DLA Piper is committed to making businesses better by helping clients and communities transition to and thrive in a more sustainable future.
This transition demands a rethink of how value and growth is defined and created. Companies increasingly understand that their long-term value depends upon their social value, how they respond and contribute to social justice, economic inclusivity and whether they are environmentally regenerative.
How can providers of professional services contribute to this transition? And what is the role of the lawyer in this new world?
Businesses are facing two related challenges. On the one hand, to secure their social license to operate, they must demonstrate a commitment to creating long-term, sustainable value, aligning their strategies with social purpose. On the other, they must navigate a complex and rapidly evolving landscape of ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) regulations and standards around transparency and disclosure. Law firms are uniquely positioned to help companies address both of these challenges.
"We must be fit for a future where success and value are measured not only by profitability, but also our impact on climate and society."
Simon Levine, Global Co-CEO
Legal teams are no longer just reacting to ESG issues but becoming involved proactively in integrating material ESG risks and opportunities in companies' policies and strategies. Lawyers are helping clients deliver their sustainability goals in a number of key ways.
At DLA Piper our aim is to support our clients on their social and environmental transition and for professional services one of the biggest sustainability challenges is to understand and assess how their work contributes towards this. Different sectors and geographies face very different sustainability challenges and our aim is to provide clients with a clear understanding of how, by working with DLA Piper, we are enabling them to take climate action or make progress on diversity or business and human rights.
For the time being, one thing is certain. The legal sector is on a sustainability journey, and there's no turning back. Here at DLA Piper, we're excited about the opportunities ahead.
Our S&ESG strategy and material issues
Material issues: For any business, the first step towards contributing to sustainability is understanding and then managing its most important social and environmental impacts. We recently gained insights into our own material impacts and sustainability priorities through a materiality assessment. We will complete the assessment by the end of 2021 and will base our next Sustainability Report on these findings.
Until our materiality assessment is fully complete, the sustainability strategy and priorities covered in the DLA Piper Sustainability Report 2020/21 are based on some of the preliminary findings of our materiality assessment and a long history of continuous informal stakeholder engagement, giving us a solid understanding of the areas we need to focus on.
Our strategy: Our Sustainability and ESG (S&ESG) strategy focuses on four areas – our people, our clients and suppliers, our environment, and our society. Within each focus area, we have defined specific issue areas that we see as priorities for our business to address and report on.
Like many of our peers, we are at different stages of maturity in addressing these key issues. For some, such as climate action and diversity and inclusion, we already have ambitious time-bound and measurable targets, while in other areas we are still working to assess our current performance and define our desired level of ambition.
To close this maturity gap, we are working to develop better data baselines for our current performance and to improve our governance and management systems.
Sustainable Development Goals
We support the UN’s Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We believe that business has a key role to play in achieving the SDGs, alongside other stakeholders. We are currently working to understand how our work contributes to our material SDGs at the target and indicator levels, and how we can better measure this. You can see the initial outputs of this work on p. 123 of our Sustainability Report 2020/21.