Sustainability for Small Business

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How can environmental policy and social responsibility be a part of a legal firm?

Patricia Barclay established Bonaccord in 2007, a law firm solely focused on the commercialisation of scientific innovation. The firm has won multiple awards including several as UK Life Science Law Firm of the Year. While based in Scotland the firm supports clients all over the world. Bonaccord also provides consultancy services to a number of law firms in life science and related areas and to universities in technology transfer.

Three Ticks Accreditation

The Three Ticks accreditation by the local chamber of commerce had no cost barrier and small firms could take part in it. There was a challenge associated with getting the three ticks to a business.
The current environment policy of Bonaccord is reviewed when the business is reviewed annually. However, it does not have the externally challenging factor to do more for the sustainability of the business as the Green Ticks Scheme was discontinued [Earth Self note: it’s relaunching 2017].
An external standard or being a part of a community like the Three Ticks accreditation gives ideas to do things in areas that one may have not thought of before.

Sustainable motivations

Everyone when they set something up has in their own mind what the business should be like. Patricia wanted to create a holistic approach not just in sustainability but in the whole way that Bonaccord works, interacts with clients, and the services that are offered.
Most of Bonaccord’s clients are very environmentally friendly, even though some of them are chemical companies. They looking for ways to improve the community. It matters to them to work with professionals in other areas who care about sustainability.
Bonaccord’s environmental policy permeates in the work they do. Bonaccord has eliminated paper in their office. They are keen on Skype instead of face to face meetings. These small steps save time, money and extra stress.

Implementing sustainability

Bonaccord works with a lot of independent consultants, and they are constantly defining how they can do things together. For example, people do not have to be working in the same room even if working for the same project. The environmental and social policy has evolved naturally.
A lot of the clients are small businesses and start-ups. With money being a constraint, Bonaccord constantly thinks of how they can offer cost effective services.
They think of stripping costs without affecting the quality of the work. Eliminating the unnecessary automatically leads to sustainability.

Giving Back

There are two main ways in which Patricia and Bon Accord give back.
The first is Entrepreneurial Spark which is a startup business accelerator. Patricia mentors and introduces the start-ups to her network.
Sharing their connections with other people has benefitted Bonaccord and the businesses they serve the most. By introducing people to people who can help them, business gains momentum. It creates more deals and more wealth and more jobs.
The second is St. Andrew’s Clinic for Children, a charity that provides basic health care to children in the sub Saharan Africa. The charity is concentrated on de-worming which is a big issue with children in hotter countries. The charity helps under five-year-old children to thrive by looking after their immune system.

Key advice

Firms should start doing the little things and then build on those. Small practices like checking if lights are on, if hoardings are on when there is nobody passing by, by turning the heating down etc. always helps.
Firms can use cups instead of disposable paper ones, refill water bottles instead of buying, and eliminate unnecessary printing.
Talking to other firms about better ideas of sustainability also helps.

Impact on daily life

It is rather the other way around for Patricia where her personal life has impacted her ideas of sustainability. Her firm is a reflection of the way Patricia was brought up, the values of her parents. That includes doing things the way they should be done regardless of people’s opinion i.e. doing what one feels is right.

Nature Memory

Walking along the river Tweed with the family and dog as there is so much to see – the otters, the herons. Seeing the wildlife, having a sense of calm and being around family has been the most impactful.
Nature experiences constantly remind Patricia of the fragility of the environment we are in. it inspires her to do more to stop such practices as littering and killing animals.

Patricia most admires

Dolly Parton – because she has done everything her way

More and more people are looking at the possibilities of working collaboratively.Patricia Barclay
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