Practice

Environmental, Social & Governance

30+ years advising on ESG issues and best practices

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues have become a priority for businesses, institutions and investors. A strong ESG program can reduce reputational, legal, and monetary risks that stem from a business’ operations, and can also help build stronger brands and promote long-term growth. Businesses require sound legal counsel with deep experience to guide them through this rapidly evolving landscape.

Our team has been providing ESG-related guidance in various ways since the 1980s, giving us the experience and institutional memory to craft impactful and cutting edge ESG strategies. Over the 30+ years we have worked on ESG-related issues, we have helped clients develop and implement internationally-recognized human rights, social, and environmental and industry best practices.

Our multi-disciplinary team – comprised of well-known corporate, litigation, energy, environmental, and human rights advisors – can help your business develop and implement an ESG program specifically designed for your organization’s needs. Our team includes:
  • One of the US representatives that helped to create the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
  • The former General Counsel and Secretary of the Board of Directors at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), charged with guiding policy formation and designed program structures related to New York state's Clean Energy Standard, Offshore Wind program, large-scale renewable energy credit program, the NY Green Bank, NY-Sun solar program, and programmatic and regulatory frameworks for the state's electric vehicles, community solar, energy storage, Property Assessed Clean Energy, building efficiency and related initiatives
  • One of the leading energy and environmental attorneys in the nation, joining us after serving as in-house counsel to the largest renewable fuels producer in the world, and as acting general counsel of the largest renewable fuels trade association
  • A former Vice President of one of the world's most recognized clothing brands, with responsibility for global implementation of the company's code of conduct and government relations
  • The former Senior Foreign Policy Advisor and Counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, focusing on human rights, trade, and national security issues and creating the first voluntary code of conduct for U.S. multinationals, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
  • A board member from the The Ceres Board of Directors, which is comprised of sustainability leaders with diverse backgrounds in sustainable investing, business, research, policy, law and advocacy, working to build sustainability leadership and drive sustainable solutions throughout the economy
  • A former Senior Counsel from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Division of Enforcement
  • The author of the leading industry guidance for corporate implementation of the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent standard with Indigenous Peoples
  • A former active participant in the Secretariat of the Initiative of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (2011-2018)
  • One of the most followed environmental law authors in the United States, recognized by JD Supra 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards
  • Numerous lawyers celebrated as leaders in their fields by Chambers USA, Chambers Global, Legal 500, Who's Who Legal and IFLR1000

Areas of Focus

We provide proactive, informed and pragmatic advice to help clients take advantage of the entire range of opportunities associated with ESG compliance, while managing related risks.
ENVIRONMENTAL
  • Evaluation of environmental sustainability and greenhouse gas disclosure frameworks, related reporting, and other external communications by public and private companies regarding their policies, achievements and goals
  • Advice on structuring and implementing transactions in furtherance of voluntary corporate sustainability policies, including: climate action plans, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and preparation of climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resiliency plans
  • Advice on structuring and implementing transactions related to the purchase of renewable and clean energy and other activities in furtherance of such plans and policies, including: Power purchase agreements (PPAs), Corporate PPAs, virtual power purchase agreements (VPPAs), and other power purchase agreements, carbon and GHG offset transactions, renewable energy attributes and certificate purchases agreements, including Corporate PPAs and VPPAs in multiple jurisdictions
  • Emergency counseling when environmental crises arise
  • Developing environmental statements and policies tailored to a client’s operations
  • Proxy communications and responses to stakeholder initiatives
SOCIAL/HUMAN RIGHTS
  • Aligning business practices with international human rights standards
  • Advising clients on the rights of indigenous peoples, modern slavery, fundamental worker rights, and human-rights related sanctions
  • Conducting in-depth human rights impact assessments on company operations and projects
  • Mediating dialogue between companies, rights-holders, civil society groups, and government representatives
  • Step-by-step strategies for successfully engaging with a wide range of stakeholders, including governments, academic researchers, think tanks, civil society organizations, and unions
  • Proxy communications and responses to human rights activism
  • Developing human rights statements and policies tailored to a client’s operations
  • Corporate culture counseling as related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and racial justice
  • Emergency counseling when human rights crises arise
  • Counseling on anti-bribery and anti-corruption compliance, investigations and litigation
GOVERNANCE
  • Developing and implementing policies and procedures related to anti-corruption, anti-bribery, sanctions compliance, anti- money laundering, and conflicts of interest
  • Counseling on good governance and ethical business practices
  • Board composition matters
  • ESG-related reporting in SEC filings and other external communications
  • Responding to SEC inquiries and investigations concerning ESG disclosures and investor outreach
  • Evaluation and selection of ESG metrics by investors
  • ESG investment strategy
  • ESG strategy development for operating companies and institutional investors
  • ESG-related due diligence in acquisitions and other transactions
  • Counseling on ESG-related matters in sale and exit preparation
  • ESG-related debt financing arrangements
  • Advice on ERISA requirements and related DOL guidance regarding ESG investment and proxy voting practices
What is a Sustainability-Linked Loan, and Should My Company Get One?
Under pressure from shareholder groups, investors and customers, you might already have “green initiatives” in your business plan, and you probably have already identified risks related to climate change and other social and environmental factors. Is there a way to cash in on what you are already doing by accessing the growing market for sustainability-linked loans (sometimes referred to as ESG-linked loans)? Here we will refer to these loans as sustainability-linked loans or SLLs.
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A Business and Human Rights Checklist for In-House Counsel
Human rights concerns present distinct challenges for in-house counsel. This checklist addresses the questions to consider.
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Isa Mirza

Senior Advisor

Washington, DC

202.261.7379