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It’s not easy being green � but some law firms are up for the challenge. A handful of firms are aiming to become more environmentally friendly by ditching their enormous stacks of paper in favor of electronic distribution and double-sided printing. Others are stocking biodegradable plates and forks or shutting down their computers more often. Some of the impetus comes as the American Bar Association, in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, launched an initiative last month geared toward helping law firms address climate change in their own offices. The initiative, dubbed the “ABA-EPA Law Office Eco-Challenge,” encompasses three previously developed programs: The first instructs law firms to purchase green power; the second suggests that law firms reduce their energy consumption by 10% by turning off computers more often or purchasing energy-efficient electronics, such as light bulbs and refrigerators; and the third encourages firms to have 90% of their paper come with 30% recycled content and to print internal documents on both sides of a sheet of paper. David Friedland, a director at Beveridge & Diamond in Washington and chair of an ABA committee that helped launch the “Eco-Challenge,” said the initiative is designed to boost law firm participation in the programs. “By having the ABA and the EPA team up together to publicize this, and give recognition to law firms that join, it was a push that should help a law firm manager think that this is something they should do,” he said. A firm signs up One firm that signed up is Washington-based Arnold & Porter. Jonathan Martel, an Arnold & Porter partner, said that his firm plans to use recycled paper, shift internal documents to electronic distribution and reduce toner settings on its 100 printers. The firm is also automatically setting its printers to double-sided copies. “If there’s one thing lawyers are known for, it’s using a lot of paper,” Martel said. The firm also plans to purchase offsets to compensate for its lawyers’ airline travel, he said. Two other firms have expressed interest in the “Eco-Challenge,” Friedland said. John Elting, executive director at the Marten Law Group in Seattle, one of those firms, said the initiative helps his firm raise awareness. “It provides a framework that will allow us to visibly do things that, in turn, will make them think about what their own personal practices are,” Elting said of the 20 lawyers in his firm. “Without something raising that visibility level, people are so busy they don’t think about it.” Biodegradable forks Some firms have taken their own initiative in creating environmentally friendly procedures. Farella Braun + Martel, based in San Francisco, began using recycled paper and biodegradable forks and plates in the past year. Kevin Poloncarz, a partner at Farella Braun who heads the firm’s air-quality and climate-change practice group, said clients and younger lawyers drove the change. “A lot of clients were becoming green-certified in some respects,” he said, and “there was an interest here from associates who were more in touch with what’s going on in the larger community to move us in that direction, as well.” With the “Eco-Challenge,” the firm is looking to accomplish the paper reduction goals by printing double-sided and shifting from 30% to 100% recycled paper, said Noel McNulty, facilities coordinator at Farella Braun. Donald Simon, a partner at Oakland, Calif.-based Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean, has encouraged fellow lawyers to practice environmentally friendly policies for the past five years. The 54-attorney firm has converted to 100% recyclable paper and has reduced its paper use from 5 million to 4.6 million sheets of paper each year, he said.

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