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Article

27 Oct 2020

Author:
Dana Drugmand, Desmog

Top Law Firms Called Out for Serving Fossil Fuel Industry Clients in New Climate 'Scorecard'

"Top Law Firms Called Out for Serving Fossil Fuel Industry Clients in New Climate 'Scorecard'", 1 October 2020.

With lawsuits against major fossil fuel producers over climate damages on the rise, a new report and initiative examines how prestigious law firms are enabling climate breakdown. The student-led initiative, Law Students for Climate Accountability, calls for holding the legal industry accountable for profiting from work defending and lobbying for fossil fuel clients as the world faces what scientists say is a climate emergency. This campaign is emerging as industries ranging from finance to insurance are facing greater scrutiny in a rapidly warming world.

“Law firms write the contracts for fossil fuel projects, lobby to weaken environmental regulations, and help fossil fuel companies evade accountability in court. Our research is the first to expose the broad extent of firms’ role in driving the climate crisis,” Alisa White, a student at Yale Law School and a lead author on the report, said in a press release...

Overall, per this scorecard, only four firms received an “A” grade while 41 firms scored a “D,” and 26 received an “F.”

The report summary calls out several of the firms graded “F.” The firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, for example, which represents ExxonMobil in climate liability lawsuits, “worked on as many cases exacerbating climate change as 62 other Vault 100 firms combined,” the report states.

Last winter Paul, Weiss faced protests from law students at Harvard, Yale, New York University, and the University of Michigan during recruitment events, with the students calling on the firm to drop Exxon as a client....

These protests and the new Law Students for Climate Accountability initiative indicate that legal firms that refuse to drop major fossil fuel clients may start to face recruitment challenges. Young people are increasingly engaging in climate activism and leading the demands for change across all segments of society, including now in the legal field...

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