The Dallas office of Alston & Bird's Sustainability Committee promotes sustainability both in the office and the community. Front row, Deborah Carlton, D'Anne Kelly, Janet Steele. Back row, Sydnee Griffin, Chelsea Smith, Bradford Patterson. Photo courtesy of Alston & Bird.
May 18, 2015
A local law firm is making efforts become more sustainable with backing from a national green association geared to law professionals.
The Dallas office of Alston & Bird is a member of the Law Firm Sustainability Network, which has 40 members from across the United States.
The nonprofit organization is open to all law firms and promotes the benefits of environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility within firms and throughout the industry.
Peter E. Masaitis, a partner in Alston & Bird’s Los Angeles office, is chair of the Law Firm Sustainability Network as well as the chair of Alston & Bird’s Sustainability Committee.
He said LFSN was founded in 2011 as an informal platform for law firm professionals to share ideas, network and develop best practices and industry standards for sustainability in the legal profession.
Right, Peter E. Masaitis, a partner in Alston & Bird’s Los Angeles office, is the chair of Alston & Bird’s Sustainability Committee and chair of the Law Firm Sustainability Network.
Alston & Bird joined LFSN during its formative phase when sustainability was already a key component of Alston & Bird’s culture.
“I was contacted by a colleague at another firm who saw that A&B had a robust sustainability program in place who asked if I would be interested in helping develop a more formal network of sustainable law firms,” said Masaitis. ”I saw my involvement in creating the LFSN as a great opportunity to both learn from other firms and to help spread useful information throughout the legal industry that would assist and encourage other firms to green their operations.”
Locally, Alston & Bird has a sustainability committee in their Dallas office, chaired by Chelsea A. Smith, legal administrative assistant for Alston & Bird.
“The A&B Dallas Sustainability Committee promotes sustainable efforts through thoughtful and practical items of interest for presentations and volunteer opportunities,” says Smith. “Different topics we have covered include green cleaners, recyclable waste in our office and natural insect control.”
Smith says the organization invites all employees to meet representatives from the city of Dallas who share in the city’s green efforts.
“We are corporate members of Women in the Environment and attend several of their events every year to network and tell others about LFSN,” she adds.
She said when Alston Bird first moved to 2828 N. Harwood there was no recycling program, but it didn’t take long to make a change. The A&B local office helped to initiate recycling bins and found support from two other firms in the area to hold an annual e-waste drive.
“So far we have committed to six Terracycle brigades and regularly hold drives for unique items like Christmas lights,” Smith adds. “Serving the community is also important to Alston & Bird and the Dallas office participates in It’s My Park Day Dallas and Earth Day Texas.”
On the whole, the LFSN’s mission is to develop key performance indicators, foster knowledge-sharing, develop best practice guidelines and recognize innovation regarding environmental sustainability in the U.S. legal sector. Masaitis is passionate about his role in the group overall.
“My passion for sustainability tracks back to my youth, growing up in Portland, Ore., where ‘being green’ has always been a normal part of everyday life,” he explains. “As our understanding of the limited nature of our resources and the acceleration of climate change has matured, the need for strong sustainability programs has only increased. Everyone needs to do their part, and the LFSN’s mission is, in part, to help spread that notion.”
Left, the Law Firm Sustainability Network website offers resources for members.
For other law firms wanting to get involved, the membership process is simple. Member benefits include monthly meetings to share sustainability topics and solve problems; an online system to record sustainability case studies and projects firms are undertaking; a knowledge bank in which members have access to sustainability-related information, task forces, informative webinars and PR; and relationship building in the area of sustainability, to name a few.
The most recent project the LFSN is taking on is through the American Legal Industry Sustainability Standard, which the LFSN launched in conjunction with Earth Day. The ALISS Self-Assessment Tool is designed to help law firm’s measure the success of their environmental sustainability programs and discovery opportunities to improve their programs. Masaitis says it functions similarly to LEED and will result in a ranking that law firms can tout to communicate the degree to which their firm has attained sustainability in a transparent, understandable way.
“We believe by working collaboratively and giving firms essential tools and resources, we can have an ever greater impact on preserving the environment,” Masaitis said.