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.
Litigation partner Katherine Forrest, corporate partner Jonathan Ashtor and ESG and Law Institute Executive Director and Paul, Weiss Sustainability and ESG Advisory Practice Co-Chair Dave Curran co-authored an “Expert Opinion” column in Corporate Counsel, “The Intersection of Artificial Intelligence and ESG,” published on June 20.
The authors examine the extraordinary potential of AI tools to advance ESG goals, such as ensuring company compliance with ESG guidelines and regulations through large-scale data review, generating policies and procedures that better align with prior ESG commitments, and quantifying the progress of ESG initiatives, among others. They also outline the potential pitfalls of leveraging AI tools, such as data set biases, environmental tradeoffs, governance and reputational considerations, potential litigation and deal-related risks, while noting that many concerns can be mitigated by taking inventory of available AI tools and understanding how they function.
“To mitigate risk, AI should be explainable, trustworthy and reliable,” the authors note. “The use of AI tools may also require new or revised frameworks, standards, regulations and codes of conduct, as well as multi-stakeholder dialogue, consultation and collaboration.”
On May 9, ESG and Law Institute Executive Director and Paul, Weiss Sustainability and ESG Advisory Practice Co-Chair Dave Curran and Paul, Weiss partners Katherine Forrest and Jonathan Ashtor co-hosted an in-person event, “Navigating AI Risk Management from an ESG Perspective,” in collaboration with Deloitte Touche at Paul, Weiss’s New York office.
The program featured a learning session addressing core AI concepts, including use cases and definitions for different AI modeling approaches; the machine learning development lifecycle; and common model evaluation metrics. The learning session was followed by an off-the-record, roundtable discussion with AI experts from Paul, Weiss; Deloitte; and Oracle focused on the value of risk management in addressing legal, ethical and reputational implications of AI, particularly given the rise of generative AI.
Dave Curran, executive director of the Institute and co-chair of the Paul, Weiss ESG Advisory Practice, and Paul, Weiss corporate associate Reco Charity participated in the inaugural “Navigating the Sustainable Organization Symposium,” hosted by Syracuse University’s Dynamic Sustainability Lab.
Dave moderated “Fireside Chat with Chief Sustainability Officers,” which included chief sustainability officers from Colgate-Palmolive Co., Deloitte, Persefoni and Under Armour. Reco spoke on the panel “Careers in Corporate Sustainability: Entry into the Marketplace.”
The symposium focused on the incorporation of ESG in modern-day organizations, including issues of rapidly changing and challenging governance strategies. It featured a range of speakers, including industry leaders, NGOs, corporations, media professionals and government officials.
The event was held on April 3 in Washington, D.C.
Paul, Weiss’s ESG and Law Institute, in partnership with the FiscalNote Executive Institute, will co-host a course “Ethical Use of AI and the Emerging Legal Landscape,” the last in a series of three continuing legal education courses focused on top issues in digital transformation and environmental, social and governance (ESG).
The course will explore the wide range of new legal challenges accompanying the emerging area of artificial intelligence, including aspects of a strong ethical AI program, mitigation of high-risk AI and AI and discrimination.
The course offers CLE credit and will take place on September 22 at 10 a.m. ET.
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.