Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher has responded to the ever-increasing demand for environmental, social and governance (ESG) capabilities with the launch of a specialised practice fronted by a team of its lawyers out of the US and London.
The new offering – aimed at providing clients with holistic advice on corporate responsibility, risks and opportunities – will be led by London partners Susy Bullock and Selina Sagayam, Dallas senior of counsel Ronald Kirk, Los Angeles partner Perlette Jura, and Washington DC partners Elizabeth Ising and Michael Murphy.
The move comes at a time when ESG is increasingly top of the agenda for corporates amid escalating pressure from stakeholders and regulators to prove their governance credentials across the board.
For their part, law firm leaders have been forced to realise in recent years that, to attract and retain talented younger lawyers coming through the ranks, it is not enough to just pay lip service to such matters as environmental sustainability.
Elizabeth Ising said: ‘ESG has evolved to become a key performance metric and an important investment strategy due to the growing focus on long-term value creation. Organisations and their leadership increasingly must implement and disclose robust processes and frameworks to address the growing number of rules, standards and expectations that apply at a national, regional and global level.’
ESG has come to the fore during the coronavirus crisis at a time when ethical governance has been under more scrutiny than ever. Said Susy Bullock: ‘The pandemic has played a role in demonstrating that ESG integration into strategy is business-critical, and questions of corporate purpose and what constitutes good governance are being considered in the context of an active debate around stakeholder capitalism, and a growing body of litigation connected with ESG concerns.’
‘The heightened pace towards sustainable finance and investment is not just being driven by the private sector but by regulators and governments and we are seeing its impact across the lending, insurance and investment industries,’ concluded Selina Sagayam. ‘Capital flows are increasingly being directed towards borrowers and asset managers that understand and effectively manage sustainability issues, and the levels of growth and innovation in “green finance” are at unprecedented levels, signalling a comprehensive shift in how financial markets work and generating new and exciting businesses opportunities for our clients.’