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Corporate legal advice and saving the planet may look like two very separate things. But the global seismic shifts throughout 2020 have convinced us that law firms must respond to the changing environment around them. Given its scale and influence, the global legal services sector is uniquely positioned to drive changes across industries and geographies. If lawyers embed sustainability into their advice, this could rapidly accelerate the uptake of sustainable business practices and help to create a better world for people and planet.

Speaking at the virtual UN Global Compact Leaders Summit this week, which connected over 20,000 people globally, a Hogan Lovells team advocated for integrating all 17 SDGs into legal advice. Over the past 10 months the team took part in the UNGC Young SDG Innovators Programme, alongside over 300 innovators from businesses across the world. During the programme the innovators learnt how to use the SDGs as a catalyst for positive change and collaborated with colleagues to develop a solution unique to the firm that will help drive the fulfilment of the SDGs through core billable work.

 

Currently, the traditional framework for law firms to engage with the SDGs is through their Pro Bono or Corporate Responsibility teams, and that alone is not enough. At Hogan Lovells, we are building a law firm that integrates the SDGs into all of our legal advice. This goes beyond good business sense. It goes to authenticity, hope and ambition. We want to help achieve all 17 SDGs by 2030, to build a better world.

 

Educating lawyers about the importance of advising on sustainability will be instrumental to making this change, and although the legal industry can be a traditional framework in which to innovate, it is capable of tremendous impact. At Hogan Lovells, we already advise on purpose-led business models and sustainability through our Business Integrity Group and Impact Financing practices. We want to further embed the SDGs and sustainability into our core legal advice to respond to the world our clients are operating in and to ensure that we are building the world we want to see.

 

Our vision goes beyond what Hogan Lovells alone can achieve when working with its clients. Within the next 5 years, the global legal industry is estimated to be worth over USD $1 Trillion. If we can embed sustainability into core business within the entire legal sector to advance the fulfilment of the SDGs, that impact could be systemic; it could be exponential.