Climate and Sustainability Risks and Opportunities

Our Practice

Despite the often charged discourse surrounding ESG (Environmental Social Governance) policies and initiatives, lawmakers, regulators, businesses, consumers, and many in the public are highly focused on climate and sustainability concerns. 

In the United States, the federal government and many states have enacted a variety of laws, rules, and regulations, which create climate- and sustainability-related risks and disclosure requirements. For enterprises conducting interstate and international business, there are myriad overlapping and sometimes conflicting regulations and rules regarding these concerns. In addition, non-governmental entities, industry groups, and consumer groups also frequently participate in this space – sometimes celebrating and credentialling enterprises and sometimes criticizing and pursuing action against them. 

Snell & Wilmer’s cross-disciplinary team of attorneys follow these developments in real-time, spots trends, and can advise businesses on specific requirements and risk mitigation strategies impacting climate and sustainability concerns. We help guide clients through multiple levels of risk considerations such as economic risks, regulatory and liability risks, operational risks, vendor and supply chain risks, competition and sales risks, labor and employment risks, marketing and branding risks, and reputation and credibility risks. In certain circumstances, there may also be criminal liability risk exposure. 

Further, opportunities abound in this fast-paced, cutting-edge space. Entities that take action to lead the pack can potentially gain reputation, market share, and strong economic returns. New processes, methodologies, and ways of doing business are implemented daily. Whether your entity is out in front setting new standards, or a close industry follower, there are numerous opportunities. Our team can assist entities navigate those opportunities to help maximize the likelihood of a successful execution and mitigate downside risks.

Our attorneys can also help issue spot opportunities for further advancement, such as assessing operations controls, assessing how sustainability reporting ties back to a business, financial and marketing data, public statements, assessing entities’ ESG climate and sustainability employee engagement, whistleblower protocols, analyzing board governance and expertise opportunities, as well as a variety of other potential considerations that impact climate-related and sustainability risks.  

Areas of Service 

While climate and sustainability standards, protocols, and issues continue to evolve, so do our firm’s practices and areas of focus. Some of the areas in which our attorneys serve clients include: 

Greenwashing & Brandwashing Risks & Litigation: Today’s environment is fraught with risk and may expose businesses to greenwashing and brandwashing claims and litigation. Our attorneys help clients with periodic and on-going assessment and review of marketing and advertising materials, labeling and product benefits statements, and endorsements statement. We also help entities consider operations activity, data and reporting including trend information, supply chain, and vendor considerations. In addition to traditional false advertising laws, challengers are leveraging putative class actions, FTC Act, and state law unfair and deceptive trade practices acts, social media and boycott campaigns, among other tools to seek redress for claimed harms. Snell & Wilmer litigators are prepared to aggressively defend clients as these complicated claims arise. 

Governmental & Regulatory Enforcement Risks: Led by former high-ranking Department of Justice attorneys, our attorneys regularly conduct internal investigations and represent companies in a wide variety of matters relating to federal and state criminal, civil and regulatory enforcement. We are well-positioned to help clients navigate through the most difficult challenges relating to government enforcement, including antitrust; customs and export controls; environmental regulation; False Claims Act/ qui tam/ whistleblower actions; financial institution regulation; Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; illegal gifts and bribery; government procurement; securities regulation; and federal and state taxation. 

State Law Compliance Risks & Opportunities: Given the firm’s strong geographic footprint, we are knowledgeable and up-to-date on our various state’s (and many others’) compliance measures and can advise clients on how to maneuver them as they work toward climate and sustainability goals. Our team can assist in a variety of matters including state compliance assessments, state permitting, enforcement defense and litigation support, leveraging state renewable energy and clean technology incentives, among others. 

Renewable Energy Risks & Opportunities:  Snell & Wilmer's renewable energy lawyers have extensive experience in renewable energy transactions. We are committed to being a leader in providing legal services to the renewable energy and clean technology industry, and to being at the forefront of many of the developments emerging from the renewable energy sector. We assist with project finance, project development and infrastructure, regulatory matters and legislative support, venture capital, private equity, and M&A, intellectual property, and tax matters. 

Green Finance Risks & Opportunities: With the growing trend of leveraging financial investments in the climate and substantiality space, our attorneys’ deep knowledge can help clients make sound business decisions and execute green-related transactions. Snell & Wilmer's commercial finance practice is recognized as one of the premier lending practices in the western United States: 20 of the nation's top 25 institutional lenders rely on our commercial finance attorneys to manage their most important customers and transactions. Our attorneys offer a comprehensive range of commercial finance services, including transaction structuring advice, document production, due diligence assistance, transaction facilitation, project management services, bond issuances, and post-closing services. We also have extensive experience with fund formations, investment management, and opportunity zone incentives. 

Employment & Employee Risk Issues & Opportunities: Given the very strong human aspect in climate and sustainability efforts, it is crucial that entities have sound employee policies and procedures in place. Snell & Wilmer's employment and labor attorneys assist clients through all phases of employment and labor-related counseling and litigation. We routinely provide management training in the areas of sexual harassment, workplace diversity, employee retention, hiring practices, wrongful discharge, internal investigations, and numerous other areas intended to educate and motivate supervisory personnel in the proper handling of workplace issues. We also regularly advise clients on non-competition, non-solicitation and confidentiality issues designed to protect their significant investments in people, territories, and proprietary information. 

Clients We Serve 

Our attorneys are called upon by a vast range of clients across multiple industries seeking assistance for their climate and sustainability matters.

Why Clients Select Us

Connected and Recognized: Our lawyers leverage the resources of a large firm to address the complex and often time-sensitive issues that arise in matters of this type. Deep and longstanding relationships with government entities and officials give our attorneys a level of credibility and respect with decision-makers that can make a difference when it matters most. The outstanding reputations that our attorneys enjoy with government decision-makers gives our work product unparalleled credibility when it comes to regulatory and charging decisions.

Comprehensive Service: Our firm's numerous practice groups work together to provide interdisciplinary representation to our clients and our attorneys have a diverse array of practice focuses applicable to helping clients mitigate risks and gain opportunities in the climate and sustainability space. Additionally, our network of offices and professionals are ideally located in many of the areas experiencing the strongest shifts towards climate and sustainability standards.