Stanford’s Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy (LSE) Initiative continues to facilitate critical pro bono legal services to advance sustainable solutions. In 2022, the 17 private law firms in the initiative exceeded their 2022 environmental pro bono goals by over $10 million, providing over $27 million in legal services for sustainability matters sourced from within and outside of the initiative.
Since January 2022, the LSE initiative vetted nearly 60 applicants and “matched” nearly 40 sustainability-focused startups and nonprofits with pro bono legal help from law firms in the initiative. LSE is also working with Stanford Law School alums and additional corporate, intellectual property, and immigration attorney consultants to provide pro bono guidance to startups.
Some of the many startups and nonprofit organizations that benefitted from pro bono help through the LSE initiative this year include:
- Sustainable agriculture entities focused on environmentally-friendly pesticides and tackling fertilizer overuse;
- An eLearning platform focusing on climate-change reversing education;
- Nonprofits focused on combating biodiversity loss and environmental injustice in their communities;
- Crowdfunding platforms for direct investment in renewable energy projects; and
- Hard climate tech solutions to permanently store atmospheric CO2.
With increasing awareness about the ubiquity and toxicity of microplastics in our environment—and the role of polyester and other plastic-based fabrics in that pollution—the LSE also onboarded new companies tackling sustainability issues related to fabrics and fashion.
Read on below for more about the entities tackling climate and environmental issues, including highlights of some of the startup “success stories” which have received LSE pro bono help over the past few years.
2022 Pro Bono Project Highlights
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.
- Staffing: Employment and volunteer agreements.
- Advocacy: Research on laws in multiple jurisdictions.
- IP and brand protection: Trademark registration, copyright, patents and licensing.
LSE “Alumni” Success Stories
Many Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy “alumni” have been springboarded to success by the pro bono legal help they have received. Read more about the recent milestones and accomplishments in just a handful of these companies below!
Who's In the Initiative?
The firms offer pro bono legal assistance to entrepreneurs and non-profits taking on key sustainability challenges.
The firms committed to providing free legal services for on-going and new sustainability matters in the amounts below in 2022, though many exceeded their pledges for a total of over $27 million:
- Akin Gump ($250,000)
- Arnold & Porter* ($2 million)
- Beveridge & Diamond ($250,000)
- Cooley* ($1 million)
- Debevoise & Plimpton ($1 million)
- Fenwick ($250,000)
- Foley & Lardner ($250,000)
- Hogan Lovells* ($250,000)
- Holland & Knight* ($1 million)
- Latham & Watkins* ($1 million)
- Michelman & Robinson ($250,000)
- Morgan Lewis ($250,000)
- Morrison & Foerster* ($3 million)
- Nixon Peabody ($1 million)
- Orrick ($2 million)
- Ropes & Gray ($1 million)
- Seyfarth Shaw ($350,000)
- Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati* ($2 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 helped 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:
- 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;
- Encouraging outside law firms and other companies to participate in the LSE initiative; and
- Using their community outreach activities to identify potential clients who may qualify for, and benefit from, pro bono services provided through the LSE network.
How it Works
*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