Dave Curran, ESG and Law Institute executive director and co-chair of the Paul, Weiss ESG Advisory Practice, and Paul, Weiss Chairman Brad Karp co-authored a column, “The ESG Outlook for 2022,” published in ALM Corporate Counsel. The authors discuss the major ESG trends of 2021, including increasing regulatory scrutiny and rising shareholder activism, as well as strategies general counsel can adopt in navigating the ESG landscape in 2022.

“The traditional patterns and tactics lawyers use to go about their business are not sufficient to deal with ESG issues that often span multiple businesses and functions across the organization,” the authors write. “Legal teams must be involved with HR, investor relations, finance, and business units likely to encounter ESG issues. Lawyers are in an ideal position to coordinate disparate parts of an organization and fill important gaps.”

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Dave Curran, ESG and Law Institute executive director and co-chair of the Paul, Weiss ESG Advisory Practice, and corporate partner Laura Turano, co-authored a column, “When It Comes to ESG, You’re Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link,” in ALM Corporate Counsel.

The authors discuss the key role that lawyers play in spotting ESG-related risks during the due diligence phase of an M&A deal and the importance of addressing potential weak links in the company’s supply chains, management, reputational backgrounds of their boards, or data collection practices.

“Lawyers have the duty and the authority to raise a flag if they detect any suspicious activities or missing data, even if it slows down the process,” they write. “The executive team may be under pressure to sign a deal quickly to satisfy investors or pursue their business goals. But lawyers should always remember the power and influence they wield.”

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Dave Curran, ESG and Law Institute executive director and co-chair of the Paul, Weiss ESG Advisory Practice, and Paul, Weiss executive compensation partner Jean McLoughlin wrote an article published in NACD Private Company Directorship on November 21. The article, “Tying Pre-IPO Compensation to ESG Commitments,” discusses the steps emerging, pre-IPO companies should take to develop an ESG-focused executive compensation program. Prior to an IPO, business leaders should ensure that the company has a holistic, strategic approach to ESG and establish mechanisms that will allow the company to tie compensation to ESG commitments in a measurable way.

“Don’t move too fast or follow the herd. Executive incentives work best when they are clear and consistent, and truly align with the overall goals of your company. Dive into what matters for your company and your industry, and then use executive compensation as a tool to make your ESG aspirations a reality,” the authors write.

» read the article

On October 27, Paul, Weiss hosted a virtual, senior-level roundtable, “ESG Intersects with PE: Practical ESG Considerations for Private Equity,” with general counsel, chief compliance officers and other C-suite executives from top private equity firms. Sustainability & ESG Advisory Practice Co-Chair Dave Curran, who moderated the conversation, was joined by corporate partners Jeremy Veit and Austin Pollet; Jean Rogers, ESG expert and founder and former CEO of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board; and Nadia Karkar, general counsel of TPG Growth & Rise.

The discussion focused on the role lawyers, both in-house and outside counsel, play in helping organizations further their ESG agendas. The heightened focus by investors, activists, regulators, rating agencies and other stakeholders on ESG has brought about increased scrutiny of ESG commitments and how organizations disclose their efforts. The featured speakers shared practical tips for PE firms on how to protect against risk while also meeting their business commitments.

» read the takeaways from the discussion

New York and Berkeley, Calif., September 29, 2021 – Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP today announced the launch of the 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. 

As organizations ramp up their sustainability and social impact commitments, new legal risks and regulations arise, creating an urgent need for centralized, solutions-oriented research and analysis that will help boards, executives, institutional investors and lawyers navigate this new legal landscape. Continue Reading Paul, Weiss Launches ESG and Law Institute, Partners with Berkeley Law

Dave Curran,  ESG and Law Institute executive director and co-chair of the Paul, Weiss ESG Advisory Practice, contributed to market intelligence consultancy Investor Update’s white paper, “The Corporate ESG Guide: The ESG Landscape and Economies in Transition.” Dave was interviewed as one of more than 50 corporate leaders, investors, regulators, advisors and rating agencies from five continents on the challenges of their ongoing efforts to transition to a low-carbon economy.

In the paper, Dave discusses several ESG topics, including regulatory coordination and jurisdictional challenges, ESG-related risks in the global supply chain, and the reporting and disclosure environment. He also highlights the importance of cooperation between senior management, boards and all corporate departments to address the variety of ESG issues that impact the business. “At many companies, ESG has not historically been a board level issue — so boards are now furiously moving to get up to speed on ESG issues. Currently, ESG sits in very different places in an organization, and if they’re not coordinated at some level, there could be challenges,” he says.

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The Sustainability and ESG Advisory practice published a white paper, “2020 U.S. Policymaker ESG Primer,” in partnership with Refinitiv, one of the world’s largest providers of financial markets data and infrastructure. The primer, intended for investors, regulators and policymakers, provides foundational knowledge of what constitutes ESG, identifies what data is available and what data still needs to be collected, and highlights the frameworks and standards that currently exist. The primer is the only EGS-focused white paper being circulated over the next few weeks to incoming policymakers and senior government officials and advisors, many of whom may not have substantial knowledge of the topic. Continue Reading Paul, Weiss Publishes 2020 U.S. Policymaker ESG Primer in Partnership With Refinitiv

Dave Curran, Co-Chair of the Sustainability and ESG Advisory Practice at Paul, Weiss and Executive Director of the ESG and Law Institute, co-authored a column, “Hiring the ESG Dream Team,” with Amelia Miazad, head of Berkeley Law’s Business in Society Institute in ALM Corporate Counsel on September 30.

The authors discuss the challenges law firms and corporations face in hiring lawyers with ESG knowledge and skills, and how to build an ESG mindset, which can open up career opportunities for corporate lawyers. “The standard lawyerly approach—researching precedent and applying the law—doesn’t work when it comes to giving advice in the gray areas of ESG. Lawyers also need to be nimble, as ESG issues can and do change very quickly,” they write.

Berkeley’s Business in Society Institute is Paul, Weiss’s inaugural academic partner for the newly launched ESG and Law Institute.

» read the article

ESG Terminology

“ESG” describes a set of environmental, social and governance factors used to measure sustainability and long-term value beyond traditional financial measures. ESG topics increasingly are the focus of asset managers, asset owners such as pension funds and insurance companies, and other investors, as well as proxy advisory firms, index providers, regulators and rating agencies. ESG themes now routinely figure on agendas of corporate boards of directors and corporate management teams.

There is no single definition of ESG and no single set of ESG standards or metrics. We highlight below the topics commonly covered within the three categories of ESG and provide definitions of some of the key terms used in ESG disclosures, reports and regulations. Continue Reading ESG Lexicon

2020 ESG Trends: In a year overshadowed by the Covid-19 global pandemic, many questioned whether the momentum ESG experienced leading up to the crisis was sustainable, or if companies would decide to focus on other priorities. That concern was laid to rest when the pandemic was followed rapidly by protests focused on racial and social injustice and other unrest, and ESG initiatives continued to be prominent in both the public and private sectors. ESG has proven to have genuine staying power with an array of very influential stakeholders, including governments, investors, employees, activists, NGOs and related constituencies taking up the mantle. We examine some of the key trends in ESG investments, reporting standards and regulatory regimes during 2020:

Continue Reading Sustainability & ESG Year in Review: Key Takeaways