Freshfields outlines CSR policies in new report

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

claims to be the first international law firm to publish an externally-assured corporate social responsibility (CSR) report.

The report is organised under the general areas of law and ethics; people and diversity; climate change and environment; and community and pro bono legal advice.

The firm, which was cleared following an age discrimination claim from former partner Peter Bloxham by an employment tribunal last year, outlines its diversity policies in full.

The report also has a section on conflicts of interest that states: “We have a strong team of conflicts lawyers dedicated to identifying and analysing conflicts and confidentiality issues. This team actively monitors the acceptance of new clients and the opening of new matters.”

It then acknowledges the 2007 Solicitors Regulation Authority proceedings, which resulted from the firm’s role in the attempted takeover of Marks & Spencer in 2004. Consultant Barry O’Brien settled the case by volunteering to accept a fine from the Solicitor’s Disciplinary Tribunal.

The report, ‘Corporate Social Responsibility: Making a difference around the world’, covers each of the Magic Circle firm’s 26 offices worldwide.

An assurance statement by private CSR consultants The Corporate Citizenship Company said that Freshfields’ decision to make its report against Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) indicators, a UN-backed international sustainability standard, “marked it out from current practice among other firms”.

Freshfields’ joint senior partner, Guy Morton, said: “It is also intended to improve our understanding of the local and international markets and communities we work in.”

The data was also assured by the London Benchmarking Group of more than 100 companies working together to measure corporate community investment, and the firm’s carbon footprint independently reviewed by the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management.

Its chief assessor, The Corporate Citizenship Company, is a profit-making consultancy formed by the merger of CR consultancies The Smart Company and The Corporate Citizenship Company at the end of 2007.