Big Law Firms Pledge Free Work for Sustainability Causes


Nine major law firms pledged $15 million in free legal assistance to entrepreneurs and nonprofits focused on sustainability and climate change.

The Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy program, announced Sept. 14 as part of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, will assist businesses and organizations needing legal help on sustainability initiatives including in the areas of energy, transportation, and land use.

Firms that committed to providing at least $2 million each in pro bono legal services by 2020 are Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP; Cooley LLP; Dentons; Holland & Knight LLP; Latham & Watkins LLP; Morrison & Foerster LLP; and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

Hogan Lovells and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP each committed to $500,000 in pro bono services by 2020.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said a “team of fighters from some of our best law firms” would work “to be sure that no one goes into a fight with his or her hands tied behind their back.”

Some Also Represent Big Oil

Some of the firms in the program also represent major oil companies.

One of the firms, Morrison & Foerster, is interested in working with entrepreneurs and nonprofits “as they seek to establish greater inroads with traditional oil and gas” companies, Susan H. Mac Cormac, a partner at Morrison & Foerster, told reporters Sept. 14.

Such work is not a conflict for the firm because oil and gas companies recognize they are going to have to diversify to adapt to climate change, and they’re looking to reduce their carbon emissions, she said.

“If you ask the chief sustainability officers at Chevron, they see climate change and see it as a big threat,” Mac Cormac said.

One of the chairs of the Global Climate Action Summit is Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg Environment is operated by entities controlled by Michael Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bobby Magill at bmagill@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bloombergenvironment.com