Stanford Law School and Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy Accelerate $19.5 Million Environmental Pro Bono Initiative with 12 Leading Law Firms and Corporate Partners

Microsoft and other corporate partners will support connections between firms and pro bono clients for Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy initiative

Representatives from LSE partner law firms announce the LSE initiative at the Global Climate Action Summit
Representatives from LSE partner law firms announce the LSE initiative at the Global Climate Action Summit

This past September, at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, nine major law firms announced the Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy (LSE) initiative, pledging millions of dollars in free legal services to support entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations that are pursuing environmentally sustainable solutions in energy, transportation, land use and other fields. The original nine founding law firms are: Arnold & Porter; Cooley; Dentons; Hogan Lovells; Holland & Knight; Latham & Watkins; Morrison & Foerster; WilmerHale; and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

Today, Stanford Law School (SLS) and Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy (Precourt) are announcing that three additional major law firms (Beveridge & Diamond, Nixon Peabody, and Orrick) have joined LSE, bringing the total amount of free legal services committed to this endeavor to $19.5 million through 2020. In addition, Microsoft has joined the initiative to facilitate connecting grantees of the company’s environmental initiative with LSE. Pro bono lawyers from other companies, including Goldman Sachs, have also volunteered to assist LSE firms.

SLS and Precourt are also announcing the launch of a new website that will enable potential clients to request pro bono help from LSE law firms as a supplement to community-based and law firm-based connections with potential clients. SLS law students will assist in the effort and put together periodic reports regarding representative matters that are being handled by lawyers from LSE firms.

“We applaud the work of Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy, which has connected entrepreneurs and community-based non-profits with the expert legal advice they need to advance climate and environmental justice efforts,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “While the threat of climate change is immense, we look optimistically forward as our efforts and partners grow. We will continue to harness the power of the public and private sector together, moving forward to build a brighter, cleaner, and more sustainable future.”

Since the initial announcement last September, SLS and Precourt have been working to incubate and expand the LSE initiative with the assistance of David J. Hayes, director of New York University’s State Energy & Environmental Impact Center and an early advisor of the initiative. All of the law firms involved in LSE are actively engaged in providing pro bono services on environmental sustainability matters. The new website highlights five pro bono projects that exemplify the type of cases that are being handled by LSE firms in areas ranging from ocean cleanup to forest conservation to clean drinking water solutions.

“Through their pledges and commitment, the members of the initiative will help make major advances toward environmental sustainability,” said Professor Barton “Buzz” Thompson, Jr., SLS advisor to the LSE initiative and a leading expert in environmental and natural resources law and policy. “Stanford Law School is pleased to be a part of LSE, which will give our students the wonderful opportunity to support LSE’s work while gaining insight into both the ways that the law can advance sustainability and the practical issues facing young, start-up collaborations.”

“We commend the law firms that are bringing pro bono legal resources to the table to work with innovators on some of the most important sustainability issues facing our country and the world,” said Professor Arun Majumdar, co-director of Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy.

The law firms will provide a range of legal services to clients, including on matters as diverse as incorporation, corporate governance, contracts, real estate, IP protection, privacy policies and terms of use, structuring advice for financing and investment, tax advice, and litigation.

“Tackling these tough issues today will create real and lasting impact in communities all over the world for generations to come,” said T. Clark Weymouth, Pro Bono Partner at Hogan Lovells.

Examples of Launched Sustainability Projects

Nixon Peabody Pro Bono Committee members meet with solar job trainees to teach about rooftop solar installation and community solar projects in Washington, D.C.
Nixon Peabody Pro Bono Committee members meet with solar job trainees to teach about rooftop solar installation and community solar projects in Washington, D.C.

As a part of its $2 million commitment, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is assisting Energy Peace Partners with their efforts to extend the renewable energy revolution to some of the most vulnerable populations on the planet through the development of Peace Renewable Energy Credit agreements and pilot projects. In the same vein, Morrison Foerster is working with The Carbon Endowment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by acquiring and retiring fossil fuel rights from ecologically significant landscapes, restoring lands and waters impacted by fossil fuel extraction, and supporting communities adversely affected by the clean energy transition.

Additionally, Latham & Watkins is providing pro bono legal support to The Samburu Project, a non-profit focused on providing easy access to clean, safe drinking water as a foundation for development to communities in Samburu, Kenya.  Orrick advised Blue Forest Conservation 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. Read more about other current LSE projects.

Corporate Involvement

In addition to support from law firms, the LSE initiative has also received support from Microsoft. Microsoft is connecting 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 LSE initiative.

Several public interest organizations will also assist the LSE initiative by helping potential clients connect with participating firms. Grist, a non-profit online environmental organization, has helped participating firms identify individuals and organizations working on sustainability solutions.

To learn more about joining the Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy initiative as a law firm or as a corporate partner, or if you are interested in pro bono legal help, please visit or contact

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education.  Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business, and high technology.  Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal scholarship and empirical analysis, and contribute regularly to the nation’s press as legal and policy experts. Stanford Law School has established a new model for legal education that provides rigorous interdisciplinary training, hands-on experience, global perspective, and focus on public service, spearheading a movement for change.

About Stanford Energy’s Precourt Institute

Through research and education, Stanford Energy sparks the creativity, collaboration, learning and leadership needed for the global energy transformation. Our aim is sustainable, affordable and secure energy for all. We seek out practical, real-world ways energy innovation can be brought to market through industry collaboration, educate students and bring together world leaders across government, industry, finance and technology to form the alliances needed to make that goal a reality.