The Year in Review
During the first year of the Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy Initiative, lawyers in the participating firms worked tirelessly to support non-profits and start-ups helping to build a more sustainable future. The entities receiving pro bono help work in a diverse array of sustainability focused areas, such as ocean pollution reduction, clean energy development, climate resilience, greenhouse gas emission reduction, forest restoration, food waste reduction, sustainable building, and green energy development. The highlights below provide a snapshot of some of the work underway.
Pro Bono Projects
WeWork Food Labs Accelerator
Holland & Knight has partnered with WeWork to provide pro bono legal services to the eight start-up companies that were selected from roughly 500 applicants to participate in WeWork’s Food Labs Accelerator, an incubator that supports innovative new companies as they prepare to launch new technologies designed to address environmental and climate change-related issues in the food and agriculture industry. The Food Labs participants are developing business concepts ranging from the conversion of food waste to usable food and other products, to the development and promotion of plant-based foods and meals, to the improvement of sustainable agricultural practices. Holland & Knight is counseling these start-up innovators on corporate governance and structure, IP, labor and employment, licensing and joint development arrangements, and investor relations.
Blue Forest Conservation
Orrick advised Blue Forest Conservation (“Blue Forest”) in developing a $4 million Forest Resilience Bond, a financing mechanism which raises private capital to finance forest restoration work to reduce the risk of severe fire. As part of its first pilot project, Blue Forest and World Resource Institute will lend the loan proceeds to the National Forest Foundation, which will hire contractors and manage the forestry work in 15,000 acres of forestland in the North Yuba River watershed using ecologically based tree thinning, meadow restoration, prescribed burning, and invasive species management. Blue Forest hopes this initial pilot project will create the framework for forest restoration work country-wide.
Beveridge & Diamond advises the Chesapeake Conservancy on issues involving governance, due diligence, and most recently on a complex multiparty acquisition and conservation of one of the last undeveloped parcels in the Quiet Waters area of Ann Arundel County, Maryland. The Conservancy is non-profit organization based in Annapolis, Maryland dedicated to a wide variety of conservation-related initiatives centered on the Chesapeake Bay, including land conservation, public access to the Bay, regional initiatives to reduce pollution, among many others.
Kinetic Communities Consulting Corporation (KC3)
Nixon Peabody LLP’s corporate, energy, intellectual property and affordable housing attorneys are working with Kinetic Communities Consulting Corporation (KC3), New York City’s first minority- and woman-owned social enterprise benefit corporation. KC3 is dedicated to helping low-income households transition to a democratic clean energy future. Energy democracy is a collaborative community effort focused on shifting away from traditional corporate modes of energy to models that are governed by local communities and are environmentally conscious. KC3 works at the crossroads of affordable housing and energy efficiency, serving underrepresented New Yorkers through education, networking, and making energy efficiency easier to understand. Nixon Peabody has supported KC3’s work with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to create solar rooftop gardens at 24 buildings in 8 developments, creating green jobs for NYCHA residents, and organizing efficiency awareness campaign events that provide active workshops on energy efficiency.
National Parks Conservation Association
Arnold & Porter has been continuing to represent National Parks Conservation Association in a number of matters to protect the National Park System, including: challenging in court the National Park Service’s (“NPS”) view that it lacked authority to prohibit hunting on non-federal land in Grand Teton National Park; contesting President Trump’s reduction of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and protesting the Administration’s management plan for the reduced and excluded areas because of the harmful impacts that will result to adjacent national parks; learning through FOIA requests and related litigation about the decision of the Department of the Interior to open the national parks during the 2018-2019 Government shutdown and the diversion of funds to finance that decision and analyzing the legal implications thereof; addressing challenges in a number of areas to fisheries and other marine resources from climate change and other threats; and other matters.
Aclima and Local Air Quality
Morrison & Foerster attorneys have represented Aclima, the San Francisco-based start-up that provides hyperlocal air quality and climate emissions data and insights, at block-by-block resolution. Aclima’s goal is to generate data for parts of the world that have never had accurate air quality information so that policymakers and funders can make informed decisions to reduce emissions and protect public health in those areas. The Morrison & Foerster team is advising Aclima on corporate structure and impact strategies.
The Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice
Cooley is working with The Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, a non-profit organization led by human rights and environmental activist Catherine Flowers. The organization’s mission is to improve health conditions for people living in poverty in America by addressing wastewater management and related issues. Cooley has worked with the organization on new entity formation, general corporate and organizational matters, and to apply for a 501(c)(3) tax exemption.
Sustainable Ocean Alliance
Wilson Sonsini is working with Sustainable Ocean Alliance in its efforts to develop leaders, cultivate ideas, and accelerate solutions around the world to promote ocean health and sustainability. Through supporting Sustainable Ocean Alliance’s startup accelerator program, Ocean Solutions Accelerator, Wilson Sonsini helps prepare ocean entrepreneurs to market, scale, and raise capital for their sustainable innovations in the fields of clean energy, fisheries management, hydrocarbon and plastics extraction, upcycling and closed loop innovations, ocean data analytics, and even assisted evolution for corals.
Restore the Earth Foundation
Dedicated to regenerating essential forest and wetland ecosystems, Restore the Earth Foundation seeks to address the effects of climate change by restoring and protecting our natural resources. Latham & Watkins has been providing contractual advice as the nonprofit begins restoring one million acres of degraded land in the Mississippi River Basin known as “North America’s Amazon,” and compliance advice as it sequesters and trades carbon for proceeds that can be used to further its restoration efforts.