Law Society publishes climate change guidance for solicitors
The guidance includes details on greenwashing
The Law Society of England and Wales published new guidance for solicitors on climate change on 19 April, which aims to help firms, including solicitors’ practices, law firms and in-house employees, pre-empt climate change risks and carry out business competently and compliantly. The guidance is supported by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), but the Law Society is keen to stress that it should not be interpreted as the SRA’s regulatory position on climate-related matters.
The new Guidance on the Impact of Climate Change on Solicitors follows the Law Society’s Climate Change Resolution published in 2021 and comes in two parts: Part A sets out guidance for organisations on how to manage their business in a manner which is consistent with the transition to net zero and Part B provides guidance for solicitors on: (1) how climate change physical risks and climate legal risks may be relevant to client advice, (2) issues which may be relevant when considering the interplay of legal advice, climate change and solicitors’ professional duties, and (3) issues which may be relevant when considering the solicitor–client relationship in the context of climate change. The guidance also includes details on greenwashing both in the context of any statements their firm has made and any advice offered to clients. The Law Society will also be publishing further sector-specific guidance ‘in due course.’
Commenting on the new guidance, Law Society President Lubna Shuja, said: “The effects of climate change – even on legal practices – are wide-ranging and constantly evolving. Solicitors should be aware of this changing landscape and its potential impact upon their organisations, as well as on the legal advice they provide. We encourage solicitors to take the initiative to understand and pre-empt the climate legal risks with the help of our guidance. This will ensure they can continue to run their businesses and advise their clients competently and compliantly. Solicitors and law firms should consider how the way they practise law may be affected by climate change. They should make sure they not only operate their business in accordance with current and future climate-related regulations and legislation, but also correctly advise clients on climate-related risk. Our guidance sets out how organisations can manage their business in a way which is consistent with the transition to net zero.”