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13 April 2021

HFW appoints sustainability partner to lead new ESG strategy

Aerospace practice head Giles Kavanagh is to lead the new strategy, which is aimed at both the firm and its clients

By Madeline Anderson

Image courtesy of HFW

HFW has unveiled a new environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) strategy led by the firm’s first sustainability partner Giles Kavanagh, becoming the latest firm to commit itself to an ESG-focused agenda.  

Kavanagh, who heads HFW’s global aerospace industry practice and sits on the firm’s management board, will work alongside senior management and a team of 20 “sustainability champions” across six of the firm’s global industry groups, including aerospace, construction, energy and resources, and shipping to drive the new strategy internally and with clients on a global basis.

“I am very proud to be appointed as HFW’s first sustainability partner,” Kavanagh said in a statement. “We seek to use our legal and sector expertise, networks and corporate responsibility initiatives to enable sustainable practices across all of our operations and the industries that we service and to drive meaningful and lasting change.”

According to the firm, the strategy encompasses a series of targets relating to advising clients on their own ESG goals, as well as ensuring a reduction in environmental impact in its physical locations and promoting diversity and inclusion throughout its workforce. Alongside these “core pillars”, the strategy also includes a newly-outlined initiative to measure and reduce the firm’s global carbon footprint.

Jeremy Shebson, managing partner at HFW, said sustainability is a “key” priority for the firm, adding that it has become “critical to the future success of our business.” 

“We approach sustainability in the broadest possible sense – covering social as well as environmental issues – and have deliberately focused on actions that we believe will be the most impactful that are also measurable,” he added.    

Kavanagh’s appointment and the announcement of the new strategy builds upon some of the firm’s recent internal ESG-related successes, including a sustainability-minded refurbishment of its London office that cut energy usage by more than half. The firm also reported a 35% reduction of its carbon footprint since 2015, earning a Planet Mark certification every year since 2016 for its efforts to reduce environmental harm. 

HFW also recently announced a new global gender equality strategy that aims to see women account for at least 40% of all senior lateral hires and internal promotions over the next three years joining law firms including Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters in committing itself to “ambitious” diversity and inclusion targets. 

In March, Dublin-based firm Matheson launched a dedicated ESG advisory group, laying claim to be one of the first Irish firms to establish a sustainability focused-team. 

San Francisco giant Orrick hired ESG expert Ashley Walter from Fenwick and West earlier this year in recognition of clients’ heightened sustainability focus, becoming one of the first US firms to hire a partner with a near-exclusive focus on giving ESG advice to clients. 

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