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Lawyers Spew 13.5 Tons of Hot Air

The nation's largest legal organization is taking on one of the legal profession's oldest problems: too much hot air. Lawyers, of course, have a reputation for spewing hot air. That reputation, it turns out, is well deserved. All tolled, a typical lawyer is responsible for 13.5 tons of greenhouse gases each year. Roughly a third of that hot air comes not from a lawyer's words, but from the reams of paper a lawyer puts out.

Writing for the ABA Journal, Debra Cassens Weiss reports that a typical lawyer uses 20,000 to 100,000 sheets of copy paper a year. The production of all that paper generates up to 4.5 tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. On top of that, a lawyer generates six tons of carbon dioxide through electricity use and another three tons in commuting. All that makes for a lot of hot air and a big carbon footprint.

Hoping to reduce all that hot air, Weiss reports, the American Bar Association has teamed up with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to launch the ABA-EPA Law Office Climate Challenge. The challenge to law firms is simple: "Conserve energy. Support renewables. Stop wasting all that paper. Do something about global warming." The first firm to sign on was Arnold & Porter, which is working to cut its paper usage and which is offsetting its business travel through contributions to a carbon-offset fund.

To date, 20 law firms and legal organizations have signed on to the challenge. If this keeps up, lawyers might some day no longer be known for their hot air.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 20, 2007 at 03:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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