B Corp and the Law: a firm(s) belief on what our industry can be

Posted Thursday 14th September 2023

This week we’ve celebrated a significant milestone in the Joelson journey—our certification by B Labs as a B Corporation, officially joining enterprises around the world committed to transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet. It’s an important milestone for us and one that continues our dedication, intrinsic from our founding, to fight for equality for the entrepreneurs and innovators who propel us forward.

As the third generation of the leadership at Joelson – my fellow managing partner Phil, and I call ourselves ‘Gen 3’ – we’ve always worked to ensure the firm’s legacy evolves in a progressive and sustainable way. It must resonate with our stakeholders and enable ‘Gen 4’ – whoever they are – to be part of a community using business as a force for good.

Achieving B Corp status reinforces our promise to ourselves and our clients: to conduct work in a manner that aligns with our goal to support entrepreneurs and help build equality while putting sustainability, the environment, governance, supply chain health, and employee wellbeing at the fore.

But rather than a badge of honour, this is a natural evolution for Joelson.

Having both been at the firm for 25 years, I know that Phil and I feel privileged to have worked with so many inspirational teams in that time. This has reinforced our belief that founders and entrepreneurs need the best independent advice and support. It’s also given us several key moments to look back on, moments which shaped us as individuals and advisers, not to mention the trajectory of the firm.

In 1998, very shortly after Phil and I joined Joelson, we met three young men who were looking to set up a smoothie business. Although we officially became their advisers, guiding them through the early stages of the business, the truth is that they were the ones who guided us. The nascent company modelled bravery, creativity, and boldness of belief. They innovated not only in their products, but in how they treated their employees and conducted business. Innocent smoothies didn’t taste bad, either!

Little did I know then that this was to be a seminal moment in the development of Joelson, as well as the start of a 25-year association with one of the most successful brands the UK has produced for some time—from helping them establish the Innocent Foundation to supporting their own B Corp certification in 2018.

Joelson’s evolution as a business is very much based on continual development, learning from our clients as well as building great friendships and long-term relationships.

And it was one of Innocent’s co-founders, Richard Reed, who always reminded Phil and I of the importance of a core tenet of sustainability: leave the world a better place than you found it.

It felt only natural for us to use this inspiration to pursue our own B Corp certification. Becoming part of this community not only inspires us, it enables us to challenge others.

We want other firms to join us in helping catalyse societal change and growth, ethically and sustainably. The legal sector is not an island. We can pursue equality as well as equity; and share values as much as add value. We would love that whoever ‘Gen 4’ might be at Joelson, regardless of how they look, think, or operate, that they continue to have the same spirit of entrepreneurialism and independence that has defined us since 1956.

25 years in the making, Phil and I are now hoping that we can use our platform to inspire the legal sector to grow and develop, with a key focus on the future of the profession. Perhaps what we are doing can encourage others to join us on this journey.

After all, it’s not just the business you do; it’s how you do business.

This article is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action.

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