As businesses and investors alike look to align their investments and operations with their values, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and sustainable business practices have become increasingly paramount. Drawing upon the talents of our multidisciplinary lawyers in strategic global hubs, Morgan Lewis provides elite legal services and carefully calibrated strategies to bring our clients’ ambitious ESG and sustainability goals to life.
Our expansive industry, corporate governance, and financial market experience mean that we can help our clients evaluate the practical and legal implications of their ESG and sustainability strategies. We advise on the full range of ESG and sustainable investment matters including fund formation, investment, transactional, regulatory, and compliance. We also act as trusted advisers to public and private companies on ESG-related policy, risk management, disclosure, due diligence, and contract provisions, as well as alternative entity formation (e.g., Certified B Corps, benefit corporations). Our team—recognized as a market innovator on ESG and impact investment lending—devises strategies for our lending clients to ensure their investors can track social impact in loan covenants, and develops ESG transaction structures—from early “angel” round investing, to established syndicated loans, to ESG-specialized financing.
Companies aspiring to invest in clean energy technologies, reduce climate-changing emissions, increase energy efficiency, and actualize sustainability goals benefit from our decarbonization and sustainability experience. We help clients adapt to a new world of regulations and capitalize on resources for clean technology, energy conservation, and emission reductions; advise on renewable energy projects involving emerging technologies; negotiate power purchase agreements—including virtual PPAs; and assist with permitting, development, and financing of clean energy generation and transmission projects.
We counsel investment advisers, asset managers, and public and private companies on the evolving global ESG-related regulatory framework, helping clients evaluate opportunities, regulatory disclosures, and litigation and enforcement trends. We also advise on the environmental regulatory regime arising from climate change concerns, including complex issues under the Clean Air Act.
We counsel clients on the DOL’s efforts to regulate ERISA plan fiduciaries’ use of ESG factors in plan investment decision-making, helping them navigate applicable regulatory guidance to balance their fiduciary duties with marketplace demands, shareholder and retirement plan participant interest, and DOL enforcement efforts. We also assist non-ERISA retirement plans, such as government plans, with these issues.
We are a trusted advisor to companies advancing diverse, inclusive, and harassment-free workplaces and ethical supply chains free from connections to forced labor and unsustainable practices—whether in response to stakeholder demand or to bring a company’s cultural aspirations to fruition. We counsel clients on investigations and crisis management; assessments of policies, procedures, and workplace culture; new or enhanced diversity and inclusion strategies; and training on racial equality, implicit bias, discrimination, and harassment.
We help companies, fund investors and sponsors, private foundations, public charities, community development financial institutions, family offices, and impact-oriented businesses to optimize tax advantages in transactions achieving ESG, sustainable investing, and impact investing goals. We advise on impact-oriented structures—including opportunity zone funds, mission-related investing, economic development, developing country investments, and funds eligible for program-related private foundation investment. We also support corporations and family offices in their philanthropic activities, including funding donation and endowment programs through charities, donor-advised funds, and private foundations.