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Climate change - what are law firms doing to reach their targets?

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Net zero and sustainability targets have been in the news again recently. The ILFM asked some law firms, accountants and software suppliers to share their approaches to reaching these targets.

ILFM interviews law firms accountancy firms and tech suppliers about their Net Zero and Sustainability ideas

Shoosmiths’ approach to a net zero future

Corporate responsibility (CR) lies at the heart of our business strategy at Shoosmiths. Our ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) vision is to be the leading law firm famous for its positive contribution to society.

One of our key ESG priorities is a net zero future with a long-term science-based target to reach net-zero GHG emissions across the value chain by FY2040.

Our targets have been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a global body enabling businesses to set ambitious emissions reduction targets in line with the latest climate science.

Our annual Carbon Reduction Plans detail progress and plans against our 2030 and 2040 SBTi validated targets.

Our 2023/2024 net zero priorities are:

  • Targeting reductions in emissions from purchased goods and services and capital goods, which combined, represented 86% of 2022/2023 scope 1, scope 2 (market-based), scope 3 total emissions.
  • A continued focus on business travel related emissions.
  • Increasing the procurement of renewable energy above the current 93% achieved.
  • Continuing the firm’s commitment to improvements in the measurement, monitoring, analysis and reporting of carbon emissions.
  • Continuing to engage with colleagues on our net zero strategy and the role everyone plays to deliver our targets.

We also operate the Shoosmiths Foundation with one of our three areas of funding focus being to assist UK registered charities advancing a carbon net zero UK.

Decarbonising the business requires systemic change and it comes with challenges and opportunities.


  1. Extend accountability of the delivery of the net zero strategy beyond the team responsible for defining the strategy. Our net zero steering group meets every six weeks, chaired by the Director of People. Its purpose is to monitor progress, and ensure that actions are taken, tracked, reported and impacts assessed. Its areas of focus with senior management membership are risk, compliance and regulatory requirements, supply chain, estates, carbon data management, training, and internal communications and awareness.
  2. Ask the business up front where external expertise will be required and so where the business case has been made, use external expertise to help you advance more quickly and with greater confidence.
  3. Don’t get lost in trying to produce perfect data. Initially you will be focused on your direct emissions (scopes 1 and 2). However, as you extend measurement to all your scope 3 categories your organisation’s material emissions will undoubtedly be scope 3 emissions.
  4. Raise awareness and upskill your workforce. These are two very different requirements, and it is a business imperative that the workforce is equipped now and for the future and that the transition is a just and equitable one.

Further details about Shoosmiths’ net zero strategy can be found here:

Net Zero & Sustainability at Hazlewoods

At our 2022 staff conference, the partners at Hazlewoods set out plans to shape their future environmental policy. One part of this was to commission a report from an external consultancy firm to help us to understand their carbon footprint. With this valuable information, we could begin our long-term commitment of reaching ‘net zero’ by 2050.

The policy was broken down into short and longer term goals. Our recent progress has seen solar panels installed on the roof of our Staverton offices, significantly reducing the electricity consumption of the building (estimated up to 40%). Much of our office lighting has also been upgraded to LED units.  In the long term, we are committing to a SBTi validation process that sets targets for our decarbonisation, measuring our progress over time to reach the 2050 goal.

Another step we are taking is to look the broader spectrum of our suppliers, and the carbon emissions that they are producing to provide us with goods and services. This will help us to make more sustainable choices when it comes to procurement into the coming decades.  Our waste collection providers have a ‘zero to landfill’ policy, so we have already made progress on this.

The third element of our policy plans then naturally falls to our staff; firstly, the impact of commuting and general business travel. We recently undertook a commuting survey, which is helping us to shape our benefits and salary sacrifice arrangements. Our staff suggestion scheme has also lead to the successful implementation of a number of initiatives, including all IT equipment in our offices being shut down automatically outside of work hours, and tree planting at our Staverton offices.

Ultimately, our strategy for the future requires long term commitments by key management, in conjunction with a buy in from our staff to think about their impact on the environment in their day to day work.

What does net zero mean for legal software suppliers?

Paul Albone, Chair of the LSSA and former COO of TM Group (UK) writes

Having run businesses for the last 20 years, I have come to appreciate  there is always something to learn and that the depth of planning and investment you need to make can sometimes feel overwhelming. A recent consideration is the carbon footprint of our businesses and what we need to implement to reach net zero. Some 15 years ago, I renewed a contract with the host of a data centre and I paid that little bit more so that I could offset the carbon emissions of the energy being used by my servers. It felt like a good thing to do at the time, but fundamentally it was just an exercise in writing a cheque, if I am honest.

Nowadays our carbon footprints are far more widely discussed. This could be personally in relation to electric cars or to the number of flights we might take for our holidays, but also professionally - what your workplace is doing for the environment. This is just one of the five pillars of a BCorp business.

With the vast majority of LSSA members creating software applications, how does net zero work in a software business? This is especially relevant with our current ways of working, where the workplace is often no longer full and hybrid has become the norm.  Just as with the launch of a new product or business initiative, it must all start with a strategy.

That strategy would mean understanding your current patterns for using your premises, setting some goals for initial improvements and establishing a long term objective for what you want to achieve.  Fundamentally, you must communicate your plans and educate your workforce to get their buy-in, before, of course, measuring your performance against your goal.  Just as with any technical deficit we might have in our teams, we hire in the expertise where we need to, in order to set us on the path to success. Net zero is probably another case for taking the same approach.


If you are a law firm, an accounting firm or a supplier to the legal industry and would like to let us know your firm’s update on Net Zero and Sustainability, please get in contact with Karen Burton, Editor of Legal Abacus (ILFM’s magazine).