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MCLE Self-Assessment Test

Lawyers urged to sign the Eco-Pledge

California lawyers are invited to sign the State Bar of California Eco-Pledge, which commits firms and individual lawyers to implementing such sustainable practices as reducing the use of paper, toxic chemicals, water and energy, promoting commuter incentives, recycling and using Energy Star appliances.

Beth Collins-Burgard, leader of the task force that created the pledge and sustainability guidelines and a member of the Environmental Law Section executive committee, said such a commitment is good not only for the planet and individual firms and lawyers but for business as well.

“A lot of clients are interested in hiring firms that are green,” said Collins-Burgard, of counsel at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which became the first private law firm to adopt the sustainability commitment. By signing the pledge and posting the logo on their site, they can provide tangible evidence that they are committed to helping the environment. Collins-Burgard also believes it won’t be long before firm rankings include their commitment to the environment.

Lawyers for a Sustainable CaliforniaThe pledge and a logo that firms may use on their websites when they have signed the pledge have recently been placed on the sustainability web page of the State Bar’s Environmental Law Section.

The pledge commits lawyers and their firms to assigning someone to implement the sustainability policy, implementing as many policy recommendations as possible, educating members of the firm about sustainability, encouraging law firm landlords and building owners to implement sustainable practices and review the policy and implementation efforts at the beginning of each year.

“The State Bar recognizes that environmental protection, climate change and related environmental and social issues are urgent problems that require action,” the pledge states. “The solution to these problems must include efforts by individuals, businesses and organizations – including the legal profession – to reduce their environmental impacts.”

The pledge and guidelines grew from a commitment to conservation of former State Bar President Jeff Bleich, the current U.S. ambassador to Australia, who created the sustainability task force.

Noting that California lawyers come from large firms, home offices, nonprofits with limited resources and countless other configurations, the bar “encourages its members to use their best efforts to achieve the sustainable practices set out in the Sustainability Policy.”