What it means to be a Certified B Corporation®

The most frequent question I get from someone seeing my business card for the first time is: “What’s a B Corp?” 

On the days when I can shift out of lawyer brain and speak like a human, I reply:

“It means we believe in using business as a force for good in the world.” 

On days when lawyer brain prevails, I launch into a technical dissertation on corporate formations, various state statutes authorizing benefit corporations, and the difference between the former and B Corp certification.

I think you can guess which response generates more engagement…

Becoming a Certified B Corporation is no small undertaking. Forrest Firm founder James Forrest and our managing attorney, Jeff Wolfe, led the organization through our first certification process in 2016 and then re-certification in 2018.  The process requires a focused, time-consuming effort to compile the requisite documentation for B Labs, the organization that oversees the certification process. 

Operating as a B Corp is almost as exhaustive as the certification process. We are driven to set the bar high in terms of service to our clients, the community, and our employees, which requires showing up each day and striving to maintain that standard.

Are we a force for good? 

Have we made a positive impact in the lives of those around us?

Or, as James Forrest likes to ask,

“If Forrest Firm disappeared tomorrow, would we be missed?”

These philosophical musings naturally arrive at existential questions.  Are we different because we’re a B Corp? Or are we a B Corp because we’re different?

I believe we became a B Corp because we were already different. The essence of our secret sauce has always been to treat people as we would wish to be treated, regardless of whether those people are our clients or our community or our coworkers. Becoming a B Corp simply gave that ethos a name and a conversation-starting symbol for our business cards.

Of course, the act of naming a phenomenon alters it.

By applying the B Corp label to ourselves, we have signed on to be a part of a larger movement of for-profit companies who see an opportunity to use their success as a force for good. The benefit of B Labs’ endorsement comes with the obligation to raise our standards to match those encapsulated in the new assessment each time we re-certify.

Regardless of the B Corp status, we’re proud to simply be a company that’s a force for good. In 2018, we gave away more than 1000 hours of pro bono and community service. The impact of those hours is immeasurable, and the people who directly benefited would have felt the absence. We also hosted our third annual Social Impact Challenge – with winners across the state.

And therein lies the answer to our original question: What’s a B Corp?

It’s us – the people – doing our best to make the world a better place one day at a time.

Being the only Certified B Corporation law firm in North Carolina, it is not lost on us that we are leading the way in the treatment of our employees and clients. Because we have been through the B Corp certification process our attorneys can help you decide if being a B Corp is the right decision for your business.