Freshfields hires leading environmental consultant to head client sustainability offering

Jake Reynolds joins from Cambridge University’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership
A picture of Jake Reynolds standing next to some foliage

Jake Reynolds is leaving academia for Freshfields

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has hired environmental consultant Jake Reynolds from the University of Cambridge as its new head of client sustainability and environment.

Reynolds, who was executive director at the university’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership, will be responsible for driving the magic circle firm’s global sustainability client offering across five key areas – energy transition, human rights, corporate governance, climate change and sustainable finance. He will also lead the firm’s own sustainability initiatives to reduce its environmental impact and to cut carbon emissions.

Tim Wilkins, Freshfields’ global partner for client sustainability, said the hiring of Reynolds was “a unique opportunity for us to complement our legal services with his extensive experience in academia and consultancy at the forefront of a wide-range of sustainability topics.”

Wilkins added: “By bringing together this know-how, we can provide our clients with the best possible advice on their vital transitions to sustainability in a pressured and fast-changing world. We believe that collaboration within and across disciplines and industries is vital to making this happen.”

Reynolds spent more than 11 years at the Institute for Sustainability Leadership, following more than six years in government as head of wellbeing at the Sustainable Development Commission. He also had an earlier spell at Cambridge University as deputy director of its programme for sustainability leadership, as well as consultancy work advising the UN on environmental issues.

He said: “I’ve watched business interest in sustainability grow from ad hoc CSR in the 1990s to the central role it plays in boardroom discussions now. Every part of the economy is embracing change, from public policy and business to private capital and law.”

Last year, Freshfields published new environmental targets to reduce operational and business travel emissions, as well as to minimise paper consumption and phase out single-use plastics. It has also committed to the Science Based Targets Initiative, with its targets expected to be validated before the end of this year.

Last month a group of 150 UK and international lawyers called on law firms and in-house counsel to be ethically obliged to advise clients when deals they are working on are at odds with the UN’s climate change targets. Failure to properly advise clients on climate risk could leave them and their clients exposed to potential legal issues, the lawyers warned in an open letter to the legal profession.

Back in August, a survey from Hogan Lovells also found that multinational companies are struggling to integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk into their compliance programmes.

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