The law firm that’s advocating for the environment

Published on August 30, 2022

UAE-based law firm Al Tamimi & Company has become one of the region’s first to successfully obtain the ISO 14001 certification after implementing an effective environmental management system.

The firm, which has 17 offices in 10 countries, joined the Living Business programme to improve its sustainability profile. The programme offers corporate entities one-on-on strategic guidance on doing business without negatively impacting the environment, community, or society as a whole.

“Al Tamimi & Company prides itself in always taking the lead in global initiatives. That’s why we decided to gear towards a more sustainable approach in all of our offices and join the Living Business programme,” says Nina Gupte, the Director of Administration at Al Tamimi & Company.

“Obtaining the ISO 14001 Certification for our head office in Dubai was the first step toward making a positive impact on the environment. We are currently working on getting two more offices – in Abu Dhabi and Qatar – ISO certified by the end of the year and we are looking forward to having all our offices ISO certified by the year 2025,” she adds.

ISO 14001 requires members to adopt extensive (and costly) environmental management systems that provide assurance to internal and external stakeholders that environmental impact is being measured and improved. Al Tamimi & Company has teamed up with Globally, a for-impact organisation which facilitates companies in being environmental stewards, for guidance and support in implementing their EMS and applying for ISO certification.

Law firms have traditionally supported environmental action in an advisory capacity. They provide businesses with legal and corporate governance counsel. However, as global interest builds around net-zero targets, legal practices are beginning to examine their own contribution to climate change. Like other consulting businesses, law firms’ biggest sources of carbon emissions include excessive paper use, energy-intensive office spaces, and extensive business travel, according to members of the Law Firm Sustainability Network.

Over the 2019-2020 financial year, the UK’s top 50 law firms produced CO2 emissions equivalent to nearly 2,000 tanker trunks worth of gasoline from their domestic operations alone. Similar data for the MENA region is not available.

UK law firms’ annual emissions of 150,000 tonnes of CO2 produced would require 2.5 million trees to be grown for a decade to offset the gases released, according to data equivalency calculations provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

“We noticed we had a waste problem around five years ago. Back then, we were using around 500 reams of paper monthly in our head office alone. Slowly, we’ve started reducing our paper use and printing to come down from 500 reams to about 50 reams per month,” says Gupte.

Joining the Living Business programme helped Al Tamimi & Company to further improve sustainability across its organisation.

A recycling initiative with Living Business is expected to divert 1646 kgs of waste from landfill, representing a 50% decrease in total waste as a result of the project throughout 2022.

From secure printing methods to green office spaces to shared printers, occupancy light sensor installation in meeting rooms, and e-billing, Al Tamimi &Company has also implemented several eco-friendly strategies to reduce its carbon footprint year over year.

“A year ago, the organisation implemented a ‘clean-desk policy’, this is underpinned by staff using a booking system to reserve desks anywhere in the office on a daily basis, this has fostered more agile working practices”, said Gupte

Similarly, the company has transitioned to a more digital approach to doing business, in line with a global trend towards digitalisation in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Among these changes is taking a digital approach towards old-fashioned legal documentation methods.

Gupte explains, “We are slowly expanding our environmental, social and governance profile and are, taking the steps, internally and externally, to reduce our footprint. Our Dubai office is in an ISO-certified building in DIFC that implements numerous sustainability measures. We are [also] encouraging our clients and employees to take a greener approach, even on a personal level, towards their day-to-day activities inside and outside Al Tamimi & Company.”