Nixon Peabody LLP’s office at One Citizens Plaza in downtown Providence has joined the global effort to conserve energy and protect the environment, through a relatively new venture called the Law Firm Sustainability Network.
Boston-based Nixon Peabody, which has 1,400 employees worldwide, and 30 in Providence, is a founding member of LFSN, which last November submitted paperwork to incorporate as a nonprofit. The law firm is actively investigating a lighting retrofit of its Providence office, which could save the firm an estimated $8,000 annually, a 14 percent return on investment, according to Carolyn Kaplan, the firm’s chief sustainability officer.
Founded informally in 2011, LFSN has 26 participating law firms and legal departments, said President Peter E. Masaitis. He is a partner in the product-liability group for the Los Angeles office of Alston & Bird LLP and chairman of its national sustainability program.
“The LFSN is the group that is at … the forefront of sustainability initiatives, so, if a law firm cares about those issues this is the forum to be a part of,” Masaitis said.
So, why would law firms focus on sustainability?
Many businesses “enter strategic partnerships with nontraditional stakeholders to try to achieve a sustainability goal,” Kaplan said. Coffee makers have worked together to reduce the use of Styrofoam in coffee cups, for instance, she said.
“It’s the idea of uncommon collaboration between retailers and suppliers [who] understand how serious these global environmental issues are,” she said. “The same thing is happening in the legal industry. We’re not going to solve these huge global issues on our own. Only through collaboration can we really drive these global issues.”
On a practical level, as a group, lawyers generate a lot of paper, adds Kaplan, who sits on the LFSN’s board of directors. Their employees tend to engage in a lot of travel and lease offices, using a fair amount of energy day-to-day. So, the economic and business value of implementing sustainable practices has had strong appeal at member firms, including Nixon Peabody.