Environmental Sustainability Committee 2022 Annual Report
This Environmental Sustainability Committee Annual Report shares progress on the Firm’s environmental sustainability initiatives from 2022. The report addresses the Firm’s strategy, governance, metrics, and goals related to environmental sustainability.
Morrison Foerster has a long-standing commitment to the importance of environmental sustainability in the Firm’s operations. This commitment supports the Firm’s renowned practice area and pro bono work related to environmental sustainability that we undertake for the Firm’s clients. The Firm’s Environmental Sustainability Committee serves as the driving force behind implementation of the Firm’s operational environmental sustainability initiatives discussed in more detail throughout this report. Attorneys and staff across the Firm have joined together to participate in the Environmental Sustainability Committee and support a culture of environmental sustainability in the Firm’s operations. As co-chairs of this Environmental Sustainability Committee and members of the Firm’s Environmental Sustainability Steering Committee, we are proud of our progress in 2022 and look forward to sharing future updates on the Firm’s environmental sustainability journey.
Foreword/Letter from Environmental Sustainability Firmwide Committee Co-Chairs
To set the Firm’s environmental sustainability program on a path to success, in 2022, the Firm’s Environmental Sustainability Steering Committee defined the Firm’s environmental sustainability program mission:
The Environmental Sustainability Committee will strategically integrate environmental sustainability practices into the Firm’s operations and support the Firm’s clients in achieving their supply chain environmental sustainability goals.
This mission serves as a guide for establishing environmental sustainability goals and objectives and alignment of environmental sustainability activities firmwide.
Morrison Foerster has undertaken environmental sustainability initiatives for almost two decades. In 2006, the Firm engaged Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and GreenOrder to conduct an independent internal audit to ensure that the Firm’s workplace practices and processes supported a sustainable environment.
Reducing copy paper usage and purchasing copy paper with recycled or rapidly renewable content;
Based on the results of the independent internal audit in 2007, we formed an Internal Sustainability Committee (ISC) that pursued a variety of environmental sustainability initiatives. Examples of the initiatives pursued by the ISC over the years include:
Partner, San Francisco
Of Counsel, New York
Partner, San Diego
Chief Administrative Officer
Ensuring 100% secure paper and electronic waste recycling;
Pursuing sustainable facilities, including through LEED certifications and other energy‑efficiency projects that reduced electricity usage by approximately one-third between 2007 and 2018;
Participating in the former American Bar Association-Environmental Protection Agency Law Office Climate Challenge and earning “Leader” recognition within the program;
Procuring renewable energy for up to 100% of U.S. office electricity usage from 2014 to 2017 as an Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partner (formerly known as the Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Program);
Earning Bike Friendly Business certifications at several offices; and
Developing a culture of sustainability through an employee intranet site and Eco Pledge program.
Environmental Pro Bono work
2023 Strategic Objectives
Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Waste
Letter from the Co-Chairs
Environmental Sustainability Priority Issue Assessment
Environmental Sustainability Committee
E-Waste, Print Volumes, and
Secure Paper Recycling
Third-Party Greenhouse Gas Emission Software Platform
2019-2022 Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory Management Plan
Operational GHG emissions
Environmental governance and operational GHG emissions
12 15, 11
6, 7, 13
Attorneys and staff are encouraged to regularly visit the MoFoEco site, which provides updates on Environmental Sustainability Committee activities, firmwide environmental sustainability, and environmental sustainability news across the Firm. The site has a “Green Suggestion Box,” where recommendations and questions regarding environmental sustainability can be submitted for review and consideration by the Environmental Sustainability Committee.
MoFoEco Site and Green Suggestion Box
The Firmwide Environmental Sustainability Policy serves as a framework for the Environmental Sustainability Committee activities. This Policy covers the Environmental Sustainability priority topics listed above and outlines how the Firm has committed to address them. The Environmental Sustainability Steering Committee will review the Policy at least annually to assess potential updates to align with stakeholder needs. All staff and attorneys can access the Policy on the MoFoEco site, the Firm’s internal environmental sustainability program website. Starting in 2023, the Firm anticipates including review of the Firmwide Environmental Policy as an onboarding task for all attorneys and staff.
To encourage attorneys and staff to implement the objectives of the Firmwide Environmental Sustainability Policy, the Firm’s Environmental Sustainability Office Committees have developed “MoFoEco” pledges to compete to achieve the highest response rate by office. The pledges serve as an opportunity for the Environmental Sustainability Committee to assess opportunities to implement environmental sustainability practices unique to their offices, such as promoting the use of reusable silverware or utilizing nearby public transportation.
Morrison Foerster plans to update this environmental sustainability priority issue assessment on a biannual basis to ensure that the priorities identified in the most recent iteration of the assessment continue to reflect the priorities of the Firm’s stakeholders.
Identify existing environmentally preferable purchasing practices to formalize in a purchasing policy
Affordable and Clean Energy
Complete firmwide baseline greenhouse gas emission inventory for measuring progress and setting targets
To establish the overarching goals for the Environmental Sustainability Program, the Environmental Sustainability Steering Committee conducted an environmental sustainability priority issue assessment in Q3 2022 to identify relevant environmental sustainability topics for the Firm to focus on as part of its environmental sustainability strategy. The assessment included a variety of sources, including general and industry- and location-specific sustainability frameworks, standards, and certifications; client environmental sustainability reporting requests; issues addressed in legal industry environmental sustainability reporting; environmental sustainability regulatory trends; and feedback from internal stakeholders to identify the topics to be addressed in the Firmwide Environmental Sustainability policy. The environmental sustainability priority topics have been mapped to their applicable United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and action items:
Environmental Sustainability Priority Issue Assessment
For the past several years, we have integrated environmental sustainability as part of the Firm’s attorney recruitment process. For example, the Firm’s principles for procuring “swag” include selecting functional items that can be used repeatedly by the Firm’s recipients. When possible, we work with the Firm’s vendors to reduce packaging for these items. All of the Firm’s recruitment marketing materials have gone digital; for in-person events, we utilize a QR code to direct candidates to the Firm’s recruiting website rather than printing them out. We have previously incorporated options for making a donation in lieu of swag items or purchasing items from the Firm’s online gear store via a gift card. By doing so, we have helped to ensure that recipients will use the swag items they receive and that they can opt out if they do not wish to receive an item. The Firm’s online gear store also has a search filter for identifying “Eco-Friendly” options, such as plants and reusable mugs. In the future, we plan to continue to seek opportunities to purchase swag items locally to decrease greenhouse gas emissions associated with shipping items.
Attorney Recruiting Swag:
The San Francisco office has distributed reusable utensil sets to attorneys and staff to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics.
The London office participates in the Cycle Scheme UK program that offers cycle to work packages for attorneys and staff.
The New York office has introduced reusable utensils in its pantries to reduce the use of single-use plastics.
Minimize food waste
Donate viable food to Food Runners
Compost remaining food waste
To address remaining food waste, the San Francisco office has partnered with the Food Runners program to reduce food waste before it would otherwise be composted. Food Runners distributes food to people in need through local shelters and food programs.
At least 3,000 meals are served to staff and guests at the San Francisco office annually. While the San Francisco office takes measures to reduce food waste before it occurs, some food still remains uneaten.
Sustainability and food waste solutions at the Firm’s San Francisco office:
Currently, over 100 attorneys and staff across MoFo offices firmwide participate in the Environmental Sustainability Committee.
The Firm’s offices have identified unique opportunities to implement environmental sustainability initiatives.
Click the arrow on the right to view some examples of these initiatives to date:
Environmental Sustainability Committee:
The Environmental Sustainability Committee reports progress annually to the Morrison Foerster Board of Directors, including through publication of this Environmental Sustainability Committee Annual Report. Several members of the Morrison Foerster Board of Directors focus their practice on environmental sustainability-related topics and industries, including Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG).
Provides overarching goals for Environmental Sustainability
Develops firmwide environmental sustainability policies and strategies
Supports integration of Environmental Sustainability into Firm strategies
Identifies synergies across offices and opportunities for collaboration
Represents Office Environmental Sustainability Committee in firmwide discussions
Proposes subgoals and initiatives to support firmwide objectives
Reviews and provides feedback on firmwide committee deliverables
Supports implementation of environmental sustainability strategies and develops a culture of environmental sustainability within each office
Morrison Foerster’s Environmental Sustainability Committee, comprised of both attorneys and staff firmwide, offers guidance to the Firm’s leadership and the Morrison Foerster Board of Directors with regard to ES.
As we assess opportunities to reduce the amount of e-waste generated, we will also continue to take steps to procure Energy Star-certified and Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool-registered devices and appliances where feasible and applicable. As of March 2023, through the Firm’s partnership with the Firm’s MPS service provider, 100% of the Firm’s leased MPS devices are certified, and 87.4% have achieved at minimum EPEAT-Silver or EPEAT-Gold registrations. In addition, we procure 8.5”x11” white copy paper that utilizes 30% recycled content. The Firm’s San Francisco office has introduced a pilot program that utilizes carbon-neutral, rapidly renewable paper that the Environmental Sustainability Committee will investigate expanding further in 2023 through the use of more sustainable copy paper options in other offices firmwide (e.g., 100% recycled content).
Secure E-Waste Recycling
Secure Paper Shredding and Recycling
Note: Reporting on total shredding amounts for the following years and offices were not available. In cases where this information was not available, to develop an estimate, the average amount of paper shredding per square foot firmwide was multiplied by the office square footage. The percentage estimated per year by total firmwide square footage is also shown below.
2019: Berlin, London, San Diego, Palo Alto, and Shanghai (28.12%)
2020: Berlin, London, Palo Alto, and Shanghai (23.4%)
2021: Berlin and Shanghai (4.62%)
2022: Berlin and Shanghai (4.78%)
Print Duplex Rate for Managed Print Service Provider:
Compared to the duplex rate from the Firm’s MPS provider, this duplex rate is lower in part due to the use of these machines for printing court documents that must be single-sided. We will endeavor to continue to increase the rate at which we print duplex copies through our Environmental Sustainability Firmwide Committee.
Total Print Volumes 2019-2022:
The Firm’s duplex rate for prints and copies made with the Firm’s MPS provider is shown above. We also recorded the cumulative duplex print rate for 2019-2022 from printers utilized by the Firm’s document production staff, which is estimated at approximately 30.5%.
As a Firm, we remain conscious of the Firm’s resource consumption and its implications both upstream and downstream. While some of the Firm’s offices receive municipal waste metrics at the building level that are then allocated to the Firm on a percentage basis based on the Firm’s leased square footage compared to the total building’s size, the information obtained from the Firm’s e-waste and paper-shredding vendors is attributable only to Morrison Foerster.
E-Waste, Print Volumes, and Secure Paper Recycling
In addition to collecting and calculating data associated with the Firm’s GHG emission inventory in 2022, we have identified a
third-party software platform to support the Firm’s efforts in this space moving forward. This software platform will support the Firm’s Environmental Sustainability Committee in identifying and tracking the Firm’s GHG emissions reductions and areas of opportunity.
While GHG emissions have remained below 2019 levels, we are committed to continuing to make progress in achieving GHG emissions reductions as we transition to a hybrid work environment. Scope 3 GHG emissions have consistently represented the majority of the Firm’s GHG emissions since the Firm’s base year, and, as such, we will continuously seek opportunities to improve the measurement of these emissions with primary data and their reductions moving forward.
To reduce the Firm’s scope 2 market-based GHG emissions footprint, in 2022, we procured 4,712 megawatt-hours (MWh) of unbundled renewable energy credits. The Firm procured 50% renewable electricity for its U.S. offices in 2022. As discussed further in the Firm’s 2023 strategic objectives below, we plan to increase the percentage of renewable energy we procure for the Firm’s operations in future years. In addition, in 2021 and 2022 the Firm’s colocation data center providers procured 100% renewable or
carbon-free electricity associated with the operation of these leased facilities. We have also partnered with a managed print service (MPS) provider that has provided third-party certification of the carbon neutrality of their services to the Firm since April 2022.
Category 1: Purchased Goods and Services
Category 3: Fuel and Energy Related Activities 4%
Category 4: Upstream Transportation and Distribution 2%
Category 5: Waste Generated in Operations 0%
Category 6: Business Travel 22%
Category 7: Employee Commuting 8%
Category 8: Upstream Leased Assets 1%
Category 3: Fuel and Energy Related Activities 6%
Category 4: Upstream Transportation and Distribution 2%
Category 5: Waste Generated in Operations 1%
Category 6: Business Travel 19%
Category 7: Employee Commuting 3%
Category 8: Upstream Leased Assets 0%
Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (MTCO2e)
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The results of the Firm’s GHG emission inventory has been summarized below. Per the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, scope 1 GHG emissions are from sources owned or controlled by the Firm. Scope 2 emissions result from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heat, or cooling. The scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions below were calculated using the market-based method. Finally, scope 3 emissions include indirect value chain emissions. The Firm’s relevant scope 3 categories are shown in more detail in the figures below.
The Firm plans to utilize 2019 as its base year for its GHG emission inventory. As discussed in more detail below, we anticipate setting the Firm’s GHG emission reduction goals in 2023.
The Firm’s GHG emission inventory process has utilized a GHG emission Inventory Management Plan (IMP) to ensure a consistent, repeatable process in future inventory years and will be updated continually as data quality, collection processes, and reporting guidance and standards evolve. The current GHG emission inventory is based on the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard and Value Chain Standard and utilizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Inventory Checklist. This IMP covers considerations such as the collection of primary data, methods for calculating emissions, explanation of assumptions and estimates utilized, and data management processes. The Firm's GHG emissions inventory covers all the Firm's global offices, with the exception of portions of the Beijing and Shanghai offices’ GHG emission data due
to data quality.
Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory Management Plan
The Firm undertook a comprehensive assessment of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to understand its major sources of emissions and areas of opportunity for reducing emissions as part of developing GHG emission targets.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Analysis
Therefore, we have identified these areas as the Firm’s primary opportunities for monitoring and reducing the Firm’s consumption to, in turn, reduce the amount of waste we generate. Nevertheless, we will also continue to track and reduce other waste streams through the efforts of the Firm’s Environmental Sustainability Committee within each office and seek additional municipal waste reduction and diversion opportunities in 2023 through initiatives such as promoting use of reusable dishware and composting programs facilitated through the Firm’s property managers.
The Firm has a policy that 100% of e-waste and client-related paper material is recycled. The Firm’s e-waste recycler is e-Stewards and ISO 14001:2015 certified. As shown in the graphs below, the Firm’s paper consumption has dramatically decreased since 2019 and remained low in 2022, which we largely attribute to remote and hybrid work environments and the increased digitalization of the Firm’s business.
Category 1: Purchased Goods and Services
We began tracking e-waste recycling through a single vendor in 2021. As shown in the graph below, we securely recycled more e-waste in 2021 than in 2022, and, similarly, we also securely recycled more paper each year from 2019 to 2022. These results reflect moving out of several office spaces firmwide in 2021, which resulted in the recycling of additional materials. The substantial decrease in print volumes demonstrates that the secure recycling of paper is a lagging indicator of the Firm’s paper usage.
The lbs CO2e/MWh for the electricity supplier is zero; however, the energy resource utilized is largely hydroelectric.
The carbon neutrality service covers approximately 87% of the devices in the Firm’s current fleet.
*Updated figures reflect corrected data submitted to CDP in July 2023.
As demonstrated through the results of the Firm’s Environmental Sustainability priority issue assessment and GHG emission inventory, sustainable procurement represents a major area of opportunity for reducing both the Firm’s indirect and total GHG emissions. As a result, we plan to:
Expand environmentally preferable purchasing considerations to additional products and services;
Procure 100% renewable electricity for electricity consumed in the Firm’s U.S. offices in 2025.
Submit a commitment letter to the Science-Based Targets initiative for setting and developing a near-term science-based target.
Complete the Firm’s first climate risk and opportunity assessment (CROA).
Environmental governance and operational GHG emissions:
The Firm plans to utilize the results of its GHG emission inventory to develop a CROA that will inform strategies for achieving the Firm’s GHG emission reduction goals. This CROA will involve input from stakeholders from across the Firm and will support integration of environmental sustainability into the Firm’s overall strategy.
The strategic objectives below align with the Firm’s environmental sustainability priorities and build on the Firm’s 2022 achievements:
Set sustainable procurement targets;
Publish a supplier code of conduct that addresses the Firm’s expectations for suppliers with respect to environmental sustainability; and
Implement processes to assess the existing environmental sustainability performance of the Firm’s suppliers with contractual agreements and new suppliers, including the maturity of their GHG emissions tracking and reduction efforts.
Goal 12 and 15:
Goal 7 and 13:
A MoFo pro bono team secured a jury verdict for its pro bono client Inland Empire Waterkeeper (Waterkeeper), a program of the clean water non-profit Orange County Coastkeeper. Following a 2.5-week jury trial, the jury found thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act by the industrial polluter for discharges into a tributary of the Santa Ana River. It was the first jury verdict in favor of a plaintiff in a Clean Water Act citizen suit since the U.S. Supreme Court’s April 2020 decision in County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund.
Since 2016, a dedicated team of MoFo litigators has been working to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, spanning 1.1 million acres, from the threat of sulfide ore mining in its watershed.
MoFo worked with Climatize Earth to register its crowdfunding app with FINRA. The Climatize app will facilitate the ability of ordinary people to invest in small-scale renewable energy projects. In phase 2, MoFo will help Climatize seek regulatory approval to implement a “round-up” technology that will allow people to round up credit card payments to the nearest dollar and capture the round up amount to invest through the Climatize app.
MoFo lawyers are working with The Carbon Endowment (TCE) to structure and launch a
non-profit/for-profit structure that will allow the group to significantly reduce carbon emissions from coal by off-lining coal deposits while helping coal-dependent communities make a sustainable transition to a greener economy. The Firm also assisted TCE in a deal with Chugach Alaska Corporation to sell its Bering River coal rights to New Forests.
Power for All is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that advances renewable, decentralized electrification solutions as the fastest, most cost-effective and sustainable approach to universal energy access.
Power for All was originally a project of a UK NGO and was largely funded through the UK Department for International Development. When it decided to create
a U.S.-based non-profit, MoFo lawyers undertook the necessary corporate and tax work.
Lawyers in Morrison Foerster’s San Diego office filed a patent application for the World Wildlife Fund and its inventive partners for a device to dispense vaccine pellets to prairie dogs to protect this important food source for the critically endangered black-footed ferret. The patent application also aims to discourage individuals from using similar devices for purposes such as poisoning wildlife that are inconsistent with the Firm’s client’s mission.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) sought Morrison Foerster’s counsel to ensure that its Pooled Timber Fund complied with federal securities laws.
A San Francisco trademark partner is providing trademark advice to a non-profit architecture and urban design, research, and consulting group that promotes smart design in cities.
MoFo lawyers are recognized leaders in providing clients with strategic advice on developing and implementing sustainable business practices. But we also practice what we preach by partnering with non-profits that are breaking the mold when it comes to building a healthier, more sustainable future. From addressing climate change and protecting valuable land and water resources to jumping in when communities are affected by nature’s worst disasters, the Firm’s lawyers are doing their part to ensure a more livable world for generations to come.
We are one of the nine law firms that launched Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy, a groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind initiative to advance sustainability around the world. As a founding member, MoFo has contributed millions of pro bono legal services for projects addressing climate change since the initiative was founded in 2018, including $7 million in 2022 alone. Examples of the Firm’s recent pro bono work have been included below:
Pro Bono Work
Sustainable Cities and Communities
Responsible Consumption and Production
and Life on Land
Affordable and Clean Energy and Climate Action
Clean Water and Sanitation