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27 October 2020

Top luxury law adviser becomes Baker McKenzie's first chief sustainability officer

Paris-based Alyssa Auberger to lead sustainability drive as independent report highlights ESG opportunities for law firms

By John Malpas

Alyssa Auberger

Alyssa Auberger

Baker McKenzie has appointed one of its senior partners to become its first chief sustainability officer.

Paris-based Alyssa Auberger will be responsible for leading the firm’s sustainability strategy and assumes the role having headed up the firm’s global consumer goods and retail industry group since 2016. 

Her appointment coincides with the publication of a report by Jomati Consultants which argues that law firms are well positioned to play a key role promoting the ESG (environmental, social and governance) agenda thereby building new lines of work for their clients.

In her new role, Auberger will draw on her legal experience advising clients in a sector that is particularly exposed to the reputational risks associated with operating global supply chains.

The leading adviser to the luxury sector, who specialises in M&A and private equity transactions, has advised clients on supply chain transparency and claims, product lifecycle issues, and human rights and emissions reporting.

“Our clients are at differing stages of their sustainability journeys and we want to do all we can to help them achieve their ESG goals given our own depth of experience,” she said.

Chair Milton Cheng added that she was a “passionate lawyer, partner and leader” who “understands our firm, our practices and our clients”.

Like many international firms, Bakers has stepped up its ESG initiatives in recent years. Last month, Cheng was among a number of law firm leaders to endorse a United Nations statement on co-operation in support of sustainable development goals to commemorate the UN’s 75th birthday.

In June, it set up a task force to improve racial and ethnic diversity across the firm’s 77 offices while last year it became one of the first law firms to commit itself to achieving gender diversity targets.

In its report Reimagining Your Business in a Post Covid-19 World: Rebuild Better, Jomati suggests many law firms are already helping clients achieve ESG goals through regular advice in areas including health and safety, discrimination and governance.

“This means that many lawyers are already helping their clients to achieve their ESG objectives, simply by doing their job,” said principal Tony Williams. “That’s helpful to know – especially if your client sends your firm an RFP, asking you to set out how your practice is engaging with the ESG concept.”

Last December, Ashurst appointed Hong Kong-based Anna-Marie Slot, head of the firm’s high-yield practice, as its first global sustainability partner.

The virtual Luxury Law Summit Americas takes place on 3 December. Speakers include Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic, The New York Times, Louise Firestone, general counsel, LVMH, Rachel Waranch, managing counsel, Chanel, and Steve Lamar, executive vice president, American Apparel and Footwear Association. Click here to read the programme.

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