Latham & Watkins adds ESG leadership for the US from Vinson & Elkins and Davis Polk
US-based Sarah Fortt and Betty Huber to co-chair practice with London partner Paul Davies
Latham & Watkins has hired a duo from Davis Polk & Wardwell and Vinson & Elkins to lead its environmental, social and governance (ESG) practice in the US.
Sarah Fortt and Betty Huber, who are joining as partners, will co-chair the firm's ESG team alongside London partner Paul Davies. Fortt joins from Vinson & Elkins, where she headed its ESG efforts, while Huber joins from Davis Polk, where she co-led the firm’s ESG and environmental groups.
The duo will be members of the Latham’s capital markets and public company representation practice group within the corporate department and advise public and private companies, financial institutions, investment funds and their boards on a range of ESG matters.
Fortt will split her time between Latham’s newly opened Austin base and its Washington DC office, while Huber will be based in New York.
Commenting on the hires, Ian Schuman, chair of the firm’s capital markets and public company representation practice, said there were “perhaps no areas of the market with a greater need to intelligently and proactively address ESG issues than in the public company boardroom and in the context of major transactions”.
“We’re at the centre of these discussions with clients daily and we’re pleased to continue to invest in and extend our capabilities in this critical and growing area with the addition of these two fantastic partners,” he said.
Both Fortt and Huber specialise in advising companies and their boards on ESG-related corporate governance, disclosure obligations and regulatory requirements.
Latham said Fortt regularly works with boards on managing their approaches to governance, crisis management and preparedness, succession planning and board education with respect to ESG and corporate culture matters. She also has experience advising clients on a range of environmental and social risks, including those relating to corporate culture as well as climate change and human rights.
Huber, meanwhile, brings more than 25 years of experience advising on ESG matters in connection with hundreds of transactions. She specialises in areas including human rights, sustainable finance, ‘net zero’ commitments and targets, ESG reporting and shareholder activism, among others.
Huber spent almost 18 years at Davis Polk, including more than a decade as co-head of the firm’s environmental group and three years as co-head of its ESG team.
A number of international firms have set up ESG groups and hired ESG experts in the last year as the movement becomes increasingly important to their clients. Leading Italian firm BonelliErede announced last month it had formed a specialist ESG group out of its corporate governance team, while in November New York firm Debevoise & Plimpton hired sustainability expert Ulysses Smith as its first senior ESG adviser.
And in October fellow US firm Greenspoon Marder announced it had formed an affiliate specialising in ESG to advise public and private companies as well as investment firms on their ESG-related operations.