Lets face it, solicitors, despite being members of an ancient and honourable profession, with high standards of integrity and service, enjoy a fairly poor reputation along with people like journalists and politicians. Shakespeare had Dick the butcher (yes the butcher!) saying "First thing we do, Let's kill all the lawyers". So it wouldn't be surprising if firms of solicitors sought to promote a more positive image, yet most don't even publish Social Responsibility policies and those that do often use them to disguise advertising through sponsorship of the arts and widening the experience of junior staff, through "pro-bono" work as "Corporate Social Responsibility" or CSR.
At Johnson's we are different. We put CSR at the core of all that we do, from minimising our carbon footprint to providing free legal services, running campaigns and supporting socially useful activity.
We begin with our structure and methods of operation. We aim to operate a small "hub" with energy efficient heating and lighting, operation a flexible "chambers" structure with lawyers working from hot-desks, from home or from anywhere, using technology to form a virtual office and to some extent, a "virtual firm".
We seek to minimise travel and use the most environmentally efficient means appropriate, public or private when travel is necessary.
Consumable resources are conserved, reused or re-cycled whenever possible.
Some firms claim free initial advice as fulfilling a commitment to CRS, but in reality this is just a "loss leader" to bring work in. We recognise that, as lawyers we make our living out of selling our expertise to those who can afford to pay for it, but that there are many people who are denied access to justice through lack of means. Johnson's encourages its lawyers to provide free legal services in appropriate cases. We regularly give free advice and provide free casework services. This is normally provided in cases that we will not be taking on as paid work.
We also realise that our capacity to do work for free is very limited, as we are a commercial enterprise, so we look to alternative ways of addressing legal problems. Rather than deal with matters on a case by case basis, we strive to recognise issues that affect many and to campaign for policy changes and law reform. This can take the form of running our own campaigns, joining in campaigns initiated by others or initiating joint campaigns.
We recognise that some lawyers undertake traditional "pro-bono" work, giving free advice at local Law Centres or advice agencies and we would not discourage our people from doing this. However, our experience is that many firms use this to enable junior staff to gain front line experience and sometimes the services provided are of little benefit to the agency and it's clients. We take the view that in some cases agencies would benefit more from donations of money. We encourage staff to do an hour's work for their own clients, rather than spend an hour at an advice session and donate the fee earned to the advice agency. We would be happy to work with others on developing this giving concept further.
It can be seen from our Facebook Posts and our Tweets that we seek to keep out friends and followers up-to-date with developments in the law and also highlight issues of social concern around the development of and operation of the law.
Whilst we concentrate our efforts on causes that address the need for access to justice, we do recognise that there are other matters worthy of support and we will consider supporting other causes, including those that promote education, sport or the arts.