Earlier this year, Paul, Weiss’s ESG and Law Institute signed on its second academic partner, Howard University School of Law. Dave Curran, executive director of the Institute, recently sat down with Howard University School of Law Dean Danielle Holley-Walker and Paul, Weiss partner Secretary Jeh Johnson to discuss the partnership’s impact.
Paul, Weiss Sustainability & ESG Advisory Practice Director Madhuri Pavamani will participate in a panel discussion, “The Journey: Moving to the Sustainable Enterprise,” as part of the 2022 Westchester County Association’s Sustainable Business Conference, “Profit and Purpose.”
The panel will discuss the necessity of corporate sustainability for long-term profit and stability, and how organizations are currently integrating innovative ideas into strategic business models. Madhuri will join Anna Marciano, general counsel & head of Sustainability for Nespresso USA and Matthew Orrell, a partner at PKF O’Connor Davies, to explain what sustainability means for their organizations and how it can be measured.
The conference will be held at Pace University in White Plains, New York on July 14 from 3 – 8 p.m. ET, and Madhuri’s panel will take place at 5:15 p.m. ET.
On May 17, the ESG and Law Institute hosted a virtual roundtable, “Upcoming Collision: SFDR and Human Capital Data,” with general counsel, heads of ESG, chief compliance officers and other C-Suite executives from top financial institutions and asset management firms.
Dave Curran, executive director of the Institute and co-chair of the Paul, Weiss ESG Advisory Practice, facilitated the conversation. He was joined by Robert Esposito, senior counsel, ESG at Apollo Global Management; Karen Karniol-Tambour, co-chief investment officer for sustainable investing at Bridgewater Associates; T. Robert Zochowski III, program director, Impact Investing & Sustainability Special Projects at Harvard Business School; and Marie Freier, global head of cross-asset ESG research at Barclays Investment Bank.
Speakers discussed what implementation means for fund managers, how they can better prepare for the constantly evolving regulation, and the current state of ESG data disclosure and assurance.
The ESG and Law Institute is hosting an off-the-record, senior-level roundtable conversation on the European Commission’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), moderated by Dave Curran, ESG and Law Institute executive director and co-chair of the Paul, Weiss ESG Advisory Practice.
The discussion, “Upcoming Collision: SFDR and Human Capital Data,” will explore what the SFDR’s upcoming implementation means for fund managers, the current state of data assurance, better practices for portfolio data collection, and the relationship between the SFDR and the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).
Speakers will include Robert Esposito, senior ESG counsel at Apollo; Karen Karniol-Tambour, co-chief investment officer for Sustainable Investing at Bridgewater Associates; Rob Zochowski, program director, Impact Investing & Sustainability Special Projects at Harvard Business School; and Marie Freier, global head of Cross Asset ESG Research at Barclays.
The virtual roundtable will take place on May 17 at 10 a.m. ET.
Dave Curran, ESG and Law Institute executive director and co-chair of the Paul, Weiss ESG Advisory Practice, and Paul, Weiss Chairman Brad Karp discuss how lawyers can help companies reexamine their ESG priorities and navigate the new world order in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in their expert opinion column “Russia-Ukraine War Triggers New ESG Considerations,” published on May 9 in Corporate Counsel.
The authors discuss the techniques lawyers can leverage, such as scenario planning, pressure-testing data and revisiting company ESG priorities, which can help companies respond nimbly and strategically. Lawyers should be “on the lookout for geopolitical or other clues that the ground will shift once again and update scenario plans frequently,” the authors write. “As the Russian invasion has shown, the lens of scrutiny has gotten sharper. There will be no grace period. And the consequences of a mistake in this environment are incalculable.”
Following its launch on September 29, the Paul, Weiss ESG and Law Institute, a first-of-its-kind research initiative led by Dave Curran, ESG and Law Institute executive director and co-chair of the Paul, Weiss ESG Advisory Practice, garnered significant attention from national media outlets. The Institute is a forum of businesses and academic institutions dedicated to the independent study of issues relating to the intersection of ESG, business and the law.
Dave was quoted extensively in a Reuters article, “ESG is ‘mission critical.’ Can Paul Weiss Get Law Schools on Board?” In the article, published on October 6, Dave discussed how students and professors associated with UC Berkeley School of Law’s Business in Society Institute, the ESG and Law Institute’s inaugural academic partner, will work with Paul, Weiss attorneys to conduct research, convene roundtables and assemble thought leaders in the ESG arena.
“We want the legal industry to recognize that it’s mission critical for lawyers to deeply understand ESG and how it intersects with the law,” Dave said. “We need students to be thinking about it. This is the fastest growing specialty that no one knows about.”
An article published in ALM’s The Recorder on October 5, “Paul Weiss, UC Berkeley Team Up to Close Knowledge Gap in ‘Existential’ ESG Questions,” discussed how the Institute will help organizations address ESG gray areas, such as how to navigate diversity, equity and inclusion, particularly when boards are making public statements in support of such initiatives, and how to address social and environmental risks that require collaboration among competitors.
“Lawyers need to be involved because they have the cross-enterprise ability to weave parts of a larger organization together and create policies and procedures for tracking, measuring and monitoring these obligations that companies have been making ad hoc,” Dave said.
Amelia Miazad, faculty director and senior research fellow at Berkeley Law’s Business in Society Institute, says the partnership “will enrich our research with what is happening on the ground… [and] allow us to have deeper insights into where tensions and business practice lie.” Dave and Amelia are hopeful the partnership will cause a shift in the way ESG matters are studied, addressed and confronted.
Under the partnership, the firm will provide two $25,000 fellowships to Berkeley Law students for research, programs and events. The firm is actively looking for additional partners.
Paul, Weiss’s ESG and Law Institute, in partnership with the FiscalNote Executive Institute, will co-host a series of continuing legal education courses focused on top issues in digital transformation and environmental, social and governance (ESG).
Dave Curran, ESG and Law Institute executive director and co-chair of the Paul, Weiss ESG Advisory Practice, will instruct the first of three courses alongside Kate O’Leary, global executive litigation counsel for General Electric and member of the ESG and Law Institute’s board of advisors. The course, “ESG & Law 101,” will explore the ways in which ESG intersects with law, business and government affairs, among other topics. Sessions on “Overcoming Resistance to Innovation Within the Legal Department” and “Ethical Use of AI and the Emerging Legal Landscape” will round out the series.
Dave’s session will take place on May 5 at 10 a.m. ET. The second and third sessions will take place on July 14 and September 22, respectively.
New York and Washington, D.C., January 13, 2022 – Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP’s ESG and Law Institute, a forum of businesses and academic institutions dedicated to the independent study of issues relating to the intersection of ESG (environmental, social and governance), business and the law, today announced that it has signed on its second academic partner, Howard University School of Law.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with Howard Law, one of the nation’s finest law schools and one that shares our mission to advocate for and defend the rights of all, to create a new hub for ESG legal research and thought leadership,” said Jeh Charles Johnson, a senior partner at Paul, Weiss and former Secretary of Homeland Security. “We look forward to leveraging Howard Law’s leading academic expertise to expand the study of the real-world challenges of tackling diversity, equity and inclusion.”
“Howard Law is honored to partner with Paul, Weiss’s ESG and Law Institute,” said Howard University School of Law Dean Danielle Holley-Walker. “ESG is a cutting-edge practice area that puts the work of diversity, equity and inclusion into practice. We look forward to doing critical legal research in the ESG area and introducing our students to this area of practice.”
Howard Law is the second academic institution to partner with the ESG and Law Institute since it was founded in September. The Institute aims to meet an urgent need for independent, solutions-oriented research and analysis by boards, executives and institutional investors on the intersection of ESG with legal risk.
“Companies are grappling with how to address the environmental, social and governance issues that are most important to their stakeholders, and Howard Law has been actively engaged on some of the most pressing social issues of our time,” said David Curran, ESG and Law Institute executive director and co-chair of the Sustainability & ESG Advisory Practice at Paul, Weiss. “We are excited to combine our networks and resources to create action-oriented intelligence that lawyers, boards and company leaders can leverage to address their ESG and diversity, equity and inclusion challenges.”
As a part of the partnership, the ESG and Law Institute will also provide two scholarships to select Howard Law students to conduct research and analysis on legal ESG topics.
The Institute’s latest partnership with Howard Law comes 22 months after Paul, Weiss launched a first-of-its-kind Sustainability & ESG Advisory Practice to help clients navigate the legal, business and political ramifications of developing and implementing ESG initiatives, and four months after the practice launched the Institute via an inaugural partnership with UC Berkeley School of Law. Paul, Weiss’s Sustainability & ESG Advisory Practice maintains an active leadership role within the Institute, partnering with business and professional associations, ESG experts and other academic institutions to organize roundtable discussions, conduct research and identify emerging issues in the field.
“We are proud to support scholarships that will enable Howard Law students to conduct cutting-edge research on the intersection of ESG and the law, and we are excited to collaborate with Howard Law on game-changing thought leadership on ESG and diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Paul, Weiss chairman Brad S. Karp.
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Dave Curran, ESG and Law Institute executive director and co-chair of the Paul, Weiss ESG Advisory Practice, discussed corporate governance and other ESG topics in a recent Reuters article.
The article, “General counsels & ESG: Range of skills needed to help corporate leaders navigate challenging terrain,” discusses the crucial role chief legal officers play in the context of an evolving ESG landscape.
In particular, Dave noted that an effective governance framework is paramount. While many lawyers have traditionally focused on litigation and dealmaking, “the middle, between transactions and litigation, is where all the action is,” Dave noted. “And the middle is the thing that the companies’ in-house counsel are concerned about.”
Dave Curran, ESG and Law Institute executive director and co-chair of the Paul, Weiss ESG Advisory Practice, has been recognized by the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) as an honoree of the 2022 NACD Directorship 100, an annual recognition of the leading corporate directors and corporate governance experts who significantly impact boardroom practices and performance.
For more than 40 years, NACD has been on the leading edge of corporate governance, setting standards of excellence that have elevated board performance.