. Working with colleagues in all of the firm’s international offices, Sophia’s mission is to help Simmons to achieve the goal of becoming purpose-led and future-focused, and to use its influence and expertise to drive positive impact on people and planet through the firm’s work.
Prior to this role Sophia was Head of Strategy and Policy at Simmons Wavelength, the firm’s legal technology and data science acquisition, where she led on the intersection of law, policy and technology. Focusing heavily on ESG delivery for clients, she worked directly with the C suite in developing ESG strategy alignment.

Previously, Sophia was the Director of Policy and Regulation at the Law Society of England and Wales where she led on, amongst other things, all domestic law reform programmes, Access to Justice, and the future of legal services. In 2019 she led the ground-breaking Commission on the use of AI in the justice sector. She is a recognised author and regularly speaks on issues related to the rule of law, technology and AI, regulation, sustainability and policy. She is an independent adviser to Lawtech UK, AIFC Legal Tech advisory group, and the Corporation of London Legal Tech Sounding Board, and of a number of advisory groups on related issues.

Haley Czarnek
National Director, Law Students for Climate Accountability

Haley Czarnek (she/they) served on LSCA’s first National Leadership Committee as a 3L at the University of Alabama, and graduated in May 2022. Haley has since begun developing their role as LSCA’s first National Director, and is excited to support the committee and student organizers as they build a movement to change the culture of the legal profession. Outside of LSCA, Haley enjoys gardening, hanging out with their dog, Tig, talking about comedy, and spending as much time with southern organizers as possible.

Episode  2 – Greenwashing, a Dirty Business

Episode 2 – Greenwashing, a Dirty Business

The Sustainable Law Podcast

If you work in the legal sector and you have an interest in tackling the climate and biodiversity crises then this podcast is for you. How do these challenges affect law firms and what can lawyers to take positive action on climate change for their firms and their clients?

Episode 2 - Greenwashing, a Dirty Business

by The Sustainable Law Podcast

Episode 2 – Greenwashing, a Dirty Business

Banks that ‘care about the climate’ but finance fossil fuel, fashion houses and supermarkets who shout about sustainability while the food and plastic waste piles up. Are we drowning in a tidal wave of greenwashing and does it matter?

We talked to two experts to help us navigate the murky waters of greenwashing. Tom Parsons is Director of Sales and Origination at Good Energy and George Harding-Rolls is Director of Policy & Advocacy for Eco-Age.

More about our guests:

Tom Parsons is an expert in the UK energy market, specialising in helping UK businesses and households balance their environmental and financial needs.

Tom has led strategy and sales teams for the past 15 years at EDF, Drax and most recently Good Energy, where he is currently Director of Sales and Origination. He recently gained his MBA from Exeter University in sustainable business management. He has worked with some of the UKs largest consumers including Thames Water and BT, delivering solutions for complex energy procurement, renewable generation installation and the Feed in Tariff.

Tom passionately believes that renewable power is not only the right environmental solution, it is also the right economic solution. He has been responsible for several product launches that have helped UK consumers decarbonise and is currently leading the roll out of Good Energy’s market leading solar tariffs and installations for businesses and households.

George Harding-Rolls works as Eco-Age’s Director of Policy & Advocacy, running the organisation’s work on pushing for the equitable phase out of fossil fuels from fashion.

George was Previously with the Changing Markets Foundation, a Dutch non-profit formed to accelerate solutions to sustainability challenges by leveraging the power of markets, where he ran several hard-hitting corporate investigations pushing for accountability and advocating for legislative change.  He led the inception of the Fossil Fashion campaign, exposing the industry’s environmentally disastrous reliance on fossil fuels during the climate crisis as well as the organisation’s greenwash.com project.

Prior to Changing Markets George has worked across the civil society sector with a focus on strategic communications, working for Forum for the Future, for Beijing-based philanthropic advisors, Charitarian, and for leading digital agency, Jellyfish. George is also an advisory board member of the Conscious Advertising Network.

Episode 1 – COP28, From a Young Lawyer’s Perspective

Episode 1 – COP28, From a Young Lawyer’s Perspective

The Sustainable Law Podcast

If you work in the legal sector and you have an interest in tackling the climate and biodiversity crises then this podcast is for you. How do these challenges affect law firms and what can lawyers to take positive action on climate change for their firms and their clients?

Episode 1 - COP28, From a Young Lawyer’s Perspective

by The Sustainable Law Podcast

Episode 1 – COP28, From a

Young Lawyer’s Perspective.

This first episode explores how it feels to be facing twinned climate and nature crises as a young corporate lawyer. What does it feel like to be a young professional at COP28? Was it a game changer? Or a fudge hijacked by fossil fuels?

COP28 attracted over 97,000 people, including nearly 2,500 fossil-fuel lobbyists who out-numbered nearly all individual country delegations. Can meaningful change be accomplished in such an environment or is the COP process broken? Is COP finally taking the youth voice seriously? Do young people need to be more radical?

With Sarah Hill Smith – Associate, Clyde & Co specialising in complex international arbitration and commercial litigation, with a strong interest in climate law and Charlie Bevis – Trainee Solicitor at Norton Rose Fulbright, G20 (Youth) UK Head Delegate & Climate Delegate, COP26 ’27 ’28 Delegate, Stop Ecocide UK Ambassador.

More about our guests:

Sarah Hill-Smith is an associate at Clyde & Co. Sarah specialises in international arbitration and commercial litigation and works in Clyde & Co’s climate risk and resilience team where she advises clients on climate- and nature-related liabilities, risks, and opportunities. Sarah is a volunteer with Legal Response International, with whom she attended COP26 and COP28 to provide free legal advice to climate-vulnerable countries. She previously worked at The Chancery Lane Project, an NGO that drafts and helps lawyers implement climate-aligned clauses in commercial contracts, and is acting Vice Chair of Legal Voices for the Future, an educative initiative upskilling junior lawyers on the climate and ecological crises through
Charlie Bevis is a trainee solicitor at Norton Rose Fulbright, and is looking to specialise in energy and environmental law to apply his passion for advising clients on the challenges and opportunities arising from the energy transition. Beyond his training, Charlie advocates for youth inclusion within climate policymaking. At COP26 and COP27, he reported on the negotiations for youth NGO ClimaTalk and his team received a European Parliament Charlemagne Prize for their work. In 2023, he was appointed to be the UK’s head delegate and climate change delegate to the G20 (Youth) summit, and successfully negotiated the most climate-ambitious Y20 communique ever agreed. Most recently, he attended COP28 to deliver the Climate Youth Negotiator Programme, which trains and funds young people to attend climate summits, and was proud to support the 120 youth negotiators the programme had at the conference.
Womble Bond Dickinson supports #NetZeroWeek 2022

Womble Bond Dickinson supports #NetZeroWeek 2022

Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) is a founding member of the Legal Sustainability Alliance and were one of the first law firms in the UK to make the commitment of achieving net zero by 2030. LSA caught up with WBD’s Partner Sponsor for Net Zero, Jon Bower, and Sustainability Manager, Mathew Swift, to find out what they got up to during #NetZeroWeek.

“This year WBD identified a fantastic opportunity through Net Zero Week to raise awareness around our Net Zero commitment launched in October 2021 (WBD launches its roadmap to achieving net zero by 2030 | Womble Bond Dickinson), what Net Zero means for our organisation and how our colleagues can get further involved in terms of ensuring we deliver on this objective.” Mathew explained.

“Throughout the week we featured a number of fantastic resources on our website, including links to the LSA website. We hosted an insightful webinar with one of our suppliers, Commercial Group. This was of particular relevance, given the likely impact of our scope 3 supply chain emissions (typically up to 70-80% for an organisation such as WBD).” 

WBD Partner Sponsor for Net Zero, Jon Bower, also did a weekly vlog takeover, providing colleagues with an update on the firm’s progress and next steps. The week finished off with a call to action – encouraging the WBD community to participate, share their stories and suggestions and continue to contribute on our carbon emissions reduction journey.

Jon commented: “It was fantastic to see so many colleagues engage with our Net Zero Week activities. As a business we have been working hard to understand the impacts we have on our environment and encourage employees to learn how they can assist in reducing their carbon footprint.”

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the LSA as an executive member, working collaboratively with this fantastic network of law firms who share a commitment to improving our environment and make a positive impact through our operations as well as with our clients, many of whom share similar commitments.”

In their quest to achieve Net Zero by 2030, WBD has already made great strides. They have reduced emissions to below 1 tonne CO2e per employee (2012 figure was 2.93 tonnes per employee), reduced the space by more than 50% at their largest office in Newcastle (WBD moves into new sustainable office at Newcastle Helix), invested in LED lighting across all offices, and now recycle approximately 90% of their waste firmwide.

WBD has also continued to improve their EPC ratings in line with refurbishments of their offices – notably improved to a C in Bristol, B in Plymouth and BREEAM building in Edinburgh and Newcastle.