Corporations increasingly subscribe to the principle of corporate social responsibility. CSR is based on the belief that a demonstration of concern for the environment, human rights, community development and the welfare of the employees are able to earn a firm more rewarding. And if not more rewarding, at least a much better place to work Law firms can learn from corporate experience to make their own social responsibility programs. Such applications can help law firms to do well by doing well. They can reinforce the company’s reputation and market position. They can help the company identify with the culture and CSR actions of customers and prospective customers. They can assist staff and lawyers find more meaning in their work and enhance as human beings.
In the words of the Social responsibility Karma Committee in Brownstein Hyatt Farber Scheck: Be kind. Be generous. Be concerned. Donate time. Donate effort. Donate money. find a cause and give. You will quickly find giving is also getting. A panel discussion about how Stephens Law Firm can learn about CSR and present some of its components in their own versions was sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association. The program was held May 8 at Maginot’s Little Italy in downtown Denver. Panelists included Sarah Hogan, vice president of Barefoot PR; Bruce Debase, attorney and founder of The Debase Group, which concentrates on philanthropic advising; Joyce Witte, Community Investment Advisor and director of the EnCana Cares Foundation, EnCana Oil Gas USA; and Amy Ventura, manager of community relations karma at Brownstein. Moderator was Cori Plot kin, president of Barefoot PR.
At law firms, the Merchandise is the people – the attorneys and support staff that provide high quality legal services. It is an easy fit. There are a number of ways this ‘product’ can contribute time, talent and treasure to socially responsible actions. Law firm social Responsibility is all about making a difference within the community and the profession, and within a company. The best efforts will make no effect if spread too thin. You cannot optimize the value of your gifts or tell your story if your efforts are too diluted. To determine how to most effectively invest its funds, a law firm requires a social responsibility focus and a plan. Social responsibility Efforts have to be authentic. Law firms and other things must always avoid’ green-washing’ – telling a story that is inspirational, but not really correct. Know yourself. Let your company’s unique culture and abilities determine which attempts to pursue and which to avoid. When examining your Culture, do not limit yourself to associate input. Law firms are small communities, almost like households. Any attempt to define civilization and social responsibility must represent not the interests of attorneys, but the interests of all levels of support staff. Efforts have to be purposeful throughout the firm. The benefits to employee recruitment, retention and satisfaction can be remarkable.