Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy 2021 Annual Report

What We Do

Stanford’s Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy Initiative connects the world’s leading legal teams with NGOs and startups working to create environmental change. In 2021, 17 private law firms in the initiative provided over $20 million in pro bono legal services to support sustainability efforts. The groundbreaking work being done by pro bono clients and supported by the law firms is critical to combating climate change and sustaining conservation efforts globally. The projects tackled a wide range of climate and energy issues, including:

  • Designing new efficient heat pumps that help decarbonize heating and cooling;
  • Increasing energy efficiency in computing;
  • Working to replace jet fuel with biogas-derived liquid natural gas;
  • Designing more cost-effective and efficient wind turbine blades;
  • Accelerating the decarbonization of heavy-duty transport through the development of advanced hydrogen storage systems for use aboard trucks, ships, and planes;
  • Converting inactive oil and gas wells into energy storage; and
  • Creating a climate tech marketplace for local impact investing.

Other projects focused on sustainable land use and environmental justice, including setting up conservation easements to protect undeveloped land for habitat and developing closed-loop energy and water systems to support sustainable agriculture and reduce food insecurity in disadvantaged communities.

Pro Bono Project Highlights

Types of Legal Support

NGOs and startups can apply for free legal assistance in a variety of areas, including:

  • Structuring: Selecting the right legal entity for your NGO or startup.
  • Commercial Contracts and Funding: Partnership or funding agreements.
  • Staffing: Employment and volunteer agreements.
  • Advocacy: Research on laws in multiple jurisdictions.
  • IP and brand protection: Trademark registration, copyright, patents and licensing.

Looking Ahead

The Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy Initiative plans to grow its outreach efforts to sustainability-focused entrepreneurs and nonprofits, both at Stanford and beyond. We are also conducting long-term research to identify the most critical legal obstacles facing green startups, with an eye towards developing potential solutions.

Who's in the Initiative?

17


Major, private U.S. law firms

$20M


Provided in pro bono legal services in 2021

2


Corporate and non-profit partners

The firms offer pro bono legal assistance to entrepreneurs and non-profits taking on key sustainability challenges.

Law Firms

The firms committed to providing free legal services for on-going and new sustainability matters in the amounts below in 2021, though many exceeded their pledges for a total of over $20 million:

*Lead founder of the LSE Initiative

Corporate and NGO Partners

The private sector and NGOs like Grist are working with law firms to support connections between law firms and pro bono recipients. For example, Microsoft will help to connect grantees from its AI for Earth program – a five-year, $50 million initiative that supports and partners with environmental groups, academic researchers, and start-ups – with the initiative for legal support.  In-house counsel from additional companies, including MetLife, have also volunteered to provide pro bono assistance. 

Companies participating in the Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy are making a commitment to assist the initiative in a number of ways, including by:

  1. Enabling company in-house lawyers to provide pro bono assistance to clients directly, or in coordination with outside LSE-member law firms, on company time;
  2. Encouraging outside law firms and other companies to participate in the LSE initiative; and
  3. Using their community outreach activities to identify potential clients who may qualify for, and benefit from, pro bono services provided through the LSE network.

Client Testimonials

"I want to thank you for such a great program. Our experience with Terry at Arnold & Porter has been extremely positive so far and is a huge help. You should all be proud of the work you're doing. It's definitely having an impact."


James Kahn, Founder & Principal, SkyBaron

"I really wanted to follow up with you and thank you and Stanford's Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy initiative. Last year you connected me to Michelman & Robinson, and they were able to provide key support in setting up and establishing GreenPortfolio. Since then we have grown quite a bit - I now have a Cofounder, several contractors working for us and we participated in the Columbia IBM Launch Accelerator. We were even able to purchase a fancy .com URL!"


Bonnie Gurry, CEO of Green Portfolio

"The Orrick team was critical to not only closing the facility but doing so quickly and elegantly. Thank you to everyone at Orrick for making this happen! We have already drawn the first tranche of our facility, putting it to work on new orders."


Andi Kleissner, Co-CEO of Amped Innovation

"Thank you again for giving us access to the Stanford Lawyers for a Sustainability Economy program. During our technology licensing negotiations with National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Cooley's expertise was truly helpful for us. Also, being a Public Benefit Corporation feels really good for our mission."


Aaron Fitzgerald, CEO of Mars Materials

"Thank you again so much for the connection to Morrison & Foerster, they're great!"


Franz Hochstrasser, CEO and Co-Founder of Raise Green

"The Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy programme has been very helpful in connecting Aditu with much needed legal expertise from Ropes & Gray, and I’m very happy to have been provided with this access so far."


Mayowa Osibodu, Founder and Director of Aditu

Sponsors*

Premium Sponsors

Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy 2021 Annual Report 17

Partner Sponsors

Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy 2021 Annual Report 20

Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy 2021 Annual Report 15

Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy 2021 Annual Report 19

Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy 2021 Annual Report 1

Advocate Sponsors

Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy 2021 Annual Report 21

Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy 2021 Annual Report 23

Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy 2021 Annual Report 7

Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy 2021 Annual Report 14

Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy 2021 Annual Report 18

Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy 2021 Annual Report 2

Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy 2021 Annual Report

*Premium Sponsors are sponsors providing over $15,000, Partner Sponsors are sponsors providing over $7,500, and Advocate Sponsors are sponsors providing over $2,500

*Premium Sponsors are sponsors providing over $15,000, Partner Sponsors are sponsors providing over $7,500, and Advocate Sponsors are sponsors providing over $2,500