As many of you know, the Trust, Estate and Wealth Preservation Section of the firm is a very paper intensive operation. And, as many of you have observed, law offices are notorious for their wasteful use of not only paper but many resources.
Hello. I’m Dave Frees, and I Chair the Trust, Estate and Wealth Preservation Section of Unruh, Turner, Burke and Frees with our offices in Phoenixville, Malvern, and West Chester.
At Unruh, Turner, Burke and Frees, the firm and our practice section have been “Greening” the firm for many years now. Even when we did not have municipal recycling, for example, partner Doug Kaune was our resident enforcer of recycling glass, aluminum, and newspaper.
For the last five years, we have increasingly sourced recycled paper products and have been actively looking for ways to further reduce our carbon foot print. However, in a recent audit, and after some additional research you have helped us to identify and to detect a number of ways to further improve our efforts to reducing, reuse and recycle whenever appropriate.
So what is a green business, what are we doing and why does it matter to you?
Earth Share recently offered the following definition:
A “green” business strives to have a positive impact on the environment and community. It develops and practices business strategies that go beyond regulation and demonstrate commitment to a healthy and sustainable future. A green business adopts principles, policies, and practices that improve the quality of life for its customers and employees.
And that is exactly what we have been doing and what we are about to do even more aggressively.
For example, many clients do not realize, how many pages of paper are used until you sign the final draft of your estate plans. Many plans have over over forty to fifty pages of documentation ( and some plans including asset protection plans, trust plans, and even simple wills containing trusts for protecting your heirs from divorce and lawsuits run to the hundreds of pages of documentation).
And, we have often reviewed two to three drafts of some documents before they are even sent to you for your review and at least one more set will be produced as final copies for execution at your signing appointment. For those of you who have found typos of a misspelled name of “uncle Joe” in your wills, it may not seem like it, but before we are done many plans have used over two hundred pages or more of paper. Most of which is actually shredded and recycled already.
However, we are now conducting a more comprehensive audit of our many practices and procedure, as well as our products and have identified a number of new initiatives including but not limited to the following:
1. We are now sourcing a higher percentage of recycled paper without sacrificing the bright white appearance and acid free content that we currently use for your documents.
2. We are attempting to identify vendors who use and who offer more environmentally friendly products ranging from recycled paper in writing paper, document paper, and coffee cups to tissue, and will shift our purchasing to these “greener” vendors whenever possible without sacrificing our products and services.
3. We will use long lasting and green bulbs in light fixtures whenever possible. Although for the time being, some areas of the office are still lighted in incandescent bulbs for the comfort of our staff who must read in that environment for extended periods.
4. We are currently replacing computers and electrical equipment with more efficient models and are implementing policies of turning these devices to a dormant mode if they have not been used for 10 minuets or more (that rarely happens since we’re working on documents all day long!) and completely off at night so that they do not continue to use power after business hours.
5. We will be selecting and sponsoring educational programs in our community that offer real world education and actionable information to young people about how they can positively impact their local and global environment.
6. We are creating an employee green team and will be taking these initiatives to the entire firm.
7. We are actively seeking ways to send more to you electronically – such as the Estate Planning Questionnaire rather than printing it and mailing it needlessly. So, many of our documents, articles, and tools for our clients are now posted on line which saves paper and is often more convenient for the client.
8. We are using recyclable ink cartridges and are exploring the use of other ink products.
9. We also value your comments and input on this issue just as we do in all other respects. Many of our best client service policies originated with you. And, we hope that you will share suggestions on this topic by calling, emailing or leaving a comment below. Have a green strategy at your house or at your business that you want to share with us. Let us know.
Anyone who comments below with a suggestion, or who calls or emails with a suggestion will be eligible to win one of our new Green Law Firm shopping bags (to help you to avoid using plastic and paper bags when shopping, and one of our green suggestion books about how to make your life more environmentally friendly. Finally, our grand prize winner will get a check for $100.00 payable to a green charity of your choice.
So act now! You could be a winner and you’ll be helping the environment for all future generations.
For more information watch this video