In July 2003, Wendel Rosen became the first law firm in the country (at least that we can find) to be awarded “green” status by a certifying agency (in this case the Bay Area Green Business Program), and joined the ranks of hundreds of Bay Area “green” businesses. In 2007, 2010, 2014, and 2019, the firm renewed its certification to ensure that we continue to keep our goal of running a sustainable operation.
In order to get to certification, the firm hired a consultant to present an educational series on sustainable practices to all firm employees. We developed a Sustainability Team comprised of attorneys and staff. The team analyzed all of the firm’s environmental impacts and made recommendations for areas of improvement. Some were undertaken immediately, and others will be phased in over time. A few of the changes we have implemented as a result of our internal sustainability efforts have yielded impressive results.
By demonstrating reductions in paper, energy, water and waste; increases in recycling; and other measures to lessen environmental impacts; the firm prepared for a series of audits conducted by PG&E, East Bay Municipal Utility District, the City of Oakland and Alameda County. The Green Business Program gave us the stamp of approval, and we became official.
In addition, Wendel Rosen was selected by the California Integrated Waste Management Board for a case study on how medium-sized law firms can reduce waste.
We know there is still a long way to go, but the firm is excited to be taking these steps in the right direction. We continue to review our operations based on The Natural Step Sustainability Framework. Under the leadership of professional sustainability consultants and the participation of firm employees, we constantly look for ways to improve our operations, including energy conservation, waste reduction, and incentives for mass transit.
Wendel Rosen attorneys are active in many community efforts to improve the environment and create sustainable economies. We promote “green” building and architecture, and we are leaders in local efforts to substantially expand the local agricultural economy to create a “greenbelt” around urban areas. In addition, our lawyers are active in many organizations and entities with influence over sustainable living issues.
On July 29, 2010, Wendel Rosen earned B Corp Certification, one of only a few law firms in the nation to receive this designation. Wendel Rosen was evaluated based on an assessment questionnaire, supporting documentation and an individual review.
A certified B Corp , is a relatively new form of corporate organization. In 2006, Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan, and Andrew Kassoy, founded B Lab, a nonprofit organization that certifies as B Corporations businesses adhering to true corporate social responsibility. To become a certified B Corp, a business must meet comprehensive social and environmental performance standards that are measured via a survey called the B Impact Rating System. The survey rates companies on products, practices and profits. B Corps strive to create economic opportunity, build strong communities and preserve a healthy environment. In addition, B Corps must expand corporate responsibility to include the interests of all stakeholders – employees, the community, the environment – rather than shareholders alone. An independent Standards Advisory Council oversees the certification ratings and audit requirements.
Currently, several states have ratified legislation recognizing Benefit Corporations, including California. Wendel Rosen was proud to be a part of the effort to pass legislation in our state. Donald Simon, a green business partner at the firm served on the legal working group that drafted and pushed the passage of AB 361 (Huffman). Click here to see an interview with Wendel Rosen attorney Donald Simon discussing Benefit Corporation legislation.
If you would like to know more about becoming a Benefit Corporation in California, you can review this PowerPoint presentation that Donald recently shared with an Green Chamber of Commerce audience.
Being a certified B Corp reflects how we go about ‘business as usual’ here at Wendel Rosen. As a pioneering law firm when it comes to adopting and promoting sustainable business practices in the profession, B Corp certification was a natural step. In 2003, we launched our Green Business Practice Group and became the first certified green law firm in the country (certification conducted by the Bay Area Green Business Program). The Green Business Practice Group donates one percent of its annual revenue to environmental non-profits through its membership in 1% for the Planet, and firm attorneys serve as general counsel to organizations such as Build It Green and the U.S. Green Building Council – Northern California Chapter. We also support numerous organizations that are committed to building strong local communities and nurturing businesses emerging in disadvantaged neighborhoods, such as Rebuilding Together Oakland, East Bay Economic Development Alliance and Inner City Advisors.