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A green practice is a good practice

News

Cite as: October 2009 83(10) LIJ, p20

Becoming green is easier for firms, thanks to a new Green Practice Guide.

Want to do more to save the world but think you don't have the time? Well, think again.

You could begin by shutting down your PC overnight, electronically filing court documents, cutting business flights and not over-ordering catering.

You could also avail yourself of the LIV Young Lawyers' Section (YLS) Green Practice Project - an initiative aimed at promoting awareness and uptake of green initiatives in the legal profession.

The Green Practice Guide, launched on 2 September and linked with the project, is relevant and easily accessible for busy people, and outlines some steps lawyers and firms can take to improve their environmental footprint.

YLS community issues committee spokesperson Melanie Szydzik said the project began after the Section identified a multitude of ways to green the profession, and a need to sort and synthesise the overwhelming amount of sustainability information available in the public sphere.

"The environmental impact of business practice has become a mainstream concern in recent years," she said.

"This has implications for lawyers - both commercial and professional. In initiating this project, we aimed to assist the profession in addressing this need. We believe that many firms have already started to move in this direction, and wanted to expand this practice as broadly as possible."

An April 2009 study by St James Ethics Centre and Beaton Consulting found 91 per cent of the 15,000 professionals surveyed believed organisations should formally commit to acting ethically, and 71 per cent of lawyers believed part of their ethical obligations was to be environmentally responsible.

LIV president Danny Barlow said young lawyers were keen to raise awareness in the profession of the steps available to create sustainable practices.

"Anyone who has seen the amount of paper generated in a typical lawyer's office, or seen lights burning in offices at all hours, will realise that there are simple things that can be done to make a difference," he said.

According to a 2009 report by 1E and the Alliance to Save Energy, nearly half of all workers do not shut down their PCs at night.

The YLS guide describes a green practice as one that sets objectives for environmental performance, minimises energy, water and resource use, minimises waste output and has recycling systems in place.

It should also purchase environmentally sustainable office products, reduce the impact of its built environment and encourage lawyers to engage in sustainability issues.

The guide gives several simple examples of how to achieve this, including utilising energy saving abilities of office equipment, using IRC halogen lights and using recycled paper, printing double-sided when possible and taking advantage of e-filing.

Other suggestions include walking, riding a bike or taking public transport to work instead of driving; reducing business travel, especially airline; using crockery instead of paper plates; recycling toner cartridges; promoting events electronically and reducing catering.

According to the Water Footprint Network, 140 litres of water is needed to produce one cup of coffee and 16,000 litres of water to grow one kilogram of beef.

Community issues committee co-chair Roland Dillon said going green went straight to a firm's bottom line and allowed increasingly brand conscious entities to redefine corporate culture around greater efficiency.

"We hope to promote awareness and uptake of green initiatives in the legal profession by networking and training lawyers interested in sustainability to improve their professional development and enhance innovation," he said.

"There is no reason why lawyers can't be leaders on sustainability, and we would like all of the profession to take on this challenge."

Ms Szydzik said young lawyers attempt to align their personal values with those of prospective employers and "this will only increase as sustainability continues to build momentum and the scarcity of jobs fades".

YLS manager Anna Alexander said the guide was designed to assist all profession members to green their offices.

Ms Alexander also encouraged all young lawyers to attend specialised training sessions on 14 October and 4 November which are designed to explain how the green techniques can be best implemented.

Supreme Court of Victoria Chief Justice Marilyn Warren was a special guest speaker at the Green Practice Guide launch.

Green Practice (page 84 of this edition of the LIJ) is also a regular LIJ column which examines how lawyers and law firms can become more sustainable.

To download the guide, see www.liv.asn.au/greenpractice.

Jason Gregory

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