COLUMBIA -- On Tuesday, employees and clients of the McAngus Goudelock & Courie law firm drank out of their last red plastic cups.
The firm went through thousands of plastic cups a year, offering drinks to clients and allowing employees to sip water at their desks. Now, those employees and clients will be using reusable mugs and cups.
This morning, the firm will unveil a new Waste Wise program to its employees during a breakfast meeting as it joins a national trend of businesses going green, said Jay Courie, a partner in the firm. Through its new efforts to reduce waste, the firm has been recognized as a Law Office Climate Challenge Partner by the American Bar Association and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Courie calls it "practicing green." The firm is one of the first in South Carolina to sign on to the program.
MG&C has 107 lawyers in offices in five cities, including about 40 lawyers in Columbia.
Efforts to reduce waste besides the aforementioned cups include using recycled paper products for letterhead, business cards and legal pads as well as using both sides of the page when copying documents, said Leah Wallace Beckham, the firm's operations director.
MG&C also invested in video teleconferencing technology so its lawyers don't always have to drive to meet with their colleagues at the firm's offices in Charleston, Greenville Charlotte and Raleigh. And a carpool database has been set up so the firm's 400 employees can share rides to work.
"It's the smart thing to do in business," Beckham said. "It fits our progressive personality."
To meet the climate challenge, the firm agreed to follow a list of guidelines through the bar association's program. Once the firm had proven its intent to change, the certification was approved, Beckham said.
The firm expects to save some money by not buying so much paper or cups., Beckham said.
While the green practice will be a surprise to most employees at this morning's meeting, Courie said he's leaked the news to a few and they've been excited.
"There's a real sense of pride," Courie said. "I don't know that I really understood it would have that impact on people."
Law clerk Jim Rourke said he was impressed.
"Law firms are notorious for eating paper," he said. "We'll conserve items that we take for granted."