Law firms: Prove you are making a difference
Never before has the world needed people and companies to do the right thing quite so much. Climate change threatens the very fabric of our existence while the global pandemic is far from over. Yet while we live in one of the richest nations on Earth very few businesses put their money where their mouth is and actually try to make the world a better place for the sake of others and not just for PR.
One way businesses can prove that they are doing the right thing is to get B Corporation certification. This isn’t the second team of the Avengers but a badge for for-profit businesses that meet “the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose”. The B stands for ‘Benefit’.
Sounds good right? Well, you may be surprised – or not – to hear that just three law firms in the UK currently have B Corp status. Despite many a law firm heralding their pro bono work or their quest for justice, very few have followed up their press releases about putting the world to rights with actually becoming B Corp. Mishcon de Reya join the venerable list with Bates Wells, which became a B Corp in 2015 and Radiant Law which joined in 2020.
The not-for-profit B Lab organisation began in the USA, and now has over 4,000 members in 77 countries, including 500 companies in the UK. Yes, just three law firms out of 500.
As a legal PR agency we have often encouraged law firms to show their human side. This isn’t just for PR reasons, but because it’s the right thing to do. This is especially after 18 months of pandemic in which some brands acted abysmally when the world was struggling to cope. Wouldn’t now be a good time to show that your firm stands for improving the greater good? Mischon de Reya clearly thought so, but how many others will follow?
The legal industry doesn’t have a great track record. At the start of the pandemic we conducted our own research into how law firms had communicated their response to the pandemic. It showed that law firms could do a lot better.
Hot on the heels of our research came the shameful behaviour of some firms taking the government coin in furlough payments and then increasing revenues and bolstering partner salaries. Pretty disgusting behaviour and one that did not help the legal industry one bit.
The fact is that the legal sector does a lot of good for the most vulnerable of society. Firms do pro bono work and help those who need it most. But that isn’t what the public sees most of the time.
I say it all the time, but PR is simple – it’s about perception. Better than mere perception though is cold hard facts which Mischon have realised. There is no doubt that they are doing things right as they have the B Corp badge to prove it. In terms of legal PR that’s worth it’s weight in gold – but more importantly it’s the right thing to do.