Will Covid-19 make the legal sector greener?

In 2019, the UK government announced a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2050; only a year before, this goal was set for a reduction of 80 per cent but monumental pressure from individuals and groups meant tougher targets were implemented.

From 1970 through to 2017, the UK lowered its carbon emissions by 5,954kg (from 14,752kg to 8,798kg) and the goal for 2050 is to lower these figures consistently by 7,638kg, to yearly carbon levels of no more than 1,160kg. But, despite a diverse range of technological advancements, implementing new ways of life has proven to be very difficult. Only 36 per cent of people think that climate change is mainly or entirely caused by human activity.

However, this was prior to Covid-19. This pandemic has brought the UK, and indeed much of the world to a standstill. Vehicles travelling on roads are few and far between in comparison to a few months ago and large working environments have stopped using inordinate amounts of lighting and heating for the past twelve weeks. Because of this, the world is set to see the largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions.  An eco-friendly world is more possible than perhaps any of us realised; what does this mean specifically for the legal sector?

The virtual world

One of the biggest criticisms of the legal profession is its continuous use of paper. A traditional sector in many ways, many lawyers still rely on hard copies of all contracts, files and case notes as they believe they stand up stronger in court. However, since processes began to change and new laws were put in place, this need for reams and reams of paper is becoming redundant. The court of law now allows virtual signatures and online files.

Not only does this make it a lot easier for the lawyer, only needing to carry around a tablet or a computer instead of briefcases of files, it also helps the industry care for the environment.

Lysander has always been paper-free and we can vouch for the ease of a virtual office!

Transport

Transport makes up just over 20 per cent of carbon emissions in the UK, and with many cars on our roads and many choosing to fly regularly, it’s no surprise. But with Covid-19 shutting down our airports and stopping our daily commute, along with technology that allows us to stay connected with our workplace, frequent travel is being questioned.

For those in the legal profession, it’s important that we stay connected with our clients and it is still a role which requires a large amount of face to face communication. Nevertheless, it’s highly likely that the sector will encourage more use of alternate means of connecting and getting to those meetings.

The office

For some businesses, Covid-19 has forced them to re-think the office space and whether it’s a waste of resources and/or a necessary overhead; but for others, the office has been sorely missed and is still a must-have. We are certainly on the side of the latter! We enjoy having a hub where the whole team can be together, bounce ideas off each other and enjoy the social element of the working environment as well as a professional space for clients to visit.

However, the pandemic has opened up the conversation for many looking to return to the office on how their spaces can become much more environmentally friendly and sustainable. From automatic LED lights to strict recycling schemes, solar panels to keeping a close eye on the thermostat, the office no longer should be a drain on your bank account or the world’s atmosphere.