With environmental and consumer privacy protection high on the agenda, the state of California recently introduced stricter regulations for ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act). This means organizations have to comply with more complex regulations. As a result, law firms need to double down on their services to ensure their clients are satisfied. Let’s dive into what’s happening and how low-code helps leading law firms take their services to the next level and attract new business.
Hitting ‘net zero’ by 2050
As a result of the Paris Climate Agreement, companies are under increasing pressure to comply with regulations and achieve 'net zero' emissions by 2050. This means that companies must disclose information related to their ESG activities and create a strategy to achieve their goals.
Many corporations have already taken steps to disclose their climate impacts, with 81% of S&P 500 companies voluntarily reporting their emissions in corporate social responsibility reports as of 2020 (Wiener, S. 2020).
To ensure that all organizations are invested in reaching 'net zero' by 2050, California has introduced the Climate Accountability Package. This package includes a bill suite that aims to improve transparency, standardize disclosures, align public investments with climate goals, and raise the bar on corporate action to address the climate crisis.
One of these bills, SB 253, requires large corporations to publicly disclose their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. This is designed to provide consumers, investors, policymakers, and other stakeholders across the state with a complete and thorough picture of the corporate emissions data they need.
Meeting ESG regulations is a significant investment, but it doesn’t stop there.
Protecting Californians’ consumer privacy
In addition to ESG compliance, consumer privacy is another important topic on the agenda in California. The state has introduced the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA) to protect consumer privacy for Californians.
As of January 1, 2023, consumers have new rights under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), including the right to correct inaccurate personal information and limit the use and disclosure of sensitive personal information collected about them. Businesses need to comply with the CCPA to safeguard their customers' data and protect their operations.
With the new regulations for ESG and CCPA, organizations must make significant efforts to comply with these initiatives. But are law firms up for the challenge to help their clients with compliance?
Non-compliance is not an option
Complying with the new ESG and privacy regulations can be daunting for organizations. These laws consist of hundreds of pages of requirements and guidelines that must be followed. Many law firms still manually collect data to generate compliance reports, which can be time-consuming and costly. This method involves retrieving data from different databases and requires multiple people and tools to gather everything in one place. Failing to comply with ESG regulations by the deadline can result in hefty fines, which makes this approach even more problematic.
Moreover, given the current scenario with lawyers already struggling to manage their workload, growing burnout rates, and the great resignation trend, the manual way of working is not a sustainable approach for assisting clients with regulatory compliance.
Luckily they don’t have to.
Five low-code applications that help law firms comply with regulation requirements
The key to managing and improving compliance is measuring it. This is often a complex and time-consuming task, and organizations need help to identify what data to collect and which standards to compare with. Digital solutions are a great asset to leverage compliance.
These five low-code apps optimize compliance and boost loyalty and revenue:
1. ESG quick scan
One example of a helpful application that can assist with ESG compliance is a quick scan. By conducting an early assessment using this tool, businesses can obtain valuable information, such as the maturity of their current ESG activities, key contact persons within the organization, the type of company and markets they operate in, and the countries they do business in.
This data help companies understand their ESG status and focus on areas that need improvement. Moreover, law firms can utilize this tool on their website to generate leads and drive potential new business for partners.
2. Full ESG assessment
This assessment consists of a series of questionnaires covering all the ESG topics companies must report on. For example, companies need to report their greenhouse gas emissions. To address this, a questionnaire can be provided by law firms for companies to fill out, collecting quantitative data on their ESG regulations. You can create an easy-to-fill-out questionnaire with different value fields such as short text, multiple choice, and conditionals.
This collected data can then be used for the following purposes: annual reporting, highlighting areas for improvement that law firms can advise upon, a dashboard to track yearly improvements and export for linking with financial data.
Moreover, qualitative data is also relevant, particularly in the social and governance areas. For instance, the questionnaire can include questions about employee wellness. Additionally, the application requires search capabilities, output automation workflows, identification of risks, and notifications for checking and confirming reports.
Overall, the entire assessment can streamline the ESG compliance process for companies while providing law firms with valuable data and insights to better serve their clients. Law firms can also use the insights to identify key areas where legal services can be provided or even turned into alternative fee arrangements.
3. CCPA assessment application
Through a CCPA assessment application, law firms can provide clients with a user-friendly tool to assess their compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act and its associated regulations. This cloud-based tool allows clients to easily navigate the CCPA requirements and evaluate their current data protection practices.
By utilizing this application, legal firms can streamline their CCPA compliance assessment process and offer an efficient, secure, and fully customizable solution to their clients. The assessment application can be tailored to meet the specific needs of each client, ensuring a personalized and effective compliance review.
By offering a CCPA assessment application, law firms can provide their clients a competitive advantage and help them stay compliant with evolving data privacy regulations.
4. Carbon footprint tracker
This tool allows employees to track their carbon emissions continuously, including business travel and associated data. Employees can log their trips and calculate their carbon footprint using this calculator in real-time.
This data can be collected to provide insights into the company's environmental impact, which can be included in the annual environmental report. The carbon footprint data can also be benchmarked and compared to track progress toward emission reduction goals.
In addition to providing an easy way for employees to track their emissions, the calculator can also serve as a tool for making sustainability claims. By accurately measuring and reporting emissions, companies can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and differentiate themselves from competitors.
The emissions calculator can be integrated with the company's ESG software to streamline data collection and analysis, reducing the risk of errors and improving reporting accuracy.
5. ESG knowledge tracker
This is a self-service knowledge base that a law firm can create and update to provide advice on specific articles relevant to the ESG area. For example, if a company wants guidance on a certain ESG area, it can refer to the knowledge center to see what advice is available.
Moreover, the knowledge center can be a useful resource for companies that have identified certain issues but do not have someone to oversee them. By referring to the knowledge center, they can find out what they need to have in place to address those issues.
Understanding the information is a crucial aspect of ESG. Companies can see the data gathered from surveys and questionnaires in a dashboard. The dashboard presents the outputted data from the questionnaires in larger numbers, such as the total emissions, and this can be benchmarked against each year's targets to track progress.
The knowledge center can also function as a management area for the completion status of the questionnaires. Companies can keep track of what has been completed, what is in progress, and what has not yet been completed.
Boost loyalty and revenue with custom apps that stick
In conclusion, low-code platforms offer a powerful solution for law firms to help their clients navigate the complexities of new regulations. Using a customizable, secure, and cloud-based tool allows law firms to offer a better customer experience while saving time and resources. The result is increased client satisfaction, improved customer retention, and greater value for both the firm and the client.
Join us June 7th - 8th at Legal Innovators in San Francisco to learn how you can leverage low-code solutions to drive revenue and retention.
Photo credit: Maarten van den Heuvel