Corporations increasingly subscribe to the principle of corporate social responsibility. CSR is primarily based on the belief that a demonstration of concern for the atmosphere, human rights, neighborhood development and the welfare of their staff can make a corporation far more lucrative. And if not more lucrative, at least a far better place to work.
Law firms can study from corporate experience to develop their own social responsibility programs. Such applications can assistance law firms to do well by performing fantastic. They can strengthen the firm’s reputation and industry position. They can assist the firm identify with the culture and CSR activities of clientele and potential consumers. They can support lawyers and employees uncover additional which means in their operate and enhance as human beings.
In the words of the social responsibility Karma Committee at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck: Be type. Be generous. Be concerned. Donate time. Donate effort. Donate funds. Just come across a cause and give. You’ll rapidly discover giving is also receiving.
A panel discussion about how law firms can study about CSR and introduce some of its components into their own models was sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Legal Advertising Association. The system was held Might eight at Maggiano’s Tiny Italy in downtown Denver.
Panelists included Sarah Hogan, vice president of Barefoot PR Bruce DeBoskey, lawyer and founder of The DeBoskey Group, which focuses on philanthropic advising Joyce Witte, Community Investment Advisor and director of the Encana Cares Foundation, Encana Oil & Gas (USA) and Amy Venturi, director of community relations & karma at Brownstein. Moderator was Cori Plotkin, president of Barefoot PR.
At law firms, the item is the individuals – the lawyers and help employees who give higher excellent legal solutions. It is an easy fit. There are numerous ways that this ‘product’ can contribute time, talent and treasure to socially accountable activities.
Social responsibility: Focus and strategy
Law firm social duty is all about generating a difference inside the community and the profession, and within a firm. Even the finest efforts will make no impact if spread also thin. You cannot maximize the value of your contributions or inform your story if your efforts are as well diluted. To determine how to most proficiently invest its resources, a law firm requirements a social duty concentrate and a tactic.
Social duty efforts need to be genuine. Law firms and other entities need to always prevent ‘green-washing’ – telling a story that is aspirational, but not truly correct. Know yourself. Let your firm’s one of a kind culture and skills ascertain which efforts to pursue and which to stay clear of.
When examining your culture, never limit oneself to companion input. Law firms are tiny communities, virtually like families. Any work to define culture and social duty really should represent not only the interests of lawyers, but the interests of all levels of support employees. Efforts need to be meaningful all through the firm. The rewards to employee recruitment, retention and satisfaction can be outstanding.
DeBoskey outlined 3 sorts of neighborhood involvement and stated his belief that a very good social responsibility strategy involves components of all 3.
In a standard model, an organization ‘gives back’ randomly to the community when asked – as a excellent citizen, rather than for any strategic purposes. In a social duty model, these efforts align with the capabilities of the small business – like the legal expertise of lawyers. Every non-profit wants legal guidance.
At it’s most sophisticated, a social responsibility system entails working with your core solution – legal services – as a tool for social alter. Volunteer with organizations like the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver, or the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center.
A powerful focus makes it significantly simpler to make decisions. Encana, for instance, focuses its charitable providing method on issues surrounding its product — natural gas. Brownstein will donate funds only if the request comes from a client, or if a single of their attorneys is a member of the organization and on the board.
Law firms searching for additional tips can locate valuable sources within the Corporate Neighborhood Investment Network. blowing the whistle is an association for specialists whose principal duty is to manage neighborhood investment applications in a for-profit business enterprise setting.
Many corporations and a handful of law firms have actually developed separate foundations to mange some of their providing. A foundation comes with far more restrictions and distinctive tax procedures. As entities with a life of their own, nevertheless, foundations are additional likely than 1-off efforts to continue a helpful existence.
Social responsibility: Good policies make great choices
Approach and focus present the foundation for an efficient social duty policy. Most law firms are inundated with requests from excellent causes asking for their help. A policy aids you know when to say “yes” to and when to say “no.”
In the law firm model, exactly where all partners are owners with a sense of entitlement to resources, it can be quite tricky to say no. A keenly focused policy tends to make it a lot much easier to do so and keep the firm’s efforts on track.
Encana, for instance, makes use of a 5-step tool to determine the level of fit amongst a request and the company’s strategic objectives in the field of natural gas – with level 5 being the largest commitment and level a single the lowest.
Level five efforts integrate core solution or service and frequently involve natural gas vehicles and power efficiency initiatives applying all-natural gas. These efforts contribute to greatest practices and leading trends in the sector, although enhancing the company’s reputation as a leader.
Level four efforts focus on strategic partnerships and typically involve sustainable and extended-term options like workforce improvement initiatives, signature programs (which can be repeated in other markets) and multi-year grants.
Level three efforts include strategic grants to assist with projects, programs or initiatives made to local non-earnings aligned with natural gas.