Investors, regulators, customers, and employees are consistently pushing companies to do more regarding their ESG priorities (especially climate change) and these new pressures are challenging legal departments across a wide range of sectors.

Our multidisciplinary team regularly counsels corporations, their boards and investors on a wide array of ESG issues, drawing on the collective experience of the firm’s corporate governance, SEC experience, environmental, finance, litigation, real estate, and labor practices.  We assist clients with planning for long-term value, minimizing the risk of ESG issues affecting their business, and navigating ESG problems should they arise. From developing innovative compliance programs to conducting complex, sensitive internal investigations, we help our clients manage ESG-related legal and regulatory challenges, mitigate risk, and resolve difficult disputes.

The Womble Bond Dickinson Difference: How We Can Help

  • Reviewing policies and procedures to not only ensure compliance, but also present the best possible path to reach your goals. 
  • Creating ESG systems and plans, analyze supply chains and set appropriate benchmarks.
  • Crafting go-to materials, including training programs, annual reports, regulatory filings, and public disclosures addressing key, evolving issues to help you navigate this space and avoid green washing.
  • Conducting risk assessments and due diligence on existing operations and proposed targets.
  • Raising needed capital and completing required financial reporting, with ESG goals in mind.
  • Meeting ESG standards for environmental, social and human rights goals. We help you set targets and then work with you to achieve them and can establish grievance mechanisms and address labor and employment/workplace issues.
  • Guiding you in preventing disputes and, should they become unavoidable, resolving them in the least damaging and costly manner possible. 

In the Boardroom Guidance

Womble Bond Dickinson advises clients and their top leaders in the full spectrum of ESG-related matters, such as:

Public Companies and Securities

Our Public Company Advisors Team helps clients identify and manage environmental and social risks associated with investments and business projects. We guide companies in ESG-related SEC reporting and financial disclosure requirements (including Regulation S-K), as well as voluntary disclosures that address ESG goals. Public companies also rely on Womble Bond Dickinson for guidance with investor communications.

Corporate Governance

We advise public and private companies and their boards on a wide range of corporate governance issues associated with the creation, execution, and reporting of ESG objectives and metrics.  Such ESG-related issues may include risk oversight, shareholder engagement/activism, fiduciary duties, board policies, and regulatory compliance and we work with our clients to develop best practices in managing these issues.

Energy

Our transatlantic Energy and Natural Resources team advises energy producers, utility companies, and consumers on ESG-related issues, including renewable/green energy matters.

Environmental Law

“Environmental” is a lynchpin of the ESG movement. We guide clients in environmental matters, both to comply with relevant regulations and to meet ESG targets. For example, we work with clients on Net Zero plans designed to reduce a company’s greenhouse gas emissions, as well as on other climate, environmental compliance and sustainability efforts. Our team regularly advises companies and their leaders on management of environmental risks, including in environmental and toxic tort litigation and on enforcement matters. 

Lending

We help borrowers and their lenders ensure that ESG goals are addressed in credit arrangements. We regularly conduct diligence for lenders and work with financial institutions (and borrowers) to ensure compliance with the Equator Principles and other industry standards designed to promote ESG goals in lending. 

Green Banking

We draw on decades of experience advising financial services clients to assist (typically non-profit) green banks with their transactional, regulatory and advisory needs.

Sustainable Finance and Impact Investing

Many companies are actively seeking to address systemic global issues using for-profit business methods. Womble Bond Dickinson has been a pioneer in serving the Impact Economy, providing a full range of legal services to these clients, including:

  • General corporate governance (resolutions, by-laws, policies, etc.) 
  • Corporate transactions (mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, etc.) 
  • International project finance 
  • Real estate transactions 
  • Venture capital financing 
  • Regulatory compliance 
  • Dispute resolution and 
  • Intellectual property protection.

Opportunity Zone Investments

Opportunity Zones are a compelling tool for investors, asset owners and asset managers to grow wealth while improving communities. Womble Bond Dickinson has been advising clients on Opportunity Zone issues since the beginning of the program, including providing economic development, tax, regulatory compliance, deal structuring, and financing guidance.

Labor and Employment

The human rights implications of hiring and employment practices are one of the most important and highly scrutinized aspects of ESG. We work with companies to craft and implement ethical hiring, employment and immigration policies and protocols, both in the U.S. and internationally. We craft employee handbooks and guidelines with ESG goals in mind. Finally, team members guide companies on executive compensation issues and on labor and employment disputes.

Supply Chain Management

We work with clients to ensure that their supply chain activities meet the company’s ESG-related legal obligations, including the ethical sourcing of products and materials. In addition, we help companies map and manage their supply chains for maximum efficiency. 

Crisis Management

Connectivity with customers and stakeholders is a hallmark of doing business in the Information Age, and this two-way communication is driving ESG adoption. However, the same communication channels can also quickly imperil a company’s reputation should something go wrong. Womble Bond Dickinson helps companies respond to a public crisis and effectively manage responses, including government investigations. We also help clients manage the risks to the organization’s reputation.

Litigation, Investigations, and Dispute Resolution

Womble Bond Dickinson’s service to ESG clients includes veteran litigation teams guiding clients in climate change litigation and otherwise in a full range of business disputes. We also advise companies in government investigations as well as internal audits and risk assessments. 

Representative Experience

  • Performed transactional due diligence to identify ESG risks and opportunities in acquisitions, divestitures, projects, ventures and financings.
  • Developed mitigation strategies to limit, isolate and eliminate ESG risks in M&A transactions.
  • Advised and supported clients with regard to compliance on a range of environmental regulations, including those related to climate change, air toxics, water and waste.
  • Advised upstream oil and gas companies on the development and implementation of ESG policies and practices.
  • Counseled clients on the use of ESG rating agencies.
  • Counseled public company clients on shareholder proposals relating to ESG matters.         
  • Counseled public company clients on institutional shareholder and proxy advisory firm guidance relating to ESG matters.
  • Counseled public company clients on the drafting of their sustainability and ESG reports.
  • Assisted clients with initial planning and preparation on implementing enterprise-wide ESG initiatives.
  • Held teach-ins for management and other decision makers to discuss ESG initiatives, including ESG goals and metrics.
  • Coordinated with third-party providers to set and define ESG metrics.

In addition to serving clients in the ESG arena, Womble Bond Dickinson’s own business practices reflect our commitment to these principles. For example, the firm has pledged to reach Net Zero carbon emissions in the U.S. by 2050 (the firm has made a separate, ambitious Net Zero pledge in the UK).