Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

LEADERS

Overview

Gibson Dunn’s ESG practice provides holistic and sophisticated advice to clients on their corporate responsibility and environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities.

Clients are facing increasing calls from stakeholders and regulators, as well as within their own organizations, to proactively address ESG across their business footprint. In practical terms, this means grappling with a complex web of developments across jurisdictions, as well as growing industry guidance and regulatory scrutiny, and management of legal, reputational and litigation risk; all while addressing public disclosure requirements and calls for greater transparency.

Our ESG practice is a multidisciplinary, international team leveraging lawyers from across the firm practicing in the areas of litigation, corporate governance, corporate transactions, finance, compensation, information security, tax and business and human rights. We engage in constant collaboration and leadership across these disciplines in recognition of the universal nature of these issues for our clients. We offer seamless and integrated advice – collaborating with our ESG colleagues across the global firm.

Key aspects of our practice include:

GOVERNANCE, POLICY, STRATEGY & ENGAGEMENT

  • Advising clients on the adoption, embedding and implementation of global governmental and industry standards
  • Advising boards and their committees on developing jurisprudence, effective governance, corporate culture and oversight of ESG risks and opportunities
  • Advising boards and management on the expectations of ESG-related regulatory requirements on institutional investors and proactive engagement with stakeholders
  • Supporting clients in their responses to ESG-focused shareholder activism, including shareholder proposals, and proactively addressing investor requirements
  • Assisting boards on setting targets and designing and implementing appropriate monitoring systems for ESG protocols, policies and regulations
  • Undertaking due diligence assessments for companies on key ESG focus areas with a view to advising on developing ESG governance roadmaps and strategies

REPORTING & DISCLOSURES

  • Advising on voluntary disclosures, commitments including in SEC filings, sustainability reports and website pages, by energy and other companies regarding achieving carbon emission reductions and other ESG initiatives
  • Advising on mandatory disclosures including compliance with amendments to Regulation S-K regarding human capital disclosures, the UK Modern Slavery Act, non-financial reporting directive, gender pay gap reports and upcoming mandatory Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)
  • Advising on evolving standards including analyzing how to respond to calls to disclose additional information under the TCFD and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)
  • Advising on evolving metrics and financial reporting standards

LITIGATION, INVESTIGATIONS & DISPUTE RESOLUTION

  • Representing clients in civil litigation (including class actions and securities actions) as well as criminal and administrative proceedings on matters such as the environment, supply chain and climate change, as well as misrepresentation claims for sustainable products (alleged “greenwashing,” for example)
  • Advising on relevant internal and external investigations, with holistic support for crisis management and engagement with stakeholders and regulators
  • Acting for clients in OECD National Contact Point proceedings, pursuant to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
  • Acting for clients in international commercial and investor-state arbitration proceedings

TRANSACTIONAL SUPPORT SOLUTIONS

  • Developing and implementing ESG tailored buyer/vendor due diligence models
  • Identifying ESG value impacts and risks on acquisitions, investments and lending for both investors, targets, buyers, lenders and borrowers
  • Advising buyers and sellers on risk mitigation tools (including insurance solutions) and integration strategies in the context of ESG-related issues
  • Advising pre-IPO companies on devising and implementing ESG strategies including relevant corporate policies, governance structures and executive compensation packages that use ESG metrics

ENERGY TRANSITION

  • Advising on energy transition strategies, understanding net zero targets and managing the transition
  • Advising on the development of M&A and joint venture advice relating to renewable, clean and alternative energy projects, including carbon capture, use and storage, and hydrogen production
  • Advising on the transition of the shipping industry from traditional fuels to the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as bunker fuel

SUSTAINABLE FINANCE

  • Advising on all aspects of sustainable financing including ESG-linked loans, sustainability-linked or “green” loans, sustainable supply chain financing and financing energy transition and renewable energy projects
  • Advising on ESG considerations in connection with IPOs and other capital markets transactions and ESG-related products, such as green bonds, social bonds and sustainability-linked bonds

SUSTAINABLE INVESTMENT

  • Advising asset and private fund managers about the expectations of institutional investors including sovereigns and differing reporting requirements
  • Advising asset and private fund managers on developing and implementing ESG-related investment policies and investor engagement policies with respect to ESG matters
  • Advising on the implementation of ESG-related regulatory requirements, including the European Disclosures Regulation and Taxonomy Regulation
  • Advising asset owners and raising awareness of managers on stewardship obligations on asset owners including new and upcoming legal requirements

HUMAN CAPITAL

  • Advising boards and management on inclusion and diversity, mandatory and voluntary diversity and compensation reporting (including gender and ethnicity pay gap reporting, CEO pay ratios) and equal pay issues
  • Advising boards and management in relation to complaints of whistleblowing, discrimination, bullying and harassment and conducting investigations in relation thereto
  • Advising boards and management on the drafting and implementation of executive compensation strategies and policies
  • Advising boards and their committees on developing best practices in relation to employee and community engagement, whistleblowing, inclusion and diversity, health & safety and working conditions
  • Advising boards on supply chain diligence and management, data ethics and information security

CORPORATE TAX STRATEGY

  • Advising companies on all tax risk management matters (including tax policy, transparency (for example, the EU mandatory disclosure rules (known as DAC6)), governance and tax authority engagement processes)
  • Advising companies with regards to the legal aspects of transfer pricing matters
  • Advising companies with regards to corporate and supply chain tax structuring
  • Assisting clients with evaluating the sustainability and longevity of tax structures and investments, including advising companies on the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) standards and initiatives

THIRD PARTY RATINGS & ESG SCORING

  • Reviewing and analyzing ESG ratings reports, such as ISS’s Governance QualityScore and Environmental and Social Disclosure QualityScore and MSCI’s ESG Ratings Report, and Sustainalytics reports
  • Advising on development of bespoke scoring or rating methodologies

In addition, our ESG practice offers bespoke training, educational awareness sessions and practical workshops for senior executives and directors on a range of topics supporting the ESG objectives of our clients and offering insights on best practice and ESG-related developments including in relation to investigations and enforcement trends, compliance and strategies, and whistleblowing.

Members of our practice actively engage in external forums on ESG and ESG-related matters and support and impact various sustainable not-for-profit groups through thought leadership and pro bono work.

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

Webcast: The Role of ESG in Capital Markets

-April 23, 2021

Understanding the SEC’s Focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance Investing and Investment Advisers

-April 15, 2021

SEC Chair Lays Out a Climate- and ESG-Oriented Agenda and Calls for Comments on Mandatory Climate-Related Disclosure Rules

-March 17, 2021

Part Two – Mandatory Corporate Human Rights Due Diligence: What Now and What Next? An International Perspective

-March 11, 2021

SEC Announces Enforcement Task Force Focused on Climate and ESG Issues

-March 5, 2021

Considerations for Climate Change Disclosures in SEC Reports

-March 2, 2021

Webcast: Challenges in Compliance and Corporate Governance

-February 24, 2021

Okpabi v Shell: Clarification from the English Supreme Court on Jurisdiction and Parent Company Liability

-February 15, 2021

President Biden Issues Executive Orders on Climate Change Policy

-February 6, 2021

Mandatory Corporate Human Rights Due Diligence: What Now and What Next? An International Perspective

-February 8, 2021

Webcast: ESG for Private Fund Managers

-January 22, 2021

Nasdaq Proposes New Board Diversity Rules

-December 4, 2020

Proxy Advisory Firm Updates and Action Items for 2021 Annual Meetings

-December 4, 2020

Webcast: Navigating the dynamic ESG landscape – key UK considerations for boards and senior management

-November 6, 2020

SEC Adopts Amendments To Modernize The SEC’s Shareholder Proposal Rules

-October 1, 2020

National Contact Points: A Unique Grievance Mechanism for Resolving Responsible Business Conduct Disputes

-September 17, 2020

A Double-Edged Sword? Examining the Principles-Based Framework of the SEC’s Recent Amendments to Regulation S-K Disclosure Requirements

-August 31, 2020

Shareholder Proposal Developments During the 2020 Proxy Season

-August 4, 2020

Directors’ duties in the age of COVID-19: where to from here?

-June 30, 2020

Additional U.S. Public Company Disclosure Considerations Related to the Impact of COVID-19

-June 25, 2020

ESG Legal Update: What Corporate Governance and ESG Professionals Need to Know

-June 23, 2020

Now Available: COVID-19 Resources for Public Companies

-April 23, 2020

Perspectives from One Month into the COVID-19 U.S. Outbreak: Public Company Disclosure Considerations

-April 10, 2020

Key Governance Action Items in Response to COVID-19

-April 8, 2020

Latest Overview of Green Bonds and other ESG Financial Products

-April 16, 2020

Considerations for Preparing Your 2020 Proxy Statement

-February 5, 2020

Webcast: Challenges in Compliance and Corporate Governance

-January 24, 2020

UK Regulators Make Further Strides in Responsible Stewardship & Investing

-October 29, 2019

SEC Staff Announces Significant Changes to Shareholder Proposal No-Action Letter Process

-September 10, 2019

Developments on Public Company Disclosures on Board and Executive Diversity

-February 8, 2019

Glass Lewis Issues 2019 Proxy Voting Policy Updates

-November 2, 2018

What Employers Need to Know About California’s New #MeToo Laws

-October 5, 2018

Shareholder Proposal Developments During the 2018 Proxy Season

-July 12, 2018

Legal Risks and ESG Disclosures: What Corporate Secretaries Should Know

-June 25, 2018

Courts Make Doing Good Abroad Bad For Business At Home

-January 14, 2016