Lawyers, do you remember when you wanted to save the world? One Biglaw firm hopes that you still do — and they’re going to let you bill for it.
Reed Smith — a firm ranked at No. 28 in the most recent Am Law 100, which brought home $1,436,171,000 gross revenue in 2021 — recently introduced a program that will allow associates to count up to 25 hours of leadership, training, advocacy and development work tied to environmental sustainability towards their billable hour targets.
Reed Smith’s sustainability hours begin in June. Reuters has more information:
Qualifying work could include serving as a leader on the firm’s internal “Green Team,” organizing sustainability-focused meetings and initiatives, working on client partnerships or joining groups such as the Net Zero Lawyers Alliance, the firm said.
Law firms use annual billable hour targets to set performance expectations and allocate bonuses to associates and other salaried attorneys, who may bill up to several hundred dollars per hour for client work. Leaders at Reed Smith said they believe the firm is the first to count non-client sustainability activities in such calculations.
“It’s good, relevant work, which I think lawyers are looking for,” said Rebecca Hammond, the firm’s chief administrative officer.
It’s worth noting that not only do some of Reed Smith’s lobbying clients include ExxonMobil and Dominion Energy, but that Law Students for Climate Accountability gave the firm a “D” rating on its latest Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard, which the advocacy group uses to rate firms based on their representation of fossil fuel clients. Perhaps the firm is hoping that it may be able to turn things around for itself — and the planet — with its new program.
Reed Smith may be the first Biglaw firm to offer billable hours for sustainability work, but it certainly won’t be the last. Will your firm step up to offer programming like this? Please get in touch with us if and when it happens.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.