The environment matters to young lawyers like me

Katie MacLeod is a Trainee Solicitor with MacRoberts, and co-chair of the firm's Environmental Committee.

This article was originally published in The Scotsman.

As a fresh-faced, enthusiastic new trainee solicitor at MacRoberts, I joined the firm’s Environmental Committee within my first week. Joining a busy commercial law firm, I erroneously presumed that any thought of environmental work practices would take a back seat with more pressing matters to deal with, so I was delighted (and relieved) to learn that I was wrong on this presumption.

A firm committed to sustainable working practices

MacRoberts is one of the few Scottish law firms to have attained ISO 14001, an accreditation which now formally underpins and showcases the firm’s commitment to the environment. It is an internationally recognised environmental management certification used to monitor and manage environmental issues in the workplace, for which the firm put itself forward and achieved in early 2020. ISO standards require dedication to continual improvement – therefore, being ISO 14001 accredited ensures that MacRoberts’ environmental objectives will get more ambitious as the years go on.

From the removal of individual desk bins and ceasing production of 'glossy' marketing brochures, to our dedication to monitoring the firm's carbon footprint, MacRoberts is coming at its commitment to the environment from all angles. As someone who is dedicated to environmental and sustainable practices in my personal life, I was excited to take this passion forward into my professional life.

Fast forward five months, I am now co-Chair of the Environmental Committee, which is tasked with driving this commitment forward. I have been part of many committees in the past; however, I have absolutely no experience in chairing one. To help me find my feet and boost my confidence, particularly as a new start at the firm, I broached the subject of doing this alongside another Committee member. So far, I have found that dedicating a pocket of time throughout the week to Committee activities has proven to be extremely valuable to the overall incentive to stay on top of my general workload. I enjoy having a channel to funnel a different kind of energy into the Committee that isn’t necessarily required in the commercial law world.

MacRoberts Green Week

The first event that has been organised by the Environmental Committee since I have been co-Chair is MacRoberts Green Week. The idea behind Green Week is to promote a deeper engagement with environmental, ethical and sustainable practices in the workplace and at home. Green Week has previously taken place whilst all staff were working in the office, which made it slightly easier to garner support and enthusiasm for the challenge. Needless to say, this year required a different approach.

This year’s Green Week is being tracked through an app called PawPrint, where participants can choose to take part in challenges aimed at reducing their individual carbon footprints. The participant who reduces their carbon footprint by the largest amount will win a voucher. It is hoped that the impact of participants being able to track and monitor how their carbon footprint reacts to small changes in habits will inspire and encourage these changes to daily / weekly / monthly practices to be carried forward.

I am really relishing being co-Chair of the Environmental Committee and continuing to drive the firm’s environmental commitments forward. As an added bonus, working for a firm so dedicated to environmental and sustainable practices has been a welcome surprise that makes me feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief.

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