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The Sustainable Solo: Are only megafirms ‘going green’?

October 11, 2009

A year ago I took a tour of a “green” megafirm in Washington, D.C.  There were entire walls of plants, the carpet was chemical-free, the roof was a veritable garden, and the floors were made of something that looked just like walnut but was actually made of old newspapers and apple rinds (or something like that).  It was pretty impressive.  The firm had successfully reduced their carbon footprint by, among other efforts, increasing their positive environmental contribution.  It was a multi-million dollar project, and well worth the tax benefits that they explained made it a financially viable project.  And many other firms are following the same path.

But what about solos and small firms?  Is sustainability something that is worth pursuing on a micro-level, even without the tax credits and high-profile PR?

In my opinion, absolutely.  Sustainability is not just about the planet, but is also about a commitment to efficiency.  Solos and small firm lawyers are in the best position to align their professional lives with their personal convictions.  In the same way that you are a steward of your client’s cases, you are a steward of the small piece of the planet than you occupy.  If you go through every day, throwing away mounds of trash just trying not to think about where it all ends up, this creates a culture of apathy.  This apathy and neglect will undeniably carry over into other aspects of life and practice.

By making conscious choices as to how to run your home or small-office practice most sensitively, you are, by contrast, fostering a culture of proactivity and responsibility.  And isn’t that the kind of lawyer you strive to be?  Someone that’s willing to confront difficult situations head on and get their hands dirty, if necessary?  It’s idealistic, I know, but accomplishing great things requires a bit of idealism here and there.

If you’d like to take responsibility and consider how you can improve your office practices on the eco-scale, check out How to Green Your Law Firm on Ecopreneur.  It’s general, but a good place to start.

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