Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy 2023 Annual Report


This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy (LSE) initiative, and we are excited to continue to expand our work and impact. 20 firms in the initiative collectively provided over $26 million in pro bono on sustainability matters both inside and outside of the initiative in 2023—including over $2 million by Arnold & Porter and Orrick, over $6 million by Wilson Sonsini, and $7 million by Morrison & Foerster!

This fall we also launched Startup Law: Sustainability, an experiential education class at Stanford Law School supporting the Stanford founder community.  Students in Startup Law: Sustainability help to provide pro bono legal assistance and support to early-stage nonprofit and for-profit startups addressing climate, sustainability, and social impact challenges.  This has been a great complementary addition to LSE, as more complex matters are often forwarded to the LSE network.

Collectively, LSE and Startup Law: Sustainability vetted over 80 applicants and were able to provide pro bono legal help to nearly 50 sustainability-focused startups and nonprofits.  The firms in the LSE initiative worked on many interesting matters this year, including helping entities focused on sustainable aquaculture and agriculture, coral reef restoration, renewable energy production, green financing, and carbon capture technologies. See more details on the work below!

Finally, with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy initiative worked closely with attorneys in the initiative to offer webinars and direct pro bono services to startups and Tribal entities on how to take advantage of IRA incentives and accelerate renewable energy implementation. 

Inflation Reduction Act Educational Outreach and Direct Support

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is the most significant climate legislation in U.S. history, offering funding, programs, and incentives to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. Stanford’s Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy Initiative is facilitating educational opportunities and pro bono legal help for NGOs, community organizations, Tribes, and early stage entrepreneurs to access the benefits and funding from the Inflation Reduction Act.  

In 2023, Holland & Knight helped lead a webinar series for Tribal Nations focused on the opportunities presented by the Inflation Reduction Act. The three part webinar series focused on an overview of the tax incentives contained in the Inflation Reduction Act, a deep-dive into two critical tax credits – the Investment Tax Credit and the Production Tax Credit, and how Tribal Nations can monetize the benefits of these tax credits. Wilson Sonsini also led a webinar on Tax Opportunities for Early Stage Entrepreneurs in the Inflation Reduction Act. These webinars were well-attended, with each averaging over 100 participants. 

Learn More

2023 Pro Bono Project Highlights

Plastic waste in a river with the Taj Mahal in the background.

Removing Plastic Waste from Rivers

Wilson Sonsini offers pro bono legal support to Plastic Fischer, a German-based social enterprise dedicated to tackling plastic pollution by collecting plastic waste from rivers, primarily in India and Indonesia.
Vector illustration of clean energy concepts.

Scaling Energy Access in Nigeria

Foley Hoag LLP recently represented CrossBoundary Access in a $10 million partnership with Mobile Power to deploy MOPO Hubs across Nigeria, providing energy access to up to 300,000 people using an innovative battery delivery service.
Sustainable Event Production - eco-friendly paper/wood products.

Sustainable Event Production

Akin Gump supported a company that supplies sustainably produced products for outdoor venues and events to provide pro bono representation on trademark and other corporate matters.
Caledonian Forests near Achray in Scotland

Forest Conservation in the Scottish Highlands

Latham & Watkins advises Trees for Life, a conservation charity dedicated to rewilding the Scottish Highlands through the restoration of the Caledonian Forest, which supports wildlife found nowhere else in Britain.
Reducing GHG Emissions in the Food Industry

Reducing GHG Emissions in the Food Industry

Beveridge & Diamond represents Climate ReFarm in the development of a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction methodology focused on minimizing and reducing GHG emissions in the food industry.
Vector illustration - justice scales and green energy concepts.

Green Tech Legal Collaborative

The Green Tech Legal Collaborative program, created by Bloomberg, Imperial College, Ropes & Gray and Willkie Farr & Gallagher, stemmed from the founding members’ shared vision of supporting climate action and sustainability through a legal/compliance pro bono initiative.

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.
  • Staffing: Employment and volunteer agreements.
  • Advocacy: Research on laws in multiple jurisdictions.
  • IP and brand protection: Trademark registration, copyright, patents and licensing.
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Who's In the Initiative?


Major, private U.S. law firms


Corporate and non-profit partners


startups and nonprofits assisted in 2023

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 2023, though many exceeded their pledges for a total of over $26 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:

  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.

How it Works

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Step 1:

Fill out the form.

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Step 2:

Discuss legal request with Stanford Law School.

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Step 3:

Stanford Law School provides your project description and request to the firms in the Initiative.

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Step 4:

Stanford Law School will help to connect you with a firm.

Client Testimonials

"This program was fantastic and the help enabled me to get my climate start-up up and running. I can't overstate how wonderful it was to have a team of experienced lawyers available from the start. Hardware climate start-ups have more complex legal needs than traditional software startups - requiring licensing and IP management from day one. On top of that, raising capital can be more difficult than traditional startups, having a legal team with a variety of skills has been pivotal in getting from 0 to 1."

Catherine Berner
Founder, Last Loop Metals

"The Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy Initiative has been an invaluable resource. For an early stage start-up, where finances are limited, access to legal advice is a luxury that often seems out of reach. The pro-bono services provided by the law firm we worked with helped us ensure we are on the right track, while allowing us to maintain our focus on building our product and positively impacting the climate."

Daniel Cohen
Founder, UCharge

"We've been working closely with the team at Morrison Foerster, and it's been absolutely amazing. Their team is incredibly knowledgeable and have been instrumental to the growth of our company. Thank you so much for connecting us, without you we wouldn't be anywhere close to where we are - we may even have some tech deployed on the West Coast by the end of this year!"

Lance Adler
Founder, 899 LLC / Witching Hour

“We are incredibly thankful for the support of this program, it has been pivotal in helping support us with foundational contracts that were needed to execute our marine construction and restoration work.”

Shelby Thomas
CEO, Ocean Rescue Alliance

"Thank you so much! The lawyers from Arnold Porter were extremely helpful, unbelievably responsive and went above and beyond. "

Krish Mehta
CEO, Gremix

"This is an incredibly powerful program moving the needle for early climate startups."

Jackie Amable
CEO Cofounder, Matereal


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