27 February 2024

Independent UK law firm Burges Salmon is pleased to launch its latest Responsible Business report, highlighting the firm’s initiatives and collaborations to deliver for its clients, people and communities and support its transition to Net Zero by 2026.

The report updates on the progress made by the firm as it works towards the ESG priorities outlined in its Responsible Business Ambition 2026. The framework sets out the guiding principles by which Burges Salmon aims to deliver on its purpose to be the ambitious, sustainable and inclusive law firm that ensures its clients, people and wider communities flourish.

Notably, the firm’s commitment to being a responsible business was recognised in the Lamp House Strategy Responsible Business Annual Report, where Burges Salmon was named the Overall Leader 2023 and the only firm worldwide to rank in the top 5% across the three leaderboards – people, planet and governance.

Chris Seaton, Senior Partner at Burges Salmon, says: “Listening forms a critical part of how we deliver a successful and responsible business. We listen to our clients, to understand their needs and support them in transitioning to a sustainable future, we listen to our people to understand how we can build a better and fairer workplace, and we listen to our communities to understand the challenges they face and how we can work together on social value projects.

“Authenticity underpins our responsible business philosophy and as a firm we’ve always pushed and tested ourselves to be the most sustainable, diverse and inclusive firm we can be. 2023 has seen the firm meet some important milestones and we’re proud to publish this report today to update on how we’re delivering on our ESG priorities. Working side-by-side with our people, clients and partners, we’re taking collective action for a positive, equal and sustainable future.”

Burges Salmon’s five responsible business priorities are laid out below with some examples of the initiatives the firm rolled out in 2023, many of which have been externally recognised and accredited by leading organisations and industry bodies:

  1. Nurture wellbeing and engagement, to build on the firm’s safe, open and supportive culture and foster an environment of sustainable performance where everyone brings their true selves to work. With a well-established Wellbeing Action Plan, backed by active engagement from senior leadership and people-led networks, the firm focuses on emotional, financial, mental and physical wellbeing. In 2022 and 2023, Burges Salmon was voted Best Law Firm to Work At by Roll on Friday, an accolade the firm has retained in 2024. The survey is based on direct feedback from over 650 people working at the firm. Last year also saw the firm sharpen its focus on mental wellbeing with 52 mental health first aiders trained at the firm and a firmwide and free roll-out of mental wellbeing app Headspace.
  2. Deliver Net Zero and sustainable communities. Burges Salmon was amongst the first in the UK legal profession to announce its commitment to being a Net Zero business by 2026, and the firm is well on track to deliver on its promise through a combination of continued energy reductions, efficiency gains and investment in high-quality carbon offsetting projects. The firm’s commitment to, and expertise in, climate change, sustainability, and governance was recognised in The Legal 500 Green Guide highlighting how it is leading the way on ESG and Green Change through both its own responsible business priorities and the work it does for its clients on first-of-a-kind renewables, decarbonisation and energy transition projects. The firm is also involved with, and a member of, organisations like the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Trees for Life.
  3. Progress social mobility and inclusivity, to build a genuinely accessible and inclusive workplace for all its people and create new opportunities to make the legal sector more accessible. Recognised in the Top 75 Social Mobility Employers Index, a particular focus of the firm this year has been to support disability inclusion, demonstrated by its pioneering recruitment programme, the ‘Enabled Candidate Scheme’, as well as its accreditation as a Disability Confident Leader. The programmes were cited as ‘exemplary’ in the Lamp House Strategy report and the firm was also named Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Champion at the 2023 Bristol Law Society Awards. Committed to opening new routes into law careers, Burges Salmon has pioneered the introduction of legal apprenticeships since 2016, and today employs 27 apprentices with the first cohort of solicitor apprentices who qualified last September. The firm also set up diversity mentoring schemes with both the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England and, as part of its work with IntoUniversity, the firm provided corporate mentoring opportunities for students based in the Edinburgh and Glasgow campuses.
  4. Provide fair employment opportunity and support employability and skills development. Linked to its diversity and inclusion agenda, Burges Salmon partners with community organisations to support inclusive employment. For example, through a collaboration with Women’s Work Lab, the firm offers annual work placements to help unemployed mums gain experience; and, as part of its engagement with The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, Business in the Community, the firm leads the Employability and Skills Taskforce in the South West. This collaboration culminated in 2023 with the creation and funding of an Employability and Skills Partnership with the Wellspring Settlement, a charity supporting the Lawrence Hill community in Bristol, where there is a higher-than-average level of unemployment. Part of this work included an extensive consultation process with community members to understand the current gaps between employers and those seeking careers, with the view to co-creating an employability programme in the first half of 2024 to bridge these gaps. Last year, the firm was also named in The Times Top 50 Employers for Gender Equality for the third year running.
  5. Collaborate for collective impact. The firm collaborates with charity partners, clients, communities and suppliers to deliver higher levels of social impact. It works with over 60 charity partners across the UK, including Edinburgh-based The Yard, a charity supporting disabled children through adventure play; and as part of the firm’s Charitable Theme ‘No Child Goes Hungry’, Burges Salmon has worked with organisations in England and Scotland. In 2023, the firm partnered with music charity Bristol Beacon to organise a talent show raising £23,000 to tackle food poverty in the community. Elsewhere, as part of its efforts to promote biodiversity, Burges Salmon volunteered at the Royal Zoological Society for Scotland and Edinburgh Zoo and collaborated with Lawrence Weston Community farm to establish its own beehive. Leveraging the power of the many, Burges Salmon also collaborates with other law firms to lead the legal sector through its Net Zero transition and has co-created the Bristol Future Talent Partnership to tackle inequality of opportunities.

Burges Salmon’s responsible business report also highlights how the firm has been working with clients to deliver large ESG-focused projects including: supporting Oxygen Conservation on its vision to ‘Scale Conservation’ across the UK; working with Bluefield Solar on transactions that seek to support the UK’s solar transition, guiding aviation fuel producer Firefly through a multi-million pound investment for the supply of sustainable aviation fuel, and advising Gravis on its investment into SolarCatcher, a pioneering UK-based developer of solar-powered electric vehicle charging infrastructure. With an extensive international practice, Burges Salmon has also worked on some of the most high-profile and complex mini-grid transactions on the African continent to-date.

Roxanne Ratcliff, head of corporate responsibility at Burges Salmon, adds: “This year’s report is an opportunity to update all our stakeholders on the progress we made in 2023 to deliver on our responsible business ambitions and ESG priorities. The world is changing and as a business we’ve adapted, transformed and taken positive action to drive change and play our part in tackling the climate emergency and reducing systemic inequalities. We’ll continue to evolve and refine our approach to responsible business and value any feedback on this report to help us strengthen our ESG actions year after year. We look forward to building on the huge progress made and looking ahead to 2024, we’ll continue engaging with our people, clients and communities on important issues including the transparent and responsible roll-out of AI, bridging the digital divide in our communities and build on our pro-bono work to ease access to legal guidance and resources.”

Key contact

Headshot of Roxanne Ratcliff

Roxanne Ratcliff Head of Corporate Responsibility

  • Corporate responsibility and sustainability
  • Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)
  • Diversity and inclusion

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