Global law firm Reed Smith announces the launch of its Global Environmental Sustainability Plan 2024. 

With measurable and transparent targets, the plan underpins the firm’s continuing commitment to evolving its operations and behaviours to drive lasting environmental sustainability within the firm, its communities and the legal industry.

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Reed Smith’s plan has an initial two-year focus, with the expectation that the firm will announce a revised set of targets and timelines as the initial milestones are achieved. Through this sustained global effort, the firm will build on previous environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and operate in a more sustainable fashion.

The plan is focused on three key initial priorities:

  • Reducing carbon emissions: In accordance with the best available science, the firm recognises that there is an urgent need to accelerate the transition towards global net zero emissions. Reed Smith is initially committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 20% by 2024. The firm will publish its progress against this target in order to provide transparency on this critical issue.
  • Recycling: The firm is aiming to make all products used across its global operations recyclable or reusable by 2024. It is taking active steps to reduce the use of single-use plastics throughout its offices and will train and educate its people to ensure they are equipped to adhere to sustainable waste management practices while working remotely.
  • Internal engagement: The firm will appoint two sustainability partners and two sustainability champions to drive the progress of the firm’s sustainability goals. It will also establish a ‘Green Team’ with representation from all its offices to ensure it achieves its sustainability goals throughout the firm.

Nick Bagiatis, Reed Smith’s chief operating officer, said: “We have a responsibility to act sustainably in support of our communities around the world. The firm’s sustainability plan reflects the shared commitment of our people to this endeavor. Our plan takes a holistic approach and establishes specific and measurable targets that will lead to impactful and tangible results. Our initial targets are an important first step on our journey to achieve sustainability.”

Reed Smith’s global environmental sustainability plan also contains a number of initiatives that will help to improve the firm’s approach to protecting the environment. These include:

  • Citizenship: All timekeepers can now annually designate up to 25 hours of work and activities related to sustainability projects as billable time. The billable-hour credit towards sustainability projects may be the first of its kind among global law firms.
  • Procurement: Reed Smith will undertake a review of all suppliers and work with them to ensure that their policies and practices are environmentally sustainable and align with the firm’s sustainability goals.
  • Investing in our environment: The firm will reinvest savings made through its sustainability policies with charitable organisations that help lead to a more sustainable world.
  • Ensuring firmwide sustainability: The firm will leverage best practices from its most sustainable offices, from recycling and procurement to waste management and travel, to create a gold standard that all of its offices can emulate globally. 
  • Client partnerships: The firm will host twice yearly roundtables with clients across industries to discuss developments, improvements and opportunities for Reed Smith to make further changes to enhance its approach to protecting the environment.

Sustainability billable-hours credit

Reed Smith’s enhancement of its billable-hours policy for all timekeepers to include work on sustainability projects is to recognise and reward the pursuit of sustainability. The 25 hours of sustainability-related leadership, advocacy, training and development will count towards the firm’s existing 140 hours of billable credit each year for non-billable work. This policy takes effect June 1 2022.

This enhancement of the billable-hours policy builds on the firm’s commitment to provide its lawyers and other timekeepers with wide-ranging development opportunities. Timekeepers may devote up to 140 hours of non-billable work toward billable credit each calendar year. These non-billable hours can be used for pro bono legal service, innovation projects (up to 50 hours) and diversity-related projects (up to 50 hours). In addition, associates can perform up to 50 hours of “development in action” that provide substantive on-the-job training that is not billed to a client.

Casey Ryan, Reed Smith’s global head of personnel, said: “The expansion of the billable-hours policy to include sustainability projects is another enhancement of our Associate Life initiative, which enables our attorneys to work on issues of critical importance while building leadership skills and expanding their skill sets. These experiences will further support their legal and professional development and yield key advances in support of sustainability.”

Qualifying activities for sustainability-related billable-hours credit include:

  • Serving in a leadership role on Reed Smith’s internal Green Team
  • Leading or organizing sustainability-related meetings and approved initiatives
  • Attending training programs or workshops that focus on sustainability
  • Participating in client partnerships related to sustainability
  • Joining in other external sustainability partnerships, such as the Net Zero Lawyers Alliance

About Reed Smith

Reed Smith is a dynamic international law firm dedicated to helping clients move their businesses forward. With an inclusive culture and innovative mindset, we deliver smarter, more creative legal services that drive better outcomes for our clients. Our deep industry knowledge, long-standing relationships and collaborative structure make us the go-to partner for complex disputes, transactions and regulatory matters. Now celebrating more than 140 years of service, our firm spans 30 offices with 3,000 people, including 1,700 lawyers.

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