This chapter is from The Bundle: issue #4 - a quarterly, community-led publication that covers the latest need-to-knows by and for scaleup lawyers. Download The Bundle: issue #4 here for insights from Curve, Heineken, Beamery and more.
I founded Lawyers for Net Zero to address a specific problem.
Organizations are making huge announcements around zero carbon pledges to address the climate crisis - but there’s a big gap between those policies and action that will make a difference.
In-house lawyers are in a great position to do something about this in their businesses - you’re responsible for the legal aspect of a company, but you also have a strong cross-functional understanding of how the business operates. This is why we focus on empowering action through in-house lawyers at Lawyers for Net Zero.
However, if you’re part of a small legal team at a scaling business, it can be daunting getting started. What’s the first step, and how do you go from creating an action plan to implementing it in your company?
Alongside our Net Zero Action Principles and the networking opportunities we bring to our community of like-minded individuals (also known as champions), we also offer group coaching to help you to get started and build momentum.
“Instead of adding to the pile of knowledge, we make sure we focus on asking questions, resolving problems, and pointing lawyers in the right direction”
The value of coaching 🤗
Coaching is at the core of our work; we’re aware that many people want to get involved and take action, so the challenge we’re trying to solve is around inspiring people to build that momentum and create that impact.
We address this by hosting facilitated small group sessions every two weeks for our in-house champions - the lawyers involved with the initiative. We made our coaching sessions, which we call ‘champions groups’ as valuable as possible by:
1. Supporting lawyers to deliver Net Zero plans
The lawyers joining Lawyers for Net Zero have an understanding of the problem they’re trying to overcome, and a desire to do so - which is why our focus isn’t on sharing knowledge and resources through these coaching sessions.
In fact, too much information can be a bad thing - a quick Google search for ‘Net Zero’ delivers millions of results and can easily become overwhelming.
Instead of adding to the pile of knowledge, we make sure we focus on asking questions, resolving problems, and pointing lawyers in the right direction.
In these sessions we focus on:
- The personal action plan they made, and how it’s progressing
- The challenges they face in implementation
- Whether those challenges have been resolved
- And if so, how they resolved those challenges
These sessions support legal as effective business operators, with transferable skills around stakeholder management, project management, and so on.
2. Shifting legal’s perspective
The biggest concern I hear from in-house lawyers trying to implement a Net Zero plan is - unsurprisingly - around time.
Most feel like they don’t have enough of it to achieve everything on top of their day-to-day responsibilities. Through our sessions, lawyers can learn to frame the problem differently, and change their perspective.
I use the analogy of exercise – for example, say you’ve set a New Year’s resolution to get into shape. In order to do so, you need to exercise - but just having the intention to work out isn’t enough; you have to invest time into it.
That time isn’t going to magically exist, so you need to reprioritize and figure out what needs to give.
At Lawyers for Net Zero we are laser focused on making the time in-house lawyers invest highly valuable. The 30-minute coaching sessions are like a fitness boot camp for the ‘E’ of ESG, which also motivates the champions to do the necessary work in between sessions.
“Lawyers enable themselves to be champions, and we create an environment where they feel comfortable enough to take meaningful action”
3. Offering feedback from similar individuals
Our coaching takes place over four month cycles, in small groups of four counsel, with one facilitator who is an experienced business coach.
We start off with slightly longer onboarding sessions where the champions get to know each other, we share advice, and guided by the Net Zero Action Principles, they present a plan of what they want to achieve in that cycle.
They’re getting the benefit of both coaching, and peer-to-peer learning, being able to understand how other lawyers in similar situations are handling their approach to Net Zero. It’s also a great way for lawyers to give themselves permission to take action on these initiatives.
There’s a strong self-enablement aspect to our group sessions; if a lawyer has agreed to join our groups, they’re giving themselves permission to take an action plan and implement it - because there’s obviously little point in joining our coaching sessions if you just want to talk hypotheticals.
We don’t create the champions in our coaching groups - rather, they enable themselves to be champions, and we create an environment where they feel comfortable enough to take meaningful action.
Action drives belief 💪
If you’re a lawyer considering an initiative like Lawyers for Net Zero, I think it’s important to remember that this initiative will guide you, but you’re in charge of that empowerment - and it starts with small amounts of action.
In the earlier stages it’s best to have an achievable action plan so you can build up the habit of working towards Net Zero alongside your day-to-day tasks.
One of our core values is that action drives belief: by taking action, and getting results, you’ll start to believe that this initially daunting task is doable and well worth the time investment.
Before long, you may even start to build some climate expertise!
We plan to demonstrate the value and power of Lawyers for Net Zero to a wider group of in-house legal teams, through our champions, our resources, and our network. If you’re interested in finding out more, get in touch.
Want to hear more? Join our community of 600 lawyers and legal operations experts to get the latest insights, attend exclusive events, and network with some of the brightest minds in legal.