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Doing Well by Doing Good: Law Firm Social Responsibility

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Corporations increasingly subscribe to the principle of corporate social responsibility. CSR is based on the belief that a demonstration of concern for the environment, human rights, community development and the welfare of their employees can make a corporation more profitable. And if not more profitable, at least a better place to work.

Law firms can learn from corporate experience to create their own social responsibility programs. Such programs can help law firms to do well by doing good. They can strengthen the firm’s reputation and market position. They can help the firm identify with the culture and CSR activities of clients and potential clients. They can help lawyers and staff find more meaning in their work and improve as human beings.

In the words of the social responsibility Karma Committee at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck: Be kind. Be generous. Be concerned. Donate time. Donate effort. Donate money. Just find a cause and give. You’ll quickly discover giving is also receiving.

A panel discussion about how law firms can learn about CSR and introduce some of its elements into their own models was sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association. The program was held May 8 at Maggiano’s Little Italy in downtown Denver.

Panelists included Sarah Hogan, vice president of Barefoot PR; Bruce DeBoskey, lawyer and founder of The DeBoskey Group, which focuses on philanthropic advising; Joyce Witte, Community Investment Advisor and director of the Encana Cares Foundation, Encana Oil & Gas (USA); and Amy Venturi, director of community relations & karma at Brownstein. Moderator was Cori Plotkin, president of Barefoot PR.

At law firms, the product is the people – the lawyers and support staff who provide high quality legal services. It is an easy fit. There are many ways that this ‘product’ can contribute time, talent and treasure to socially responsible activities.

Social responsibility: Focus and strategy

Law firm social responsibility is all about making a difference within the community and the profession, and within a firm. Even the best efforts will make no impact if spread too thin. You cannot maximize the value of your contributions or tell your story if your efforts are too diluted. To decide how to most effectively invest its resources, a law firm needs a social responsibility focus and a strategy.

Social responsibility efforts must be authentic. Law firms and other entities should always avoid ‘green-washing’ – telling a story that is aspirational, but not really true. Know yourself. Let your firm’s unique culture and skills determine which efforts to pursue and which to avoid.

When examining your culture, don’t limit yourself to partner input. Law firms are small communities, almost like families. Any effort to define culture and social responsibility should represent not only the interests of lawyers, but the interests of all levels of support staff. Efforts must be meaningful throughout the firm. The benefits to employee recruitment, retention and satisfaction can be remarkable.

DeBoskey outlined three types of community involvement and stated his belief that a good social responsibility plan includes elements of all three.

In a traditional model, an organization ‘gives back’ randomly to the community when asked – as a good citizen, rather than for any strategic purposes. In a social responsibility model, these efforts align with the capabilities of the business – like the legal skills of lawyers. Every non-profit needs legal advice.

At it’s most sophisticated, a social responsibility program involves using your core product – legal services – as a tool for social change. Volunteer with organizations like the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver, or the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center.

A strong focus makes it much easier to make decisions. Encana, for example, focuses its charitable giving strategy on issues surrounding its product — natural gas. Brownstein will donate money only if the request comes from a client, or if one of their attorneys is a member of the organization and on the board.

Law firms looking for additional advice can find valuable resources within the Corporate Community Investment Network. CCIN is an association for professionals whose primary responsibility is to manage community investment programs in a for-profit business setting.

Many corporations and a few law firms have actually created separate foundations to mange some of their giving. A foundation comes with more restrictions and different tax methods. As entities with a life of their own, however, foundations are more likely than one-off efforts to continue a useful existence.

Social responsibility: Good policies make good decisions

Strategy and focus provide the foundation for an effective social responsibility policy. Most law firms are inundated with requests from good causes asking for their support. A policy helps you know when to say “yes” to and when to say “no.”

In the law firm model, where all partners are owners with a sense of entitlement to resources, it can be very difficult to say no. A keenly focused policy makes it much easier to do so and keep the firm’s efforts on track.

Encana, for example, uses a five-step tool to determine the level of fit between a request and the company’s strategic goals in the field of natural gas – with level five being the largest commitment and level one the lowest.

Level five efforts integrate core product or service and often involve natural gas vehicles and energy efficiency initiatives using natural gas. These efforts contribute to best practices and leading trends in the industry, while enhancing the company’s reputation as a leader.

Level four efforts focus on strategic partnerships and often involve sustainable and long-term solutions like workforce development initiatives, signature programs (which can be repeated in other markets) and multi-year grants.

Level three efforts include strategic grants to assist with projects, programs or initiatives made to local non-profits aligned with natural gas.

Level two efforts include responsive giving, which is a one-time gift for a broad community effort that has local support. Participation of company representatives is required.

Level one efforts include the “t-shirt and banner” category, which contains one-day items like dinners, receptions, golf tournaments, events and races. These offer the least impact and awareness for the money, and therefore the least support.

At Brownstein, requests made to the firm are judged by two factors. The firm considers only requests made by clients and requests made by organizations where one of its attorneys participates at the board level.

Social responsibility: Engagement

Effective social responsibility programs involve not only checkbook involvement, but personal and professional involvement.

At Brownstein, the brand has always been about being out in the community. Six years ago, Venturi was asked to formalize this essential component of the firm’s culture into a social responsibility program that would further energize lawyers.

She started by spending 15 minutes with each of the attorneys, to discover their passions – which were used to identify a good non-profit match. After all, lawyers and staff will stay involved and do their best only when an organization is something that they care deeply about. If there is no engagement, the placement will backfire.

Finally, Venturi offers the lawyer’s services to the non-profit in some capacity – but it must be at the board level. Otherwise, she won’t make the match.

Project Karma is a Brownstein program dedicated to volunteer opportunities, and maintains a committee in each of the firm’s 12 offices. It sponsors informal lunch & learn presentations by local non-profits to encourage interest.

The message about active engagement by lawyers and staff must come from the top. Brownstein makes it very clear that the path to partnership for a new attorney is based not only on legal skills, but also on engagement and involvement with the community.

It is important to add a community involvement component to lawyer reviews, even if it is only one goal a year. That lets the lawyers know that you are serious. The Colorado Supreme Court asks every lawyer in to contribute 50 hours of pro bono work each year. Integrating these programs leads to win/win results for the firm.

Not every firm can match the efforts of a large company like Encana or a large law firm like Brownstein. However, there are good matches for firms of every size. Once again, it is all a matter of focus.

In fact, it is much easier to get five members of a small firm to focus on a strategic initiative than 500 lawyers in a huge firm. If a law firm has $10,000 to donate, that money goes a lot father and has a lot more impact to one organization than do $100 donations spread across 100 organizations.

Smaller law firms can also multiply its impact by partnering with others in an industry, like vendors or clients, to support a particular non-profit.

Social responsibility: Return on investment

Corporations measure the results of their social responsibility programs, and use these results to make decisions on efforts going forward. Law firms should do the same.

At the end of the year, Encana uses its five-level model (outline above) to analyze our charitable giving. How much was given at each level? Then the company sends a form to each non-profit, asking the recipient to evaluate outcomes (statistics for what was accomplished), process (did efforts meet the intended audience) and impact (what difference did it make).

Encana asks recipients to reply within 60 days, and uses this information to calculate return on investment. Those who do not report back are not eligible for further contributions. The non-profits might gripe at first, but they seem to change their minds once they’ve been through the process – finding that it has useful strategic value.

It is entirely appropriate to ask a non-profit to document the results they’ve achieved based on your contribution. It lets them know that you are truly invested in the organization. They will see you more as partners and engage you differently.

Most corporations have created and benefited from well-thought-through and strategic social responsibility programs. Law firms are starting to do the same. A program with tight focus and strict guidelines guarantees maximum impact and awareness in exchange for a law firm’s commitment of time, talent and treasure.

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Tanzania Camping Budget Private Or Joining Safari Explained From Monkey Territory to Tsetse Flies

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Tanzania Camping Budget Safaris Private or Joining are still the real Authentic African Safari. Firstly we would like to inform you that some of the campsites in Tanzania National Parks especially in Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Park are outside the Parks.

This is because the camping ground inside the Parks are not safe.

There are so many elephants and tsetse flies in Tarangire during seasons of the year and in Lake Manyara to many monkeys. You can loose your food of 6 days safari in just five minutes and there is nothing you can do because you are inside of the monkey’s territory.

The Animal Kingdom. Here nature rules and human demands are not a priority!

For Tanzania Camping Budget Safari we normally use both 4 x 4 Land Rover / Land Cruiser / Minibus depending on safari schedule and season’s. Most of our clients prefer to use Land Cruisers in dry season and Land Rovers in wet season between April – June each year.

This is because Land Rover is always four wheel while driving in the mud, but the Land Cruiser you need to engage the four wheel when you need it. Also the Land Cruiser is easier to get stuck because of the rear springs while the Land Rover does not so easily get stuck because all front’s and rear tire’s are protected by coil springs.

Animals are normally drinking water early in the morning and late evening. Such activities is possible to see either in Lake Manyara or Serengeti National Park. Serengeti is a lot more better because it is allowed to do very early game drives even before breakfast. It is possible to include walking safari especially for those people who are doing private safari.

This is charged direct or if you insist we also include in the price. Of course we will indicate the cost separate for those who are doing joining safari. Not all clients want to do walking safari. The walking safari can be arranged in the campsite i.e., Twiga Camp / Fig Tree Camp / Zion camp and Popo Camp in Lake Manyara and Tarangire.

We normally take 4 people in normal Land Cruiser or Land Rover of 6 setter for those who are doing camping safari and 6 people in an extended vehicle of 8 setter. We reserve other rear seats for extra camping facility i.e., mattresses, blankets, tents, and bed sheets.

TANZANIA CAMPING SAFARI SAMPLE ITINERARY

DAY 1: Arusha-Tarangire

You will be picked up at around 0900am and depart to Tarangire National Park for the Game drive.Tarangire is most spectacular during the dry season when thousands of animals migrate into the park from the surrounding dry Maasai steppe, to use the permanent water supply of the Tarangire River.

You can see herds of elephants, numbering over a hundred. Tarangire is also renowned for its tree pythons, which are easily seen. The animal population in the dry season rivals that of the Serengeti with wildebeest, zebra, eland, hartebeest, buffalo, gerenuk, fringe eared Oryx and flocks of birds of many different species.

Prime game viewing is between July through November.

The famous and giant baobab trees dot the park, their branches looking just like roots. Some of the baobab trees are over 300 years old. Legend has it that a displeased god turned them upside down at the time of creation. All meals and overnight at Zion Campsite.

Approx transit time Arusha – Tarangire 1 hour

Meal Plan: {L,D}

DAY 2: Tarangire Park – Lake Manyara National Park. Breakfast at around 0700am. Depart Tarangire at around 0800am for Lake Manyara National Park, famous for its tree climbing lions and large flocks of flamingos.

The park contains five distinct vegetation zones and is of scenic beauty. Picnic Lunch will be served in the Park/Hot Lunch at the camp. Afternoon Game drive in the Park. Late afternoon to Twiga campsite for dinner and overnight.

Approx transit time Tarangire to Lake Manyara 1hour

Meal Plan: {B, L, D}

DAY 3: Lake Manyara National Park – Serengeti National Park. Breakfast at around 0630am. Depart for Serengeti with lunch en route. On arrival, proceed for a game drive. The park covers 12,944km2 of open plains making it one of the largest in the world.

The rocky outcrops commonly known as Moru kopjes in the eastern part of the park are of scenic beauty and occasionally cats can be seen lazing on them.The park contains vast herds of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle and other antelopes. Dinner and overnight at Seronera Campsite.

Approx transit time Lake Manyara to Serengeti 5 ½ hours

Meal Plan: {B, L, D}

DAY 4: Serengeti National Park – Ngorongoro Crater rim. Very early Game drive in the vast Serengeti plain. Breakfast at 0900am. After breakfast, depart Serengeti and drive to Ngorongoro crater rim with Game drive and Picnic Lunch en route to Ngorongoro Simba campsite where you booked for the night full board.

Approx transit time Serengeti National Park to Ngorongoro Simba campsite 3½ hours

Meal Plan: {B, L, D}

DAY 5: Ngorongoro Crater – Arusha. Breakfast at around 0600am. Take Picnic Lunch with you and drive 15 minutes into the Ngorongoro Crater floor for the Game drive. View the various resident animals on the crater floor.

The largest unbroken caldera in the world, Ngorongoro has an area of 260 kilometers and a depth of 610 meters. The crater provides a protected habitat for thousands of mammals and birds. The entire day is spent on the crater floor viewing lion, hyena, wildebeest, zebra, black rhinoceros, and many species of small antelopes.

The Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area is located between the Serengeti and Lake Manyara. It is home to the famous Ngorongoro Crater which is the largest unbroken caldera in the world. The Crater is a spectacular setting in which to experience your African safari. Some scientists maintain that before it erupted, Ngorongoro Crater – the largest intact caldera in the world – would have been higher than Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa.

Covering a mere 260 square kilometers (100 square miles), the 600 meter (1969 foot)-deep Crater is home to a permanent population of more than 30 000 animals. It is one of the few places in Africa where you stand a very good chance of seeing the Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant) in the course of a game- drive.

The local Maasai have permission to graze their cattle on the Crater floor, and it is not unusual to see Maasai cattle and buffalo grazing together with lion mere meters away. There are around 1000 lions in the Crater, approximately 20 black rhino, and the spectacular Lerai Forest is one of the best places in Africa to spot leopard. This is one of the natural wonders of the world.

Picnic Lunch in the Crater. Afternoon before 0430pm drive to Arusha where you will be dropped at your hotel of your choice.

Approx transit time Ngorongoro to Arusha 3½ hours

Meal Plan: {B, L}

END OF SAFARI

COST:

Joining rate – 799$ per person maximum 4 people.

Private rate – 1020$ per person minimum 2 people.

What is included

Fully supported camping safari for 4 nights with meals as shown in the itinerary, park entrance fees, transportation in a 4 x 4 vehicle to Tarangire Park, Serengeti Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro, English speaking driver guide, crater fee, safari transportation in a private vehicle.

What is not included

The price does not include international flights or departure taxes, personal insurance, visa fees, vaccination costs, personal clothing and equipment, all items of a personal nature and all alcoholic drinks, gratuity / tips, Meals unless specified above, and shuttle transfer’s.

Source: www.ZanzibarMagic.com

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How to Identify a Plumber

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Think about the last time you bought a car. You may not have consulted the Yellow Pages or a dealer has been selected at random, or you bought your car in the first place he visited. However, many times, this is the scenario that describes how you are looking for plumbing services; people read the phone book and called the plumber who has posted the biggest announcement or the first of the list. However, like buying a car, to search for a qualified plumber should find out and compare to ensure you get the best price backed by a competent and quality service.

The first thing to do to find a good plumber is to ask for recommendations from family or friends about professionals they’ve ever hired. Other good resources are the contractors, realtors and the local store plumbing supplies. The city government even can recommend a list of plumbers who are familiar with your area codes.

Plumbing Services says it is very important to remember that there are two different types of plumbers, who make repairs and those that specialize in new construction and remodeling. To make repairs plumbers to call when the sink is blocked, when leaks in faucets or in emergency situations. The second type of plumber works on larger projects, such as the replacement of a faulty pipe throughout the house or in the installation of additional pipelines.

When requesting references, be sure to ask what kind of work was hired plumber. Also, find out if the plumber specializes in residential and commercial work.

What should be taken into account in a qualified plumber?

There are several qualifications that can differentiate a professional plumber do the rest.

* Certification or state license – Many states require a license or state certification to work in that state. Call to verify that the license is current and see if there are complaints against that license.

* Insurance – Make sure the plumber you are considering being uninsured, having insurance against industrial accidents compensation and liability insurance. The plumber that you choose should provide a copy of your insurance policy.

* Better Business Bureau – Contact the local Better Business Bureau to see if complaints have been filed against your potential candidate. Compare prices, but remember that the cheapest price that does not necessarily offer the best job. It is possible that a qualified and experienced plumber charged more for the job, but ultimately can save you money if you do a good job with the best materials and you will get the plumbing services.

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The 7 Secrets to Successful Skip Hire

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Our research suggests that there are over 17 million skips hired in the UK every year for domestic use alone! That’s a lot of skips and if you’ve ever looked in Yellow Pages you’ll see that there are a lot of skip companies out there to choose from with no real way of knowing what kind of service you’re going to get before it turns up!

If, like us, you’ve ever hired a skip, chances are you will have had a good experience with a professional, licensed waste collector with no hassles or grief.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If you called more than one company before you actually hired a skip you may have found that some of them:

– won’t quote prices over the phone

– won’t tell you what time it will be dropped off, or picked up

– will only accept cash payments to the driver

You might have even had a bad experience where the driver has refused to take away your skip without throwing some of the rubbish back in your garden, demanded more money before taking it away, damaged your property by bad handling of their wagon and the skip…

This guide is for you: It answers all the most common questions associated with skip hire so that you know exactly what you’re getting into when you hire a skip and understand the whys and wherefores involved in skip hire so you never have a bad experience…EVER!

1. How can I tell which skip companies in the Yellow Pages are the good ones?

Unless you personally know the company, you can’t. Any fool with a wagon and a skip can get an advert designed and printed to entice you to call them, but mainly it’s a lottery not just in terms of prices and service, but also in terms of what actually happens to your waste – something that depressingly few of us actually think, or even care about.

Skip companies are not actually regulated at the time of writing. The good ones operate their own licensed waste transfer stations (regulated by the Environment Agency) and are members of the Institute of Wastes Management (a professional body that promotes education and raising standards in waste management).

The bad ones are just cowboys that often fly-tip your waste and therefore add to your council tax bill – cos the council are the ones who have to clean it up! (Flytipping is now costing local councils over £2.5 million a year! That’s our tax money!)

Did you know? “Every 35 seconds, somebody, somewhere is fly-tipping in the UK”

2. Why do skips cost so much money?

No-one is pretending skip hire is cheap, but think about the overheads involved:

Skip Wagon £35,000+

Skips £500/each for standard builderskip

Vehicle Insurance £2000/year per vehicle

Public Liability £1250/year per vehicle

Employer’s Liability £1250/year per vehicle

Skip Wagon driver £25,000/year

Fuel £20,000/year

Office staff £18,000/year per member of staff

Landfill taxes £18/ton increasing by £3 every year until 2010 where it will stand at £35/ton

Recycling costs Cost of buying shredders, trommels, weighbridges, picking stations etc – £millions

Soon adds up doesn’t it? Getting rid of waste is not a cheap business, but it has to go somewhere!

3. Why isn’t my skip dropped off and picked up when I ask for it?

This isn’t always the skip company’s fault – too many people don’t understand that hiring a skip is not like calling a taxi. Just think about what goes into the average skip lorry driver’s day – it’s heavy haulage we’re talking about here, and lots of things can go wrong on a pick-up or drop off that will slow down the whole day’s schedule, such as a customer putting toxic waste in a skip, overfilling it, or the driver being given incorrect drop off details by a customer.

We publish a national trade magazine for the industry called “The Skip” (www.theskip.net) and through this we are pushing for more skip companies to incorporate new technology like Vehicle Tracking to improve delivery schedules and take-up of this kind of improvement is increasing all the time.

In the meantime, you should be patient waiting for your skip because it’s rarely a case of deliberately bad customer service.

4. Why won’t they take the skip away if the rubbish is just over the fill line?

It’s not the skip driver being unreasonable – it’s the law! They are legally bound to not carry unsafe loads and unfortunately many people order smaller skips than they need in order to save a few quid. Our advice – order a larger skip than you think you need because you will always fill it – just don’t go over the line!

5. What actually happens to my rubbish when they take it away?

If you’re not asking this question, you should be. Landfill space in the UK is running out fast. It is estimated that by 2010 there will be virtually no landfill space left in Britain and the government is increasing the landfill taxes that waste management companies have to pay every year. The best skip companies are investing heavily into new plant and technology to the point that many of them are recycling over 90%! Using these companies will eventually reduce prices and massively increase recycling rates – something we should all be interested in.

The bottom line is – the cheaper the skip, the less likely it is that the waste is being responsibly managed.

6. Why won’t my local skip company take a credit card or even tell me prices over the phone?

This is mainly a historical thing. Most skip hire companies have evolved over the past 25 years from construction and demolition companies, and the traditional way they do business is either by issuing invoices or cash-in-hand! Also, a lot of companies still charge for waste disposal by the tonne and won’t always quote an exact price because they don’t know exactly how much it’s going to cost them to get rid of until it comes in.

7. Why do I get quoted so many different prices for the same service from different companies?

The answer’s in the question – you don’t get the same service from different companies! You get different levels of service from different companies. Most of the time, you get what you pay for. After you’ve had a bad experience, you’ll wonder whether it really was worth saving £20 by going with the cheapest you could find.

Plus there are other factors such as skip permit prices. All skip companies are supposed to tell you that you need a permit if the skip is to be on a public highway. These permits are provided by the local council – sometimes the company by law has to sort it out for you, sometimes you’ll have to go direct to the council yourself.

The variances in skip permit price across the UK are staggering – some council’s charge nothing and issue them the same day, some charge £70 and make you wait weeks before issuing.

In the end…

It’s up to you. You now know pretty much everything necessary to make an informed choice about which skip hire company to use.

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