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Lucky Number 7: The Law Firms Topping the ESG Charts



What do Clifford Chance, DLA Piper, Linklaters, Baker McKenzie, DWF, Burges Salmon and Freshfields all have in common?


There are many answers to this question - and one might also find as many answers as to where they differ!


Certainly, all 7 firms share key attributes: large, global, well-respected law-firms that are often considered among the world’s legal elite.


But the thing we at impactvise consider the most important commonality?


They “walk the ESG talk.”


Using a proprietary methodology featuring criteria tailored specifically to the legal sector, impactvise has assessed almost 1000 law firms, big and small, across 6 continents (no lawyers in Antartica… yet) to find the world’s top legal service providers with respect to their firm’s sustainability and ESG maturity.


To be clear, impactvise did not assess the quality of the ESG legal advice provided by the law firms, but rather the ESG performance of the law firms, including key stakeholder capitalism metrics (Pillar 1: ESG Metrics); a firm’s commitment to, and transparency of, its sustainability reporting (Pillar 2: Transparency); and the law firm’s impact, as measured by the external impact made by the firm through their pro bono, skills, products and services, thought leadership publications and events, and averaged across the number of lawyers at a reviewed company (Pillar 3: Impact).




And Clifford Chance, DLA Piper, Linklaters, Baker McKenzie, DWF, Burges Salmon and Freshfields scored the highest.


The data reveals that these top 7 performers share similar scores for Pillars 2 (Transparency) and 3 (Impact), factors partly attributable to the large size of the firms (average headcount/lawyers per firm: >2000) and the fact that most are headquartered in the UK.


However, despite these 7 firms leading a list of 1000, there are still a few areas where results differed significantly within Pillar 1: ESG Metrics - for example, Clifford Chance, the top performing firm, scores 94/100, while Freshfields, the 7th top performing firm, scores 55. Clearly, this is still quite a gap - and this represents the top 1 percentile!


Over the next few weeks, we'll be sharing additional insight into our findings from this round of rankings - what we're calling our Mid-Year 2022 Performance Review. Notably, we outline where these top 7 firms are either exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, or where there lies the most room for improvement - and what next steps we think forward-looking law firms, regardless of rankings, are best placed to take.