Setting the Bar Greener
As chair of the Business Law Section’s Communications Committee at the Washington Bar Association, I recently edited the first Business Law newsletter edition focused entirely on issues of sustainability and climate change tailored to the interests of Washington business attorneys.
We solicited contributions from private attorneys, WSBA, businesses, municipalities, educators, nonprofits, consultants, and organizations that work exclusively in the areas of lobbying and educating business and public sector leaders on issues of sustainability. We asked writers to focus on environmental topics that business lawyers would (or should) be interested in – think green businesses, sustainable building, political change, shrinking a business’s their carbon footprint. We also sponsored a writing contest for law students on the subject of “Achieving Reduction of our Carbon Footprint: An Action Plan for Washington State Business Lawyers.” Lack of space precluded coverage of other pressing concerns, including Washington’s response to the Paris Climate Agreement and transportation.
The energy investment (you might say it was wind-powered) in seeking out quality contributions was substantial but so worthwhile. Every writer represents a sector of our community that is urgently trying to get us to expand our collective consciousness, dedicate more attention to the issues and actively move each of us to make greener choices in our law practice within the confines of good business practices.
Sense of urgency
In the course of this project, I have gained a profound sense of urgency about climate change. The proverb, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” applies to our actions and choices. Legal professionals have a unique role to model progressive change. Oregon’s leadership is an example worth reviewing – and adopting: see Six Tools for the Law Office on SustainableLawyers.org. I am seeking members of our bar to take the lead and collaborate with me on implementing a comparable set of objectives in our state.
Besides role-modelling change, we need to affect and facilitate change. It is up to us to advise, counsel and provide resources, and even incentivize, such as by offering pro bono or modified rates for entrepreneurs who need our skills in forming and financing a green business and showcasing established business clients who take significant steps toward carbon reduction and implementing sustainable practices. Risks, in this context, deserve to be rewarded.
I welcome your comments, feedback and action.