We’re thrilled today to help support the official launch of the Law Firm Sustainability Network!

Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP is proud to announce our involvement with the new Law Firm Sustainability Network (LFSN). The firm will serve on the Leadership Council of the nonprofit organization, and Executive Director Gina Maciula has been appointed treasurer of the Board of Directors. The Leadership Council, comprised of eight law firms, will act as an advisory committee to the Board of Directors and provide input on strategy and initiatives.

Law Firm Sustainability Network logoThe LFSN is a nonprofit organization of law firms and legal departments committed to promoting the benefits of environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility throughout the legal industry. Its mission is to develop key performance indicators, foster knowledge-sharing, develop best practice guidelines and recognize and promote sustainability innovations in the U.S. legal sector. For more on the organization’s initiatives and programs, see the launch announcement press release.

Wendel Rosen has long been a pioneering law firm when it comes to adopting and promoting sustainable business practices in the profession. In 2003, we became the first law firm in the country certified as a green business (certification conducted by the Bay Area Green Business Program) and launched our Green Business Practice Group. In addition, the firm co-chaired the effort to write and pass California’s Benefit Corporation Law (AB361) and has been a Certified B Corporation since 2010. Our attorneys and executives regularly speak and write to business audiences regarding the pursuit of a sustainable business operation.

Gina Maciula, Executive Director, Wendel Rosen

Gina Maciula, Executive Director, Wendel Rosen

“We have been a certified green business, and the first law firm in the country to do so, for a decade, and have since been working very hard to educate the industry on the benefits of sustainable business practices,” said Maciula. “We are proud of how far law firm ‘greening’ has come – a defining element of corporate social responsibility – and applaud the industry collaboration to form LFSN. I’m very excited to serve on the governing board of this organization and formally come together with like-minded peers to keep sustainability at the forefront of consideration for law firms.”

In Episode 86 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on December 8, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Neil Grimmer, CEO and founder of Plum Organics, a line of healthy, organic foods for babies, toddlers and children.

Neil Grimmer, Founder of Plum Organics

Neil Grimmer, Founder of Plum Organics

Plum Organics was founded six years ago by a small group of parents who sought to raise healthy-well rounded eaters. The company has grown rapidly – it started with six products and now has 130, including cereals, snacks and training meals.

The baby food market is a competitive space, with heavy weights like Gerber, Beach Nut and Earth’s Best, which have been in business for decades.  Plum Organics differentiated itself by focusing on high design and great packaging, and targeting modern parents who share the values of sustainability and health.  Plum pioneered the spouted pouch, and the company’s R&D group is continually looking for new materials for sustainable packaging.  Progressive pediatrician Alan Green is the company’s health advisor and a contributor to its website.

A certified B Corp, Plum Organics sought investors that not only had cash, but also understood  the culture of Plum Organics and were similarly passionate about the mission of improving the health of kids and the planet.

Have you tried Plum Organics products?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Grimmer:  Episode 86 of The Wendel Forum (27:47 mins; mp3)

Plum Organics Website: http://www.plumorganics.com

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 82 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on October 27, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Caroline Duell, the founder of Elemental Herbs, an organic body care company based on the central coast of California.

With a background in herbal medicine, Duell is a massage therapist and outdoor enthusiast who began making skin care products for her friends and family.  Later, after success selling the products at farmers markets, she launched Elemental Herbs, a California certified B Corporation.  That certification is to sustainable business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee – it measures a company’s commitment to operating a business responsibly and sustainably.

Caroline Duell, Founder of Elemental Herbs

Duell also runs a farm, from which she harvests some ingredients for her natural healing products such as All Good Goop, a moisturizer and salve.  While Duell also gets ingredients from outside suppliers, she only partners with similar-minded businesses.  In particular, she examines other companies’ employee benefits, utilities use, social benefits and transparency.  Though not certified organic, all Elemental Herbs holistic products and remedies contain organic ingredients and are free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

The Elemental Herbs farm also offers a CSA (community supported agriculture) and serves as an education center, including offering courses about sustainable living.  As a member of 1% for the Planet, one percent of all Elemental Herbs revenues is dedicated to fighting for social and environmental justice around the world.  Organizations it supports include a local marine mammal protection organization, a local trail organization, Save Our Snow, which provides information about how global warming affects the planet’s snowfall, and cityWILD, which brings inner city kids into the mountains.

Do you care about the company policies, as well as the ingredients, of your skin care products?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Duell: Episode 82 of The Wendel Forum (26:47 mins; mp3)

Elemental Herbs website: http://elementalherbs.com

B Corporation website: http://www.bcorporation.net/

1% for the Planet website: http://onepercentfortheplanet.org/en/

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 49 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on February 2, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Dick Lyons welcomes Stuart Rudick of Mindful Investors, LLC, a San Francisco Bay Area-based private equity fund focused on investments in natural food and product companies and technology that supports healthy lifestyles.

Stuart Rudick of Mindful Investors

Stuart Rudick of Mindful Investors

Stuart has been committed to investing in these types of companies for more than 30 years. His interest in companies with a focus on sustainability and healthy lifestyles emerged from his personal development as a yoga practitioner and vegetarian.  As healthy living became more important to him, he also moved toward investing in sustainably-minded companies.

In the early days, he found himself involved in companies in areas ranging from wind power to rice growers who had developed a closed-loop system that used the stalks for rice paper, rather than burning them.

Dick and Stuart discuss the investing trends they have observed during the past couple of decades and the rise of the natural food and organic products marketplace.  Stuart had a front row seat to the evolution of some of today’s well-known companies, such as Whole Foods Market, Seventh Generation and Odwalla.

Mindful Investors’ current interests focus on consumer facing companies in areas such as food and beverage, healthcare and technology platforms that support healthy lifestyles. Not surprising, there is a lot of activity in web and mobile development that supports functionality for applications such as bar codes to track the carbon footprint of a product, rich media like video to promote products, and platforms for distributing coupons and discounts.

Stuart shares the Mindful Investors approach to investing, including insights into time horizons and exit expectations related to investments in their portfolio.  He also acknowledges some of the challenges and strategies related to ensuring that when a company is sold, the parent company keeps the integrity of the product post-sale. 

As one of the early B Corps, he’s also a fan of the recently enacted legislation in California for Benefit Corporations (AB 361 – Huffman), which Wendel Rosen attorney Donald Simon had a hand in drafting.

So what is Stuart’s advice for young businesses? 

  • Realize from the start that you will need to raise capital, and a lot more than you think you’ll need. 
  • Bring in like-minded investors who are connected to your values in order to build trust. 
  • Bring in experienced senior level people to advise and guide you through your growth to better avoid errors and accelerate the growth of your company.

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Stuart Rudick:  Episode 49 of The Wendel Forum(27:37 mins; mp3)

Mindful Investors website:  www.mindfulinvestors.com

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons’ online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

We hope that 2012 is off to a great start for you.  The Wendel Forum took a bit of a break over the holidays, but we’re ready to jump into 2012 with both feet.  It’s going to be a great year!  There are a few changes we want to make sure you catch.

Green 960 Becomes 960 KNEW
Our radio station, Green 960 AM, is changing its call letters.  You’ll still find us on the air at 960 on the AM dial; however, the station now goes by 960 KNEW “Opinions, Finance, Advice.”  Also, the new website is www.960knew.com.  Don’t worry, you’ll still find us as a part of the Green Morning line up every Saturday morning (along with Sea Change Radio and An Organic Conversation).

Another program change is that we have a new time slot.  Our new time is 9:30 – 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays.  As always, if you’re out of signal range, you can listen to the show via the station’s website and www.iHeartRadio.com (as they say, “there’s an app for that!”).

Saturday Welcomes Zem Joaquin of Ecofabulous
We are kicking off the first new episode of the year in our new 9:30 time slot this Saturday, January 14.  Please tune in for a discussion with Zem Joaquin of Ecofabulous.  She’ll share how Ecofabulous brings together style and sustainability without sacrifice.

California’s Landmark Benefit Corporation Legislation
So besides our radio show changes, what else has been happening the last few weeks, you ask?  Quite a lot.  With the enactment of AB 361, California’s new landmark Benefit Corporation legislation, Wendel Rosen attorney Donald Simon has been spreading the word about how companies can adopt this new corporate structure.  You can listen to Episode 36 of The Wendel Forum for a previous discussion about this legislation, which allows companies to incorporate their values into their governance. 

Photo of Simon, Gilbert, Huffman and Chouinard

Donald Simon, Jay Coen Gilbert, Assemblyman Jared Huffman and Yvon Chouinard arrive in Sacramento

Donald also participated in the media event at the California Secretary of State’s office on January 3rd (the first day companies could submit paperwork to become Benefit Corporations).  Here’s a press release describing the event and some photos of the day.  We were thrilled to be able to assist about a dozen companies with filings on this first day of eligibility, including Patagonia.  It was great to see Yvon Chouinard there to help champion the cause.  A true leader in sustainability!  See below for links to some of the coverage this event garnered.

Photo of Interview with Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia

Interview with Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia

Photo of Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia addressing crowd to celebrate Benefit Corporation legislation passage.

Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia addresses crowd to celebrate Benefit Corporation legislation passage.

Recent Coverage of AB 361 – California’s Benefit Corporation Legislation 

In Episode 45 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on December 17, 2011, on Green 960 AM radio), show host Bill Acevedo chats with Matt Bauer, President and co-founder of BetterWorld Telecom.  BetterWorld provides voice and data services to small- and medium-sized businesses and focuses on relationships with companies and nonprofits that support social justice and sustainability.

Matt Bauer - President and Co-Founder of BetterWorld Telecom

Matt Bauer, President and Co-Founder of BetterWorld Telecom

The interview touches on a number of subjects. Matt describes BetterWorld’s approach to business, the importance of running a “mission-driven” company, and legislative and economic trends he sees as opportunities for small businesses to succeed, particularly in this sickly economy.

A part of the $2 trillion global telecommunications industry, BetterWorld’s competitors are companies like AT&T, Version and Quest – companies not generally recognized as leaders in sustainable social circles.  BetterWorld has been mission-driven from the beginning, balancing people, planet and prosperity and focusing on serving organizations with similar goals.

They have also created a number of alliances with organizations such as 1% For the Planet (they’ve been a member since 2006) and are a certified B Corporation (in fact, they are a founding member of B Lab).  The company considers these types of organizations so important that it has committed to giving 3% of gross revenues (not just profits) to support social justice and sustainable causes.

BetterWorld’s mission goes beyond simply donating money to organizations; the company is attempting to change the fundamental paradigm related to how people work as a way of enabling companies to reduce their carbon footprint.  The company invested in research and analysis resulting in a program they call BetterWork.  On their website you can download a white paper that describes how to lower costs and carbon emissions, while increasing profits and employee morale through telecommuting, video, web conferencing and other communication tools.

A busy man, Matt is also involved in a number of activities to influence his industry and support small business.  In a recent editorial that ran on http://www.thehill.com(The Hill’s Congress Blog) and http://www.triplepundit.com/, Matt addressed the issue of Net neutrality and the regulatory structure necessary to create a relatively even playing field for carriers like BetterWorld against the giants of telecom.

And because most of BetterWorld’s customers are small business (with under 100 people), they see first hand the economic challenges facing this market segment.  Realizing that capital to fund business growth is harder for small companies to get in this economic environment, Matt has been tracking some emerging non-traditional capital-raising solutions.  He and Bill explore some of the pros and cons of two newly popularized funding solutions for small businesses – crowd funding and Direct Public Offerings (DPOs), including some of the trends and legal issues associated with these two evolving areas of small business finance.

Show Notes:
For the next couple of weeks The Wendel Forum, like many of your favorite television and radio programs, will be running “Best Of” episodes.  On Saturday, December 24, tune in for a rebroadcast of Episode 36, in which Bill Acevedo and Donald Simon discuss the recent passage of Benefit Corporation legislation in California (AB 361).  Companies will be able to take this new form of corporate entity beginning January 1, 2012.  They are joined by Erik Trojian, Director of Policy for B Lab.

On December 31, we will rerun Episode 21, Part I of the compilation interviews conducted at last June’s San Francisco Business Times Cleantech & Sustainability Awards.  Companies featured in the program include:

  • InterContinental San Francisco
  • Propel Fuels
  • Primus Power Corp.
  • Numi Organic Tea

Post Links:
Listen to the interview with Matt Bauer: Episode 45 of The Wendel Forum(27:34 mins; mp3)

BetterWorld Telecom website: http://www.betterworldtelecom.com

BetterWork web page: http://info.betterworldtelecom.com/how-to-lower-costs-and-carbon-emissions-while-increasing-profits-and-employee-morale?hsCtaTracking=4fd1a1ce-e997-4c9f-ba6d-70c0cd896e52%7C43b6cc83-e720-4716-b881-1fb93cb5fd74

Green 960 AM Radio website: http://www.green960.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

We are happy to report that the State of New York has become the seventh state to pass benefit corporation legislation, joining Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey, Hawaii, and California.  At midnight last night, the New York Legislature unanimously passed bills S79-A and A4692-A, bringing New York within the fold of those states that are empowering companies with the business model of doing well while doing good.  

Want to learn more about this groundbreaking legislation?  Information about benefit corporation legislation can be found at www.bcorporation.net or you can speak to Donald Simon, the Wendel Rosen lawyer who helped draft similar legislation that was recently enacted in California.

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