Sunday, October 7, 2012

Doing Something With Human Rights

We all would like to do what we love to do for a living. There are two steps to achieving that: finding out exactly what it is that you love to do; and step two, convince someone else that what you love to do is good enough that they will give you a wage for living.

Recently a friend asked this question: where is the money in sustainability in the legal profession? It’s a very fair question.  As a law student, I face the inevitable question of where I am to find income to sustain my own livelihood. I can take a stand in the business world, but with lack of capital and experience I am forced to take refuge in law to serve clients who would take sustainability seriously. It’s the best alternative as yet I can see, so it’s a choice I must take. The down side is there are professional boundaries a lawyer cannot cross in providing advice; ultimately, sustainability is in the eyes of the beholder. There aren’t enough beholders in the business market yet to make sustainability profitable. So the inevitable question “where is the money in sustainability in the legal profession” constantly taunts me.

This week, a Boston law firm, Foley Hoag, announced the launch of a Conflict Minerals Consortium, “a cross-industry group of service providers working to assist companies in meeting the requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission's new conflict minerals rule.”

I have been looking at Foley Hoag’s activities for a while now. They seem to be very focused on corporate social responsibility and environmental concerns. It claims to be the only law firm member to the Conflict Minerals Consortium and “will be working to advise clients on the legal aspects of compliance with the new rule, including the relevant securities law considerations.”  

(I feature two of their blogs here on my page: CSR and the Law, and Law and the Environment. See left column.)

I would love to work with this project, but I had never really seriously considered the option of working at Foley Hoag. They are doing good things in their region; and with their model, other firms in my region will catch on the buzz. I am here; my family is here. I am to be in this place to do what I can for these lands.

So when I should be confronted with the issue: how are you to find profit in sustainability in the legal profession. The question begs the very answer it seeks--I must find those beholders and form consortium of my own  to generate the conversation. As to proven path in the industry, I am happy to response: look at what Foley Hoag is doing with their clients.  


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