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Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy

A Law-firm Led Effort to Provide Pro Bono Legal Services to Sustainability-Focused Entrepreneurs

On September 14, 2018, nine private, U.S. law firms committed to deliver free legal services worth $15 million by the end of 2020 to advance sustainability in energy, transportation and land use. As part of this firm-led effort, Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy, the firms offer pro bono legal assistance to U.S.-based entrepreneurs and non-profits taking on key sustainability challenges.

Stanford Engineering Quad

The lead founding firms of Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy are: Arnold & Porter; Cooley; Dentons; Holland & Knight; Latham & Watkins; Morrison & Foerster; and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. As lead founders, each firm has committed to provide legal services worth at least $2 million by the end of 2020. Two additional founding firms – Hogan Lovells and WilmerHale – has committed to provide at least $500,000 in free legal services by the end of 2020.

Supporting the effort, Stanford Law School and Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy, which helped incubate the Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy effort, will facilitate connections between participating firms and potential pro bono clients, and track the effort’s impact.

Stanford University will not provide legal services or representation. Additionally, entrepreneurs are welcome to reach out directly to the participating firms. This web page is simply a tool to streamline and facilitate connectivity between the participating firms and potential pro bono clients. 

Note: Each law firm’s voluntary commitment will be implemented in a manner consistent with each firm’s own pro bono and conflicts rules and policies.

Please use the Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy form to seek free legal services from these firms. Do not submit any confidential information in this form, by email, or otherwise. You will only become a client upon entering into an engagement agreement with one of the participating law firms, after which confidential information may be exchanged with that firm.

Potential Eligibility

Although entrepreneurial efforts to advance sustainability are surging within the United States, such efforts often may be stymied or slowed by resource constraints. Provision of legal services – even around first-order matters associated with formation and incorporation – can present hurdles for entrepreneurs. Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy provides an easier way for entrepreneurs to find firms with pro bono programs ready to consider them as a new client for free legal services.

Benches outside Stanford Law School

The types of legal services that firms participating in Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy may be able to provide include: support with incorporation, corporate governance (e.g., bylaws, policies), contracts, real estate, IP protection, website-related issues (e.g., privacy policies, terms of use), structuring advice for financing and investment, tax advice, and litigation.

Commitments made by firms participating in Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy represent voluntary value-of-services goals; each commitment will be implemented in a manner consistent with each firm’s own pro bono and conflicts rules and policies as well as each firm’s own assessment of any relevant regulations.

The types of entities with the potential to qualify for support by the Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy include:

  • Nonprofit organization directly serving the needs of marginalized, disenfranchised, or disadvantaged groups in a way that advances a sustainable economy (e.g., a nonprofit developing community solar projects to bring clean energy to residents of public housing);
  • Nonprofit organization directly securing or protecting civil rights, civil liberties, or public rights, which include environmental and public health matters (e.g., a nonprofit advocating for increased public investment in energy efficiency as a way to improve the environment or public health);
  • Other nonprofit involved in grantmaking or education efforts related to advancement of a more sustainable economy;
  • Newly-formed for-profit entities focused on advancing a sustainably economy and begun by low-income entrepreneurs who, as individuals, are income-eligible for pro bono legal services; or
  • Mission-aligned for-profit entities that are formed and operate primarily to advance a sustainable economy and, where
    • The business venture has as its primary mission and purpose the enhancement of the economic, health, or social condition of low-income and disadvantaged people and groups or of the environment;
    • The revenues from the business venture, if any, are used directly to support this mission;
    • The business venture does not have sufficient operating funds to pay for legal and other professional services without sacrificing its mission; and
    • The pro bono relationship is time-limited, to last only until the business can pay for counsel without sacrificing its mission.