In today’s competitive world, firms that want to stand out from competitors need more than to simply have good lawyers – and while reputation has always been the key to any law firm’s success, the list of actions and activities that will reflect positively in your firm’s image is now longer than ever.
Increasingly Corporate Social Responsibility plays an important role in the makeup of a firm’s reputation, and has become absolutely crucial when trying to retain and attract new clients.
The trend is so strong that key global and national players are taking further steps to ensure they are taking responsibility for their community and the broader environment. While in the past they could sporadically take on pro bono cases as part of their CSR strategy, nowadays we see firms looking at their pro bono work separately from their CSR activities, and some even go as far as maintaining full-time pro bono teams.
Allens, Ashurst, Clayton Utz, DLA Piper, Gilbert + Tobin and Herbert Smith Freehills are the main players separating pro bono from CSR, though they maintain links between the two programs. As law practitioners, many believe pro bono should be at the very core of their work, as it allows access to justice for less privileged members of society. And it is this line of thought that also guides law firms in their CSR activities.
“A sophisticated approach to CSR for any law firm would usually lead a firm towards pro bono work as a core element of its community commitment. Whether motivated by a sense of corporate social responsibility or a sense of professional responsibility, pro bono must be at the centre of a law firm's community investment strategy,” says Nic Patrick, Global Head of Pro Bono and Corporate Responsibility at DLA Piper.
To further support their communities, law firms often donate and support charities, participate in blood donation programs, and charity activities such as fun runs and fund raising events.
As the trends show, not only community support is a priority for leading law firms, environmental sustainability gets plenty of attention, with firms taking action to reduce and recycle resources, committing to reducing carbon emissions and using energy more efficiently. Law firms are also participating in national and international awareness days, such as Clean up Australia Day, which happened for the 20th consecutive year last month, and Earth Hour, which is coming up later this week, on Saturday (25th March) at 8:30 pm.
If your firm is interested in expanding its CSR programs, why not start with Earth Hour? There are many ways of participating – find more information on their website: http://www.earthhour.org.au/home/