The Question: With All the Attention Focused on Being "Green," How Does a Firm with Clients That Are Not Considered Green Tout Its Own Program?

Article excerpt

Lydia Bednerik

Internal green programs are catching on in law firms, not just because they demonstrate good corporate social responsibility, but because they satisfy good business sense. Clients who do not share the green value should still appreciate the positive economic and business impact that environmental initiatives contribute to business operations, including employee retention and expense control.

Most of the specific activities of a greening program are simply smart business tactics--reducing consumption of resources such as energy, water, paper and other supplies; providing healthy workspaces; and improving waste streams. Once firms learn to communicate these aspects of sustainability initiatives, it is hard to find folks who react negatively. What client would encourage you to increase your energy bill and run your company less efficiently?

Firms with specific practice groups to serve clients in the green economy also struggle with the perceptions of their non-green clients. Some clients come to green issues by choice, some by force. Either way, as more industries face uncertain (and increasing) regulations in areas ranging from carbon emissions to green building ordinances, even companies that come kicking their feet will need expert advice. Marketers can give their firms the language and tools to communicate these messages effectively.

Lydia Bednerik is marketing director for Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP, which first earned its certification as a green business in 2003. She can be reached at

Dave Bruns

Today, "green" is more than a badge of honor. It's a requirement to succeed. All industries, regardless of product, must think about sustainability. From liability to lost market share, the cost is too high for corporations to fail to consider this global movement.

As legal marketers promoting a certified green firm or other green initiative, we must focus on maximizing the sustainability trends within our clients' industries. It's necessary to redevelop our marketing tool kits to leverage the bottom-line ROI of a sustainable practice and build sustainability into the firm's core values, while taking a subtle approach to promotion. For example, demonstrate your firm's sustainability commitment by reducing expenses billed to clients and cut your firm's carbon footprint by using technology (e.g., video conference versus air travel).

Don't forget the personal nature of sales within the legal context. While we promote firms, practices and industry services, the buyer is a human buying the services of another human. Humans recycle. Humans worry about the air their children breathe and the water they drink. Do we promote an anti-oil message to the oil industry? …