Travers Smith achieves ISO 50001

For LSA members Travers Smith, a significant milestone was reached this month with the achievement of ISO 50001 – the international standard for energy management. For most Law firms, energy management is an important subject and almost the entire source of scope 1 & 2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

“Attaining ISO 50001 has been a significant achievement for us,” said Paul Mullis, Sustainability Officer at Travers Smith, “The achievement sets the foundation for continuous improvement and going forward, our commitment is not only to maintain this certification, but to continually improve our energy management and performance.  With this understanding, we’ve been able to establish energy-saving campaigns and initiatives – directly reducing our Greenhouse Gas emissions”.

Careful management of energy use is known to have all sorts of benefits and has been at the centre of many LSA talking points over the years. The subject has again come to the fore in more recent times with energy costs more than doubling for many law firms, coupled with the drive to reduce scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions.

Paul is more than aware of the benefits to establishing a best practice methodology.

‘’Obtaining these certifications are not an end in themselves, rather, they are part of our broader strategy to implement sustainable practices and reduce our environmental footprint. We see these certifications as stepping stones to even greater sustainability achievements in the future.”

Engaging Your Firm and Clients with Your Responsible Business Agenda with the SDGs

Engaging Your Firm and Clients with Your Responsible Business Agenda with the SDGs

Sustainability, social justice, creating meaningful change – how do you accelerate progress within your firm on an international, national, business and individual level? How do you unify the strands of these vital agendas to encourage colleagues to break down silos and increase collaboration? Law firm Pinsent Masons found the answer lay with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (aka SDGs – sometimes also known as the ‘Global Goals’).

We spoke to Mike Harvey, Head of Responsible Business and Sharon Smith, Head of Learning & Knowledge for Climate & Sustainability at Pinsent Masons about how they harnessed the SDGs to inspire colleagues and clients to engage with their responsible business agenda. LSA member firm Pinsent Masons is a multinational law firm which specialises in the energy, infrastructure, financial services, real estate and technology, science & industry sectors.

Having signed up to the UN Global Compact, both Mike Harvey and Sharon Smith wanted to accelerate progress.

“We were both passionate about the SDGs and felt we should be doing more. The initial step was to raise awareness about SDGs – what we do as a firm, what our clients are doing and what we do as individuals.”


The Sustainable Development Goals are 17 interlinked goals designed to serve as a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.” They are ambitious and radical. They act as a comprehensive pathway and were the first of their kind to achieve global consensus, a magnificent example of negotiation and perseverance, a multi-stakeholder engagement process involving governments, businesses, intergovernmental organisations and civil society. It helps that they come with recognisable visuals which are engaging and easy to use. In fact the simple graphics are quickly becoming iconic.

“The SDGs are a useful framework to talk to our clients and suppliers – a common language that we all work to and a tool to build deeper relationships.”


“With things that are going on in the world it can feel like ‘it’s out of my control’. The SDGs can help people feel empowered. They can help people find purpose and meaning in what they are doing. It can help to build morale and a sense of community.”


Each of the SDGs represents a complex but important area. The team ran an internal survey asking, amongst other things, what is your awareness of the SDGs? Awareness was low, but they sensed there was an appetite to find out more. Mike and Sharon decided that the key to building an enduring and resilient campaign was to spend a month on each SDG, but not to be limited by this schedule. If one SDG remained relevant for longer, because of an international event or diary date, then the schedule would facilitate that.

Certain SDGs seemed to fit certain times of the year – for example SDG 2 – Zero Hunger was scheduled to coincide with Christmas and incorporated the work that they were already doing with food banks and schools. SDG 14 – Life Below Water, fitted in with Plastic Free July and SDG 13 – Climate Action ran alongside the UNFCCC COP.

An SDG Working Group including Mike, Sharon and members from the firm’s Spark Board and Responsible Business team was set up to work on campaign actions, and SDG Champions, including senior partners and managers at the firm, volunteered to champion specific SDGs. They used MS Viva Engage to share internal communications, including YouTube video explainers to engage with colleagues.

The team set KPIs to measure impact, the key one being – would individuals in the firm start talking about the SDGs independently of the campaign? Monitoring social media and internal comms they soon realised this was happening. That was a moment of celebration! The campaign, which both admit was a learning process, had evolved into a grassroots movement.

“We decided it would be a slow burn – a longer process. We wanted to combine the SDG campaign with other initiatives so they all joined up. We didn’t want this to be just another campaign.”


The campaign kicked off by using the SDGs as an umbrella to unite responsible business activities and raise awareness, but the team soon found that the framework was highlighting areas in which they could do more, which in turn inspired them to engage internationally and find commonalities so they could take action to plug those gaps.

Highlights of the campaign saw the London office being lit up in the colours of the SDGs and SDG icons, (including on flags, pin badges and visual media) being placed around the firm, generating conversations and galvanising action. The campaign engendered a feeling throughout the firm that they were moving forward as one.

Crown Place lit up in the colours of the SDGs

We asked Sharon and Mike what advice they would offer to a firm considering using the SDGs to amplify and consolidate their ESG activity.

“Just start! It can feel so big and overwhelming. The best thing to do is just start.”


“I agree with Mike. Try and find which SDGs resonate with people in your firm and just start!”


The campaign has been such a success that Pinsent Masons are planning to keep it rolling, revisiting a new SDG each month, given the constantly changing nature of the ESG landscape and the appetite within the firm to evolve with it.


If you have a sustainability success story to share with us please email [email protected].

The Legal Renewables Initiative Relaunches to Help Law Firms Cut Scope 2 Emissions during COP28

The Legal Renewables Initiative Relaunches to Help Law Firms Cut Scope 2 Emissions during COP28

Reducing energy consumption reduces your carbon footprint, lowers operational costs and has a positive impact on the environment. Because the greenest energy is the energy that we don’t use, the LSA already works hard to support firms to reduce their scope 2 emissions through implementing energy efficiency measures and educating the workforce. However, we need to keep the lights on and offices warm – so when we do use energy, we want to ensure that it is the greenest energy available to us with the lowest environmental impact. That is where the Legal Renewables Initiative comes in.

We are delighted to be working with Good Energy to capitalise on their expertise in this area. As the only UK based 100% non nuclear renewable energy company we believe they can offer additional insight and support to law firms when it comes to thinking about a switch to a green tariff. They have been placed at the top of Which’s Eco provider table for three years running.

“The availability of renewable power is surging, driven by the global energy crisis, declining costs and policy momentum. By embracing renewable energy, legal firms in the UK not only demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability but also pave the way for a greener future. Leading the charge in sustainable practices, they set a powerful example for the corporate sector, showcasing how businesses can be both ethical and efficient, ultimately contributing to a cleaner, more sustainable society.”

Tom Parsons, Director of Sales and Origination, Good Energy

The LRI is designed encourage and inform LSA members as they commit to switching to 100% renewable energy by 2025. However, switching to renewable energy is not always as straightforward as contacting your supplier and asking for a green tariff. Many energy suppliers claim that their energy is 100% renewable, but in fact they buy REGOS (Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin) from the open market without buying the electricity they relate to. Good Energy run differently, matching 100% of the electricity your business uses over a year with power bought directly from their community of over 1,700 independent renewable generators across Britain. See this blog  Not All Green Tariffs Are Created Equal for more information.

Not all green tariffs are what they seem

We want to help LSA member firms avoid greenwashing. So, as mentioned, while all green tariffs are a step in the right direction, some are definitely greener than others. Here are some questions that you can ask of your supplier to help you understand if the tariff you are on is truly 100% renewable:

  1. Ask them how much of their renewable electricity comes from power purchase agreements they hold directly with renewable generators​
  2. Does your renewables spend result in the creation of new renewables?
  3. Where are your generators based, how local are they to my organisation?​
  4. Does the offsetting scheme for your green gas help to increase the global supply of green gas, or does it involve something unrelated, such as planting trees?

Sometimes all that stands between you and the tariff you want will be understanding the language that your energy supplier uses.  Good Energy have created this glossary to help law firms decipher the language of green energy.

Once switched to a renewable source of energy, the next step is to reduce consumption. Throughout the winter the LRI will be offering content to help firms inform and inspire colleagues to save energy.

Charles Russell Speechlys Achieves ISO 14001 Certification

Charles Russell Speechlys Achieves ISO 14001 Certification

Congratulations to LSA executive firm member Charles Russell Speechlys who have successfully completed the last day of seven environmental audits and been recommended for certification for its ISO 14001 environmental management system by the British Standards Institute (BSI). The auditor noted that the environmental system had been well implemented and that operational controls over the firm’s emissions were well maintained.

Leanne Stokes of CRS and Stanley Rayfield of Achill Management being presented with the certificate at BSI (British Standards Institute), Milton Keynes.

ISO 14001 is an internationally recognised management system implemented to reduce an organisation’s environmental impact. It puts sustainability into the firm’s operations, giving its management team the tools to control and reduce carbon emissions. Eight out of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals directly link to ISO 14001, such as those related to clean energy; responsible consumption and climate action.

“The team were really engaged and it’s been a great project to lead on. Gaining ISO 14001 certification firmly puts best practice into the centre of CRS’s sustainability aims.”

Stanley Rayfield, who leads Achill Management’s work around ISO 14001

The certification demonstrates to a wider audience that the partnership has rigorous procedures in both managing its impact upon the environment and complying with environmental regulation, which is attractive to both potential clients and talent. CRS are building on previous successes, both with reducing carbon emissions from energy consumption and a previous win at the Corporation of London’s ‘Clean City’ awards scheme.

“The rigorous process of achieving ISO 14001 certification requires a whole firm approach, engagement from senior leadership is vital. For CRS to achieve its net zero target, sustainability needs to become cultural and that’s what this achievement will help us to deliver.”

Kerry Stares, Partner and Director of Responsible Business and Pro Bono, Charles Russell Speechlys

Charles Russell Speechlys have annual reduction objectives that include reducing both energy consumption and carbon emissions generally. BSI will independently monitor their success with surveillance audits at the three offices. We are confident that they will continue to build on this achievement and the LSA will be here to support them every step of the way.

“ISO14001 is not a tick box, compliance process – used properly it’s a powerful lever to create change for the better for the environment. For law firms, especially those who are members of the LSA, achieving the standard is a clear signal to clients, colleagues and other stakeholders that you are taking action on sustainability. We are delighted that many LSA members including Lester Aldridge, Linklaters, TLT, Womble Bond Dickinson, Taylor Wessing, Ward Hadaway, Burges Salmon and DLA Piper have been awarded ISO 14001.”

Amanda Carpenter, The LSA

If your firm is interested in ISO 14001 certification, please email [email protected]. If your firm is an LSA member and has achieved ISO 14001 certification is not listed above please contact us at [email protected].



Biodiversity Risk – the Legal Implications

Biodiversity Risk – the Legal Implications

By Jenni Ramos,

In mid-October the Commonwealth Climate Law Initiative (CCLI) delivered a workshop with the Legal Sustainability Alliance (LSA) on biodiversity risk for companies and organisations. This was the first part of a two-part series, the second, on the 15th November, will cover biodiversity risk in legal advice.

The workshop was a real eye-opener for me in demonstrating that the link between biodiversity loss and our work as lawyers is as real and deep as our impact on the climate crisis.   Our opportunities to influence and bring about change through our work with clients is just as great. We’ve known for ages that the two are interlinked but the workshop helps to show that we can and must broaden our ambition away from a sole focus on carbon reduction and apply the same principles and approach that law firms are developing to the challenge of biodiversity loss.


David Berry, Partner & General Counsel, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Both workshops feature key messages from the CCLI’s December 2022 report ‘Biodiversity Risk: Legal Implications for Companies and their Directors’ (summarised in this short update).

Biodiversity (the variability among living organisms) is a characteristic of nature that underpins the resilience of ecosystems, which provide services to business and society, known as ‘ecosystem services’.  Ecosystem services can be provisioning services (e.g. crops, wood or water), regulating and maintenance services (e.g. water flow regulation or pollination) or cultural services (e.g. recreation).

All of global GDP is somewhat dependent on nature, and for over half the economy this dependence is moderate to high. This dependence is often hidden in complex value chains spanning the globe. There is international consensus on the financial materiality of biodiversity risk, ranked by the World Economic Forum as the fourth most severe risk in the next 10 years and a facet of existing risk categories, manifesting as both physical and transition risks.  Biodiversity-related business opportunities (e.g. value chain resilience, identifying new products/services, responding to changing consumer and employee preferences, increased investor/lender confidence or access to new capital) may not be discovered without considering how each business interacts with biodiversity.

An example of the biodiversity risk and life cycle of the construction trade:

Biodiversity risks and opportunities arise through a company’s impacts and dependencies on ecosystems. Directors’ duties to promote the success of the company and to exercise reasonable care and diligence may require oversight of material biodiversity related risks, including in the context of disclosure and financial reports. Last week, Australian national news and the FT’s Moral Money featured an independent legal opinion by Sebastian Hartford-Davis and Zoe Bush which concluded that nature-related risks to Australian companies should be regarded as foreseeable now. The opinion recommended that directors of Australian companies need to identify their company’s dependencies and impacts on nature and consider potential risks these pose to the company. Similar conclusions could be drawn in other common law jurisdictions such as the UK.

Participants at last month’s workshop explored what this means in practice for law firms and clients as organisations that have impacts and dependencies on biodiversity. We explored the value chain of the legal industry and a hypothetical client, analysing where each organisation might indirectly be dependent and impact upon biodiversity. We discovered that the legal sector is indirectly dependent on ecosystem services through its office buildings (through embedded impacts of its construction and ongoing use), the utilities, paper, furniture, textiles and information technology hardware used when delivering its services, food served to clients, work related travel (both the energy used to travel and vehicle components) and the operation of software and storage of electronic information. Through all these value chain connections the legal sector also impacts on biodiversity and plays a role in ecosystem degradation. This is even without the legal sector’s potential ‘advised nature impacts’ (similar to advised emissions – see the Legal Charter 1.5’s Principle 2, The Law Society’s climate change guidance and an Uncertain Solicitor guest post). A brief look at client sectors such as real estate, pharmaceuticals and construction discovered an even larger range of impacts and dependencies, including those arising from agricultural and mining raw materials.

Next steps for lawyers could include running their own workshop with colleagues and clients to explore organisational biodiversity impacts and dependencies or attending our 15th November workshop to look at biodiversity risk through a legal advice lens. Participants will engage in practical exercises identifying biodiversity liability risks in a fictional case study and managing biodiversity risk with contract clauses.

A Whitepaper on Measuring Advised Emissions

A Whitepaper on Measuring Advised Emissions

Whitepaper on Measuring Advised Emissions

Matthew Gingell, Oxygen House.

This whitepaper proposes an innovative approach to measure the Advised Emissions of law firms, specifically focusing on quantifying the carbon footprint associated with the advice they provide to clients. With the growing awareness of climate change and the urgent need to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, it is crucial to consider the environmental impact of various industries, including the legal sector. By developing a comprehensive framework for measuring Advised Emissions, law firms can better understand and minimise their carbon footprint while contributing to sustainable practices and creating co benefits for clients and the planet. This whitepaper presents a potential methodology for assessing Advised Emissions at a client level but also identifies the requirement for:


  1. The creation of a Transition Factor Database for every Client sector and sub-industry that the legal profession advises;
  2. An industry standard Matter Attribution Tool that accurately measures the lifetime carbon effect of legal advice at a matter (transaction) level; and
  3. A Global Advised Emissions Summit to advance understanding and collaboration on key principles and concepts.