I just read about a recent Harris Poll of nearly 2,400 adults in which the results showed that Americans are less likely than they were in the summer of 2009 to be “green” and engage in various environmentally-friendly activities.
A comparison between the 2010 and 2009 surveys reveals that fewer Americans are now “going green.” For example, they are doing less now than in 2009 to:
- Use less water
- Purchase locally grown produce
- Purchase locally manufactured products
- Purchase organic products
- Compost food and organic waste
They are also less likely to buy energy efficient appliances, buy a hybrid car or switch from bottled to tap water. The study says, “Not only are fewer Americans behaving in environmentally-friendly ways, but many are now also less likely to embrace, or be influenced by, “green” attitudes. 36% say they are concerned about the planet they are leaving behind for future generations, compared to 43% who said so in 2009. And, only 28% of adults say environmental issues are very or extremely important to them when deciding how to vote for political candidates, compared to 36% who said this was important to them in 2009.”
What does this have to do with AmLaw 100 law firms? In the “2010 AmLaw 100 Websites: Ten Foundational Best Practices” research we conducted in August/September 2010, we introduced a Foundational Best Practice for the first time: Firm Citizenship. The attributes of this FBP are:
- Site has a statement of core values
- Site illustrates firm’s commitment to sustainability
- Site illustrates the firm’s commitment to diversity
- Charitable and civic commitment is described and evident
- Pro bono commitment is described in detail, highlighting specific stories and matters.
We can’t say that the AmLaw 100 firms cared less about green initiatives in 2010 than they did in 2009, because we didn’t analyze the AmLaw 100 websites in 2009. But only 26.6% of the AmLaw 100 firms discussed their sustainability programs on their websites in 2010.
Below is the list of firms that scored 100 (out of 100) on the sustainability attribute in this Foundational Best Practice:
- Bingham McCutchen
- Chadbourne & Park
- Davis Wright Tremaine
- Edwards Angell
- Faegre & Benson
- Hogan Lovells
- Kirkland & Ellis
- Latham & Watkins
- McDermott Will & Emory
- McGuire Woods
- Nixon Peabody
- O’Melveny & Myers
- Pepper Hamilton
- Perkins Coie
- Pillsbury Winthrop
- Sonnenschein (now SNR Denton)
- White & Case
As a group, for the Foundational Best Practice of Firm Citizenship, the AmLaw 100 firms scored highest on the diversity attribute – 94.1 on a 100-point scale (earning that category a ranking of “excellent”). No surprise there. Only 52.8 of the AmLaw 100 have a statement of core values (ranked “fair”), 57.5 discuss their charitable and civic activities on their sites (“fair”), and 89.6 have strong material devoted to pro bono (“excellent”).
In several discussions with corporate counsel over the last two years, they referenced their law firms’ citizenship – and that it mattered to them. I wondered, given the turbulent financial times, if they were more circumspect about strong values and relationship bonds — they wanted to know their outside legal providers were investing in the “right things.”
Given the Harris Poll, however, it seems that Americans are drifting away from green – and presumably certain buyers of legal services exist in this group. Perhaps they are investing more time, energy and money in making more of the other kind of green.