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Law Students Demand Climate Accountability From Law Firms

Yale Law students are calling on law firms to have climate accountability.

Last week, Yale Law students launched the Law Students for Climate Accountability (LS4CA) and released a scorecard that evaluates the top 100 law firms’ roles in the climate crisis, Yale Daily News reports.

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

FIRMS ASSIGNED A CLIMATE SCORE

In the 2020 Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard, students gave the top 100 most prestigious law firms in the country a climate score between A and F.

According to the data, 26 firms received a climate score of ‘F’ with 41 getting a ‘D,’ 15 receiving a ‘C,’ 14 receiving a ‘B,’ and only 4 firms receiving an ‘A.’

“This data really shows that the top law firms have chosen a side, and they’re placing themselves on the wrong side of history,” Tim Hirschel-Burns, LS4CA co-founder and class of 2022 Yale Law student, tells Yale Daily News. “While there certainly are differences among the top 100 firms, the firms that are getting F’s and D’s are not firms that should be able to come to law schools and pitch themselves as socially-responsible actors.”

According to Hirschel-Burns, LS4CA first came together during the protests back in February of law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLP’s ties to ExxonMobil.

DEMAND FOR CHANGE

In the scorecard report, students outline three main demands for law firms.

For one, law students are calling on firms to immediately reject taking on new fossil fuel clients.

Secondly, the students demand firms to phase out existing fossil fuel work by 2025.

Lastly, the group calls on firms to engage in positive work to address the global climate crisis.

“We are launching the Law Firm Climate Responsibility Pledge, that is inviting any firm out there –– whether it’s Vault 100 or otherwise –– to sign this pledge and commit to those three demands,” Hirschel-Burns tells Yale Daily News. “That’s our ask. Any firm that commits and pulls through will receive an A+ on future versions of the report.”

Sources: Yale Daily News, Law.com, Yale Daily News

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