Why Legal Directories Should be Part of Your ESG Efforts


Law firms are increasingly under scrutiny in respect of their ESG positioning. Whether that’s on the part of prospective clients asking for key metrics, prospective talent looking to see if your values align with theirs, or even… the legal directories.

Thankfully, these all represent great opportunities. The fact that the legal directories—in particular The Legal 500’s Green Guide, but also Chambers’ Crisis & Risk Management Guide—are focusing in on ESG is a clear indicator of its importance to clients. And given the readership of these two guides, obtaining a ranking in either constitutes a real boon. Not just from a marketing perspective but also from the all-important credibility perspective.

Because where else could you get a free third-party approval?

Having your firm’s environmental management system (EMS) certified to the popular ISO 14001 standard is likely to cost thousands of pounds in audit fees. B Lab—the non-profit network transforming the global economy to benefit people, communities and the planet—charges B Corp certification fees annually, with these being set according to revenue. For the most profitable international firms, that’s going to mean upwards of £50,000. In short, third-party certifications come with a cost. Potentially a big one.

The alternative? Well, you could take the self-certification route. Perhaps you implement PAS 2060 on Carbon Neutrality, or ISO 14016 on the assurance of environmental reports, but choose not to have your approach third-party verified. The problem here is that clients and prospective talent will only have your word to go on. With the best will in the world, you’ll need to already have a lot of trust in the bank for that to be sufficient. If a client were deciding between two otherwise equal proposals and the choice was between a certified firm and a firm that could only claim to be doing good for people and planet, the certified firm would win. The label offers peace of mind. It provides credibility and assurance. It facilitates the client’s own reporting.

Back to legal directories, and The Legal 500 and Chambers are two brands with a strong reputation for trusted, independent research. Having your firm’s ESG performance rubber-stamped by The Legal 500’s Green Guide is one way to have your own claims backed up by a respected third party. And it’s free to play. This isn’t to say other certifications aren’t also a benefit and worthwhile, but the directories should not be overlooked as part of your firm’s ESG strategy.

Kidd Aitken’s offer

Start the conversation. Let’s use the Green Guide submission as a starting point. By the time we’ve finished, we’ll have reviewed all of your environmental sustainability initiatives; we’ll have been through your CSR, ESG or sustainability reports; and we’ll have a thorough understanding of your relevant client work. In essence, we’ll have done an initial audit on your ESG performance. We’re now in a great place to begin working together on your next steps in terms of the firm’s ESG initiatives. Not least because of our…

Sustainability Expertise. In 2023, we launched KiddAitken ESG, a sustainability consultancy dedicated to supporting law firms in their efforts to reduce social and environmental impacts. Our focus is on bringing people into the process: in particular, current and future talent and clients. We think that by engaging with all these stakeholders, we can move beyond pure metrics and reporting to create a movement for positive change within each firm. With talent and clients increasingly looking to partner with firms whose sustainability values match their own, it’s a strategy that perfectly aligns with the needs of law firms. The KA ESG team is led by Matt Cripsey, who holds an MSc in Environment & Sustainability and was awarded the Birkbeck Sustainable Futures Prize. Through our sister brand, KiddAitken Legal Marketing, we have an established track record of working directly with partners and management in over 200 law firms around the globe.