Home » The 2024 Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard 

The 2024 Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard 

by Madaline Dunn

The 2024 Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard, which grades law firms on their climate accountability, has been published by the Law Students for Climate Accountability.

It noted that while “powerful institutions” appear to be “waking up to the reality of climate change,” big law firms are not. 

The report shared that, from 2019-2023, Vault 100 firms:

  • Facilitated $2.89 trillion in fossil fuel transactions, 
  • Engaged in 518 instances of climate change-exacerbating representation, and 
  • Received $32.97 million in compensation for lobbying on behalf of fossil fuel interests.

Further, it found that the firms which were undertaking the most substantial climate change-exacerbating work have not slowed down their fossil fuels work even as they ramp up their renewable energy practices. 

Akin Gump was highlighted as receiving the most compensation for fossil fuel-related lobbying from 2018-2022 ($7.1 million), and in this year’s dataset spanning 2019-2023, received nearly one million dollars more in compensation ($7.9 million), while increasing its renewable energy industry lobbying by nearly 60 per cent.

There were 18 firms that were found to perform zero fossil fuels work in 2023, and the ‘A’ firms collectively increased their renewables transactional work by over 50 per cent in 2019–2023. 

On the litigation side, while it was found that there was a slight decrease in overall climate litigation from the 2018-2022 data collection period to the 2019-2023 period, the firms with the most fossil fuels litigation “have not slowed down.” 

Eight firms were found to be responsible for 40 per cent of all “climate change-exacerbating litigation” and, just three firms — Paul Weiss, Gibson Dunn, and Arnold & Porter — accounted for almost 20 per cent of total exacerbating representation.

Paul Weiss, last year’s “top offender” in the litigation category, was found to again top all other firms with the same number of fossil fuel representations as the prior period. 

The firm was found to have not undertaken any climate change-mitigating litigation in the same period.

The report also makes a number of recommendations for clients and law students alike. 

It noted that, when evaluating counsel firms, clients should assess whether their organisational values align with their own, and whether a firm’s practices and investments are sustainable into the future. 

Meanwhile, for students, the report outlined: “We recognize and acknowledge that choice is a privilege that we must wield responsibly and that education is an opportunity we can utilize powerfully. 
For the full report, head here.

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