recycling environmental eco friendly law firms Above the Law blog.jpgThe latest post in our series on perks / fringe benefits isn’t a “perk” per se. But it is, like true perks, a non-monetary factor that some people may take into account when choosing between law firms.
The topic: eco-friendliness, or how “green” a law firm is. From a tipster:

I think you should do a feature on which law firms are promoting eco-friendly office environments / business practices. With the country’s increased environmental awareness, I think it could help both law students and attorneys decide where to work. Here are two examples:

1. Arnold & Porter: Details of their “green office” policy appear here.

2. Morgan Lewis & Bockius: They described their “program to promote an eco-friendly workplace” in a recent memo (reprinted after the jump).

We offer commentary on that memo after the jump.
Getting Law Firms to Boot Up to Green [Legal Technology News]

Here’s the MLB memo. Our comments appear in brackets.
(Emailed to the D.C. Office on Monday, August 7.)
Our Program to Promote an Eco-Friendly Workplace
Many have responded enthusiastically to the steps we’ve taken to “green” the Washington office. Your encouragement has led us to consider new ways to expand our efforts by promoting conservation, recycling and use of eco-friendly products. Here’s a current list of our 19 green-office practices – with suggestions of how we all can help.
1. We are going to install duplex (double sided) printing kits on many more of our high-volume printers. Over time, we hope to outfit most printers for duplex printing. If you’re given the option to print on both sides of a page, please use this feature for draft printing and in other cases where practicable.
[Double-sided printing -- who's going to do that? If you like to highlight or mark up your case print-outs, it's not gonna be pretty on double-sided paper. And we know how anal you all get about your cases.]
2. Our building is outfitted with micro-zones for heating and cooling. This is a great energy-saving feature, as small groups of offices or rooms can be heated or cooled without the need for operating the heating or cooling system of an entire floor. Our building engineers are making additional system modifications to improve energy efficiency even further.
[Okay, this is nice. Many of you who work for government know to stay away from work on the weekends during the winter or summer. Trying to get the heat or A/C turned on outside of normal working hours requires a signed order from the President.]
3. We have reduced the number of hours for operating the building’s heating and cooling systems.
[Even though, of course, they haven't reduced your billable hours. But look, as long as those "micro-zones" are working, it should be fine.]
4. We have converted most computer monitors from CRT to LCD models that use much less electricity.
5. We’re reconfiguring printers and copiers to “sleep” mode when not in use for extended periods of time.
[This is a pet peeve of ours. Don't you just HATE having to wait for a copier to warm up? We once heard a rumor about a how one Biglaw partner, who sometimes liked to make his own photocopies (of sensitive and short documents), wanted the copier near his office in a constant state of readiness. So his secretary would have to get up every fifteen minutes or so to "wake up" the copier.]
6. We’re considering motion sensors to turn off lights when a space is unoccupied, but you can help in the meantime by turning off lights when you leave at the end of the day.
[Oh no, this won't do at all! How can you give partners the misleading impression that you're still around, even if you left the building hours ago, if you can't leave your office lights on?]
7. We intend to follow the growing trend of replacing bottled water served in meetings with pitchers of filtered water for use in conference rooms. Otherwise, we’d end up discarding about 26,000 plastic bottles every year! (PS, the national average says that only 14% of plastic water bottles get recycled.)
[We know all about the bottled water crisis -- we read about it in Sunday Styles! But isn't pitchers of tap water kinda low-rent? And what if someone tried to poison it? Maybe use pitchers of water for internal meetings -- it's okay to poison the paralegals -- but bottled water when clients are around.]
8. When you have breakfast or lunch in the dining center, please use the ceramic dishes and stainless steel utensils in place of plastic containers and utensils. We can eliminate a lot of waste by doing this.
[Because you're not truly colleagues until you've swapped spit with someone.]
And, feel free to use these dishes if you take a meal to your office or desk. Simply stack the dishes in a nearby pantry (near the sink) and the housekeeping staff will get the dishes back to the dining center.
9. Please discontinue use of Tyvek envelopes unless appropriate (such as for documents being sent to clients). Paper envelopes should do the trick in almost every case.
10. Over 90% of interior lights in our building are equipped with energy efficient light bulbs, all of which will get recycled at the end of their useful lives instead of ending up in a landfill.
11. All of our printer and copier paper contains at least 30% recycled-paper content and we aim to increase this percentage.
[Of course, any good done by this is erased by how the library photocopies and circulates countless useless publications to all associates. When did I sign up for BNA's Energy Law Reporter?]
12. We now have recycling containers in every pantry making it easy to recycle plastic, glass, and metal (aluminum can) items. (Note: containers must be rinsed clean.)
13. We have paper recycling boxes for every office and in every copy
center. Please discard white paper, cardboard, and newspaper in any of
these bins. (PS, all shredded paper is recycled as well.)
14. Instead of discarding batteries in the trash, please place them
in the battery-recycling container located in the supply room on the 6th floor.
15. We recycle toner cartridges and purchase recycled products.
Use of Eco-friendly Products
16. Our dining center staff, evening cleaning crew, and
conference-center staff no longer use cleaning products containing chlorine, phosphorus, or other toxic ingredients, and all of our cleaning products are certified as eco-friendly.
[Just because they're illegal aliens undocumented Americans doesn't mean they're not entitled to clean with eco-friendly products!]
17. Long ago, we eliminated the use of Styrofoam products and now
use paper cups, wooden stir sticks, along with paper towels and napkins made from recycled paper.
18. If you choose to use plastic containers from the dining center,
please discard these products in recycling bins rather than with regular trash. We may, over time, consider replacement products that are biodegradable. Until then, please be considerate about minimizing use of plastic disposable wares.
19. We’re working with our vendors and service providers to maximize
use of eco-friendly products. For example, we avoid use of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in paints, sealants, and cleaning agents as much as practicable.
Thank you for your cooperation and support. I’d also like to thank Ken Rubin for focusing our attention on this important issue and Jim Dixon for taking the lead in developing our initiative. Please feel free to share suggestions about expanding or improving this important program.

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