As a part of WLG | impact, World Law Group interviewed member firms Bruchou & Funes de Rioja, Chandler MHM, and Faegre Drinker to discuss the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives within their firms. WLG | impact is an annual network-wide CSR initiative during which members complete community projects to address environmental and social concerns. These projects, along with the ongoing CSR initiatives of our member firms, not only benefit communities but also have the potential to strengthen firm culture, promote talent retention, and more.
CSR and Retention
Employers must evaluate how they attract and retain talent in an increasingly competitive job market. When deciding where to work, lawyers often consider a firm's values. Incorporating CSR initiatives that promote sustainability, help the environment, support the local community, and more into a law firm's culture can help recruitment and retention.
Bruchou & Funes de Rioja (Argentina) implemented several internal CSR policies to raise awareness of its commitment to the environment, sustainable development, and ethical business to address the competitive job market. The firm's Sustainability Commission oversees policies integrating economic, social, and environmental concerns into office culture and decision-making. These policies, together with the firm's Pro Bono Program, diverse and inclusive working environment, and spirit of innovation, are essential for recruitment and talent retention at Bruchou.
Chandler MHM (Thailand) is also taking steps to use CSR programs to retain talent. The firm says they have noticed that its lawyers feel satisfied when they engage in community activities. The firm's lawyers are helping to train the next generation of lawyers, doing pro-bono work, and participating in broader community development. For example, in May 2022, members of Chandler MHM traveled to Wat Tham Rong School as part of WLG | impact. They joined the teachers and students in painting classrooms and creating a school garden to grow vegetables. The level of engagement in the rural school program demonstrated that the firm's employees are committed to the program and enjoy participating. Chandler MHM says that these programs have become "a selling point in terms of recruitment" for the firm.
CSR initiatives are crucial for firms looking to attract and retain employees. A firm's values are constantly under the microscope of potential talent. When they see a firm supporting the community and engaging in sustainable practices, it signals to them that the firm has solid ethical values.
CSR and Client Relationships
Like employees, clients also seek out firms that have strong CSR initiatives. Clients want to hire firms that align with their expectations and values, especially concerning environmental and social issues. By implementing and maintaining CSR initiatives, firms can attract new clients and strengthen relationships with existing ones. Several of our member firms have adjusted their approach to CSR to meet and even anticipate the expectations of potential clients.
Bruchou & Funes de Rioja has noticed that environmental, social, governance, and sustainability matters have become essential topics for Argentina's public and corporate agenda. Several companies now include these matters in their decision-making processes when considering law firms or conducting business. The firm has recently implemented several Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives and practices to meet client expectations and transition toward sustainability. For instance, in 2021, the firm launched its Climate Action and Sustainable Business Platform, a new multidisciplinary legal team built on its consolidated practice in energy law, the environment, sustainable business, clean energies, green financing, compliance, and advice on ESG-related matters. This team meets the growing need of companies as they face these issues while conducting business. In addition, Bruchou & Funes de Rioja is also implementing its first sustainability report with a holistic approach to ESG and a long-term strategy. In 2022, the firm began its Business Impact Assessment process, the first step toward its certification as a B Corporation. By making itself more sustainable, Bruchou & Funes de Rioja can attract environmentally conscious clients looking to work with like-minded firms.
Chandler MHM has also noticed clients are embracing ESG principles and expect their suppliers to do the same. Potential clients have even asked the firm about its commitment to the community when considering working together. CSR is not just "nice to have" for the firm but is considered essential. The firm's ability to show a commitment to the community, such as its WLG | impact projects, is critical to creating and sustaining relationships with clients.
Clients are increasing their standards when selecting law firms. They often evaluate how a firm approaches CSR initiatives in addition to their usual criteria. To meet and anticipate these expectations, firms strive to make sustainable decisions and make community work a part of their everyday business model. By demonstrating to clients and the public that it is constantly evolving its CSR and ESG work, a firm can get and stay ahead of the game.
WLG | impact and Firm Culture
WLG | impact aims to connect World Law Group members and strengthen the network through community projects that address environmental and social concerns. The projects undertaken during this initiative not only improve the connections in the network but also influence the culture within firms. The program's goal is to take local steps to create global change.
Events organized internally in 2021 ("Bruchou Sustainability Week”) and 2022 ("Impact June in Bruchou") for WLG | impact prompted Bruchou & Funes de Rioja members to carry out environmentally friendly and sustainable tasks in their communities and workplace. These tasks included a series of sustainable awareness and action activities such as Bruchou Insights Webinars and Sustainable Initiative and Action Contests. Ines Lucena Maguire, a Senior lawyer in charge of Bruchou's Knowledge Management, says, "These activities have raised internal awareness of all the CSR initiatives undertaken in Bruchou. WLG | impact has strengthened teams and provided a clear and long-term strategy for all members to transition the firm toward sustainability and conscious consumption." By helping their community, employees also had the opportunity to work together and better understand the values within their firm. These actions and programs have strengthened the connections and CSR-oriented culture at Bruchou & Funes de Rioja.
For Chandler MHM, one of the benefits of supporting CSR activities like WLG | impact is that they provide projects that members can collaborate on, promoting teamwork. The CSR projects themselves are rewarding, as demonstrated by the high levels of enthusiastic participation. Jessada Sawatdipong, a Senior Partner at Chandler MHM, says, "CSR projects demonstrate that the firm is a responsible community member that values and has a long-term interest in developing the legal community and society." Engaging in sustainable and local projects has allowed Chandler MHM employees to grow closer while positively contributing to their communities. The collaboration amongst members and socially-responsible projects demonstrate to employees and the community that the firm has a culture that values team building and ESG.
Faegre Drinker (Illinois, U.S.A.) believes its CSR programs provide opportunities for its attorneys, professionals, and support staff to play an active role in making local communities better places to live and work. The native pollinator project, which began during WLG | impact in 2021, was forged by Faegre Drinker's ESG working group members and allowed them to take meaningful actions alongside their colleagues. As they continue to implement CSR programs as a part of its firm culture, Alison Kuipers, Regional Client Development & Marketing Manager at Faegre Drinker, says the firm "is eager to see the long-term effects of this and other CSR programs on its relationships with employees and clients in the years to come."
CSR initiatives are no longer optional in a society where employees and clients value environmentally and socially responsible law firms. Activities and projects such as WLG | impact attract and engage CSR-conscious talent and demonstrate a willingness to make a difference in local communities. As these programs take place over time, they shift a firm's culture to make staff feel connected and fulfilled through collaborative projects and sustainable changes. By continuously implementing and improving its CSR initiatives, a firm can differentiate itself in the marketplace, enhance firm culture, and do its part to make a global impact. Will your firm be a part of the change?