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FROM CSR TO PURPOSE - ONE LAW FIRM'S JOURNEY

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SUMMARY

This top 30 law firm had a significant CSR programme encompassing a registered donating thousands of pounds to more than 40 charities each year, targeted initiatives for staff to spend time helping those charities, community support and sponsorship of events, pro bono work, links with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and an annual commitment to plant 100 trees. 

However, despite having implemented a number of internal initiatives to reduce paper use, replace lightbulbs with more sustainable versions and signing up to the The Legal Renewables Initiative they were struggling to make a material difference to the way they operated. For many years this wasn’t a major problem but then their tendering and pitching started to suffer. Potential clients in both the corporate and public sectors were asking difficult questions about their operational activities and commitment to ethical business practises. 

Having appointed a sustainability consultant to review their operations and a specialist HR consultant to review personnel matters, they asked us to work with this external team to improve their internal and external communications. They also asked us to review their marketing activities and highlight any areas for improvement. 

WHAT WE DID

We started by conducting one of our marketing and business development audits. This looked at the firm from every angle, considering brand, values, messaging, client care (and selection), marketing communications and business development activities. Importantly, we conducted a digital client survey with supporting focus groups for key clients, during which we questioned them about their views of the firm, preferences for marketing and their priorities where responsibility and purpose were concerned. This was a great opportunity to challenge the firm’s values, mission and vision, to see whether the outside world really considered that they were delivering on it.

During this process we identified a number of areas for improvement and set them all out as a R(ed) A(mber) G(reen) report – the best way to highlight the things that are critical, important and going well, respectively. We were careful not to cross over into the reporting that the HR and sustainability consultants reported on but some of the suggestions for action included revising the values/mission/vision to better reflect and communicate a commitment to responsibility and purpose, changing the website hosting to a sustainable supplier, revising the key account management programme to better reflect the new values, introducing a blended annual report that includes impact analysis and reporting on the triple bottom line, introducing an employee forum to challenge management on strategic adherence to the new values/mission/vision, a full review of the charitable foundation’s work to consider how it is structured, funded and run (recommendations were made for profit share as well as partnership with with 1% for the Planet) as well as a full programme of internal and external communications (including thought leadership PR on the new areas of work we recommended) to ensure that everyone was informed (and engaged with) the new approach.

 

Until we met Helen and the team at ELE we had no idea that there was so much marketing to be considered with the move towards a more responsible way of working. We were amazed that the way in which we operated, communicated and managed relationships was so important to clients.