As investors demand increasing company attention to various forms of sustainability, environmental policies, diversity & inclusion programming and other social issues, and corporate governance, Foley helps its clients understand and navigate the cross-currents in the swift flow of ESG-related law. While EU- and U.S.-based governmental agencies, as well as organizations like the World Economic Forum, the Value Reporting Foundation (the overseer of SASB standards), the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol are establishing different reporting frameworks and standards, businesses must decide which to follow. During this unsettled time, Foley provides understanding of competing interests to client operations and ESG goals. We identify the risks and rewards, ferret out the often-hidden pitfalls that embarrass or surprise earnest executives, and guide acquisitive parties through the due diligence process that leads to the successful conclusion of an ESG-compatible transaction.
Foley leverages a deeply experienced, cross-disciplinary team to help clients identify material issues, develop strategies and programs, and ultimately achieve transparency and compliance that satisfies investors and watchdogs alike. We seek to protect clients’ long-term value and profitability, and to turn challenges into opportunities. Our services span legislative, regulatory compliance, litigation, and reputational concerns and are grounded in hundreds of years of combined experience, offering both long-term and up-to-the-minute insights and guidance to clients. While we certainly may assist with individual components of ESG, our greatest value lies in bringing together multidisciplinary legal practitioners who help clients align their end-to-end operations and design a comprehensive approach to full-company ESG compliance that they can defend and highlight.
Our ESG team includes attorneys in more than a dozen practice areas.
Our Capital Markets and Public Company Advisory attorneys represent a broad portfolio of clients, including investors and public and private companies. We understand that ESG has become a business imperative, and we assist clients to position them for the creation of long-term value and a sustainable competitive advantage through creation of ESG policies and strategies, governance structures, and related disclosures. We help make sense of the numerous and inconsistent reporting standards, and improve compliance and reporting based on each client’s legal and business goals. We counsel clients on proper disclosures for communications within investor presentations, annual and sustainability reports, and SEC reports and proxy statements. We support clients’ boards of directors in meeting their fiduciary duties with respect to the continually evolving ESG space, including through keeping our clients up to date on the latest trends and practices, and through supporting risk management and mitigation practices. Additionally, we are well versed in the complexities of green financing, mergers and acquisitions, and other transactions where sustainability and/or a “green” focus is key to the transaction’s success.
Our seasoned Labor & Employment Team helps clients analyze, formulate, and execute on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. We offer training and representation as required, and we develop frameworks for issues such as pay equity, affirmative action, workplace harassment, and internal investigations. We also help clients delve into their vendor and supplier operations to gain insight into their DEI programs and ensure they meet each client’s standards and expectations.
As climate change becomes one of the defining issues of our time, our Environmental and Energy Teams work with clients to manage their impact on the planet through overall operations. Our deep experience in Renewable Energy includes working with clients to finance and install renewable energy generation as well as to enter into direct and virtual power purchase agreements. In addition, our Energy Transition and Climate Adaptation Team works to develop products and services to achieve “net zero” emissions, develop contracts for generation of carbon offsets, obtain patent protection for new product technologies that will transition our modes of transportation, and strategize for emissions reporting. We stay ahead of regulatory and reporting developments — including international, federal, state, and regional requirements — to ensure that clients develop dynamic programs that are also ESG-compliant in a market increasingly focused on ESG.
Our Government Enforcement Defense & Investigations and Securities Litigation practices help develop compliance programs guided by the latest ESG principles to decrease reputational, investigatory, and whistleblower risk; provide guidance on the view of securities regulators regarding ESG disclosures for publicly traded issuers and institutional investors alike; and defend clients in investigations or lawsuits alleging failure to comply with relevant requirements, non-disclosure of material information, and misrepresentation of ESG metrics or strategies.
ESG considerations are increasingly important for the acquisition and management of real estate assets, so our attorneys advise developers, investors, owners, tenants, governments, and regulatory entities on these new priorities, along with those issues that have long concerned them. Our Real Estate Group works closely with our other Foley practices in areas such as renewable energy infrastructure, conservation easements, transactions, and financing as well as the acquisition, development, construction, and finance of wind, solar, hydro, biomass, and district energy projects.
With the increased focus on consumer privacy and heightened awareness of cybersecurity incidents, the area of data privacy, protection, and management has become an integral aspect of ESG. Our Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Team works with clients to ensure that data is used to sustain a competitive advantage while remaining secure, socially responsible, and compliant with global privacy and cybersecurity laws. We help our clients ensure that data is responsibly collected and stored, reducing the environmental impacts of large-scale data storage and helping clients avoid reputational risk. We also partner with clients to develop comprehensive privacy and cybersecurity programs.
Foley’s Government Solutions Practice Group hosts premier federal and state public policy (lobby), regulatory, FTC Consumer, State Attorneys General, and related practices working on ESG issues in Washington, D.C. as well as in state capitals across the country. This includes, but is not limited to, federal and state ESG policies and state laws and regulations to the contrary effecting energy, investment, procurement, and other industries.
From corporate clients to investors and lawmakers, Foley’s ESG team brings together deep expertise across industries and legal disciplines to solve complex issues and position our clients for success in a fast-changing, but more sustainable, world.