A drive towards total corporate responsibility has seen James & Wells Intellectual Property become the first IP law firm in the world to achieve CEMARS® organisation certification, which requires it to set carbon footprint reduction targets.
James & Wells Intellectual Property has about 60 employees in its offices in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Christchurch, and last year embedded environmental sustainability alongside its long-held practises of social and economic corporate responsibility.
Partner Simon Rowell, who heads the firm's Sustainable Business Committee, says achieving CEMARS is a memorable milestone: "We are proud to be the first intellectual property law firm to achieve certification, reinforcing our place as a leader in the profession.
"We do IP work for a lot of companies which are at the forefront of clean technology innovation, and this has challenged us to examine our own processes and demonstrate our environmental commitment.
"The process of measuring and understanding our emissions has been challenging and exciting."
The firm's current carbon footprint is 296.35 tonnes of CO2e (equivalent to 1,267,000km driven in a two litre petrol car), of which the key components are work air travel, and energy use (mainly electricity and vehicle fuel). It has committed to reducing its emissions by 5 per cent a year for the first three years.
Simon Rowell says the business case for reducing costs such as electricity, travel and waste is also very clear.
"We now know our benchmark, and the measurement is one with the global credibility of CEMARS behind it. The environment's long-term health depends on all of us making the effort to reduce our carbon footprint, as companies and individuals."
So far, the firm has adopted video conferencing in all offices to reduce domestic travel, and the Christchurch office has become paperless.