Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Law Student Climate Change Activists Target Gibson Dunn Law Firm

Karen Sloan (, Law Student Climate Change Activists Target Gibson Dunn:

Gibson DunnLaw Students for Climate Accountability on Wednesday launched its #DoneWithDunn campaign, sending a letter to the firm denouncing its representation of clients in the fossil fuel industry and demanding that it adopt standards governing what cases and clients it will forgo.

“We call on Gibson Dunn to commit to a publicly available ethical standard that articulates its protocol for representation of the fossil fuel industry,” the letter reads. “Diversity programs, pro bono, and in-office sustainability are all welcome but are insufficient as long as Gibson Dunn continues to perpetrate immense harm through its work for paying clients. There must be a line that Gibson Dunn will not cross.”

Gibson Dunn is now the second major law firm to be targeted by law students concerned with the role the legal industry plays in climate change. In late 2019 and early 2020, law students at Harvard, Yale, New York University and several other law campuses staged protests at recruiting receptions held by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind & Wharton, demanding that the firm stop representing ExxonMobil in a series of climate change lawsuits. Hundreds of law students signed a pledge that they would not work for the firm as long as ExxonMobil remains on its client roster. (At the time, Paul Weiss chairman Brad Karp stood by the firm’s work for the oil and gas giant, saying it’s “committed to the principle that we represent our clients and safeguard the rule of law zealously and to the best of our abilities.”)

The #DropExxon campaign galvanized law students across the country and led to the formation of Law Students for Climate Accountability, which now boasts members from more than 50 law schools. That group made a splash in October, when it unveiled the first-ever Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard.

The scorecard assigned a letter grade to each Vault 100 firm based upon their litigation, transactional and lobbying work on behalf of fossil fuel companies between 2015 and 2019.

Gibson Dunn was among 26 firms that received an “F” grade, and had the second-highest amount of fossil fuel litigation work of all the firms the group evaluated, it said. Moreover, the firm’s own website says it advises “the world’s leading oil and gas exploration, development and production companies.” Gibson Dunn did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the letter Wednesday.

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