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Sustainability. What’s in it for law firms?

June 14, 2021 12:57 PM | Deleted user

By: Helena Lawrence

Sustainability is all the buzz – Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). What does this mean for law firms? Is sustainability a way to attract talent? What is the impact on your firm’s revenue stream? How does your law firm engage with clients on sustainability?

Before going further, let us get a baseline of our definition of “sustainably.” I like to think about it as making the world a better place for everyone and everything across the supply chain. It is more than just double-sided printing, automatic lights and LEED certified buildings. It incorporates ethics, inclusiveness, environmental considerations, basic good living for all and more.

Sustainability begins with the premise that profit and purpose can co-exist and it provides a framework that brings all the pieces together and creates a roadmap for law firms, companies and organizations to operate with economic, environmental and social integrity.

Goals & Objectives: What does your law firm want to achieve and why do you want to do it? Maybe your clients are asking what you are doing and the answer influences purchasing decisions. Maybe your executive committee decided to take a holistic approach to your business and wants to review and update business strategies? Maybe current and future employees expect the firm to address sustainability issues? How do you want to market your firm in the sustainability space – what is the story you want to tell? Identify your goals and objectives.

Baseline: Identify where your firm is currently on sustainability. Conduct an internal audit and undergo an issues and stakeholder mapping assessment to get a baseline of where you are currently and how that compares to what you want to achieve vis-a-vis stakeholder and market expectations.

Strategy and plan: Create a roadmap to identify the strategy and tactics to achieve your goals and objectives. Identify priorities, milestones, and tactic owners.

Communicate: Draft a marketing plan that incorporates your sales story. Come to a common understanding of your sustainability story and the contributions your firm is making so your sales team know how to sell your services and have talking points. Be authentic at every stage of your journey. Your audit will identify your strengths, and your roadmap helps manage milestones. Create a story and sales pitch for marketing your firm’s strengths. Be authentic and market your current capabilities and your aspirations, while making sure not to undersell or oversell your firm. It’s important to share the goals your firm has set for itself. Many firms are beginning to link their goals to the SDGs and setting a timeframe for achieving those goals (e.g., we will achieve gender parity in partnership by 2025 or 2030).

Lead: Inspire your firms’ stakeholders and communicate. Embrace your courage to take a stance on sustainability to make the world a better place for all, while maintaining a successful business that enables “good behavior.”

Businesses are organizing themselves around sustainability, ESG and SDGs and the law firms that incorporate these same values and organize themselves in a manner that clients understand are firms that will get the business.

There are frameworks such as DevryBV Sustainable Strategies Integrated Sustainability Framework (ISF) that take a system design mindset to the process by auditing where your law firm is currently, creating a strategy to get you where you want to go, marketing your story and working with you to inspire courage in others too.

Are you ready to embrace and champion sustainability?

Helena M. Lawrence, Owner, Sierra Marketing LLC

Helena Lawrence took the road less traveled and it led her to a career in marketing and business development in Washington, D.C. As the owner of Sierra Marketing LLC she provides sustainable strategy consulting for courageous organizations as well as marketing and business development services. 

Contact Helena at or visit

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