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HFW Launches New Sustainability Strategy, Appoints First Sustainability Partner

13 April 2021

Global, sector-focused law firm HFW has launched a new sustainability strategy and appointed Giles Kavanagh as its first sustainability partner.

The new strategy comprises three core pillars – clients, environment, and people and projects – and includes an initiative to accurately measure and reduce the firm’s global carbon footprint.

Giles heads HFW’s global Aerospace industry group and sits on the firm’s Management Board, and will work alongside senior management and more than 20 ‘sustainability champions’ that have been appointed across the business to drive the new strategy.

Jeremy Shebson, Managing Partner, HFW:

“Sustainability is a key priority for us at HFW, and one that we see as being critical to the future success of our business. We approach sustainability in the broadest possible sense – covering social as well as environmental issues – and have deliberately focused on actions that we believe will be the most impactful and that are also measurable, so that we can closely monitor our progress.”

Giles Kavanagh, Global Head of Aerospace and Sustainability Partner, HFW:

“I am very proud to be appointed as HFW’s first sustainability partner, and look forward to working with our people, our clients and the broader HFW community to help build a more sustainable world for current and future generations. We seek to use our legal and sector expertise, networks and corporate responsibility initiatives to enable sustainable practices across all of our operations and the industries that we service, and to drive meaningful and lasting positive change.”

HFW Sustainability Strategy: Core Pillars

1) Clients – HFW is working with clients across its sectors, services and international network to help them achieve their sustainability goals.

2) Environment – HFW is committed to reducing its environmental impact in all aspects of its operation, including its built environment and business travel. It is currently working with The Planet Mark to undertake a global carbon audit to accurately measure the firm’s carbon footprint and identify opportunities for targeted reductions, and will publish a carbon disclosure report each year that publicly states its global carbon footprint data, as well as progress against targets.

  • HFW has measured and published its London carbon footprint data since 2015 – achieving a reduction of more than 35% over that period – and has achieved Planet Mark certification every year since 2016 in recognition of its continued efforts to reduce its environmental impact.
  • In 2017, HFW carried out a sustainability-focused refurbishment of its London office that reduced its energy usage by more than 50% and included replacing more than 1,000 conventional light fittings with low-energy LED ‘skytiles’.
  • The firm now recycles more than 75% of its waste in London, with general waste transported by barge along the River Thames to an energy-from-waste plant, which feeds into the National Grid and creates enough energy each year to power more than 35 homes for a month. HFW’s London office uses 100% renewable energy, and its canteen has been plastic free since 2018.
  • HFW’s London office caterers have a strict requirement to use sustainable ingredients and products with the lowest possible food miles, and its coffee supplier empowers the homeless by training them to be baristas.

Mike Forshaw, Head of Property and Facilities, HFW:

“We’ve made real progress reducing our carbon footprint in London over the past five years. We now want to build on that good work and apply the same approach to our international network. It’s about ensuring that sustainability is a key consideration in every decision that we make in relation to our built environment, from the buildings that we occupy to our choice of utilities providers and the suppliers that we work with. That can be more challenging in some of the markets in which we have offices, but we’re a global law firm and this is a genuine priority for us, so it’s something we’re committed to tackling on a global basis.”

3) People and Projects – HFW will continue to actively identify and support relevant projects relating to all aspects of sustainability, and harness the passion and expertise of its people to achieve the firm’s sustainability objectives. The firm has appointed ‘Sustainability Champions’ in each of its six global industry groups (Aerospace, Commodities, Construction, Energy and Resources, Insurance, and Shipping) as well as its risk and knowledge management departments. These champions will help devise and implement sustainability initiatives – both internally and with clients.

  • HFW’s diversity and inclusion efforts are primarily focused on five areas: gender, mental health and wellbeing, race and ethnicity, LGBT+, and social mobility.
  • HFW recently announced a new global gender equality strategy backed by a series of ambitious targets that include women accounting for at least 40% of all senior lateral hires and internal promotions over the next three years.
  • HFW has 48 trained Mental Health First Aiders across its international office network, who are able to provide support on mental health issues and direct colleagues to appropriate specialist help, and more than 100 of the firm’s partners have attended Mental Health Awareness training. It also offers free resilience training to everyone at the firm, while its Employee Assistance Program provides access to face-to-face counselling for not just staff but also household family members.
  • HFW is a signatory of the Mindful Business Charter, which reinforces its commitment it to removing unnecessary sources of workplace stress and promoting better mental health and wellbeing across its business.
  • The firm partners with Aspiring Solicitors to increase the diversity of its trainee intake and also takes part in the City Solicitors Horizons social mobility programme. HFW has consistently been ranked as one of the UK’s top social mobility employers.
  • HFW is a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions’ Programme in the UK and globally, and offers LGBT+ ally training to everyone at the firm.
  • The firm’s London office has helped more than 2,200 people over the past five years through a range of community investment and D&I initiatives including mentoring, work experience, employability workshops and pro bono legal advice.
  • For more information, visit:

HFW’s community investment strategy focuses on two key principles: access to justice and education & employability. Through the provision of pro bono advice, volunteering, fundraising and donations, the firm supports free legal advice clinics and individuals requiring access to free legal services; women affected by domestic violence and abuse; young people through reading schemes, mentoring and work experience; and services for children with disabilities.

HFW is a member or supporter of a wide range of other sustainability initiatives, including but not limited to:

  • The Chancery Lane Project – a collaboration between solicitors, barristers, and academics to create the legal conditions necessary to achieve Net Zero emissions.
  • Renewable World is the official charity partner of the firm’s global Construction and Energy industry groups. The firm provides legal and practical advice to the charity, which tackles poverty in the developing world by installing community-owned renewable energy systems, as well as taking part in sponsored events and supporting annual campaigns. HFW provided free legal advice to help Renewable World establish a carbon offsetting programme.
  • Founding member of World Ocean Council – a global, cross-sectoral ocean industry leadership alliance committed to corporate ocean responsibility.
  • Renewable UK – a not-for-profit renewable energy trade association.
  • The Campaign for Greener Arbitrations – a group committed to achieving sustainable change in the way that arbitrations are managed.

To find out more, visit:

Press Contact
Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson
Head of Communications