We are thrilled to announce Professor Paul Watchman has joined us as Global Head of Climate Change and ESG Transition, a new position based in the United Kingdom.
Professor Paul Watchman is universally recognised as one of the world’s foremost Climate Change, ESG, Business and Human Rights and Sustainable Finance lawyers. He led the Freshfields team and was the principal author and project head of the UN report on fiduciary duties, known as The Freshfields Report, which provides the legal foundation for ESG investment, now worth USD$ trillions globally. He has had a long association with the United Nations and the Principles of Responsible Investment (UN PRI) and for almost 20 years has acted as Special Legal Counsel and Special Advisor to the United Nations Environment Programme Financial Initiative (UNEP FI).
Paul has advised a wide array of clients internationally, including global businesses and financial institutions, sovereign states, international and multinational organisations, NGOs, and other public and private bodies. He has also been highly influential in the development of policy, business and financial practice, legal norms and voluntary codes and standards. He makes important contributions to civil society and supports several charities and other worthy organisations.
Paul regularly lectures, has published articles in legal, financial, and business journals and other publications, and his pioneering work has been profiled in numerous publications including in The Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman, and The Law Society Gazette.
He has won many national and international awards for his ground-breaking work, and was named by Ethical Corporation with Hank Paulson, the former United States Secretary of the Treasury, as one of the six most influential figures in the world on the development of sustainable finance.
Ben McQuhae & Co is a law firm established in Hong Kong in 2021 uniquely committed to sustainability and innovation that provides legal support only to projects that make a positive impact through alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The firm has been described as the only true ESG law firm on the planet and is winner of the INSEAD Business as a Force for Good Award 2021. Core focus areas include sustainable finance, ESG regulations, energy, carbon markets & decarbonisation, supply chain and impact funds.
Global Head of Climate Change and ESG Transition is a new position based in the United Kingdom and Paul Watchman’s appointment represents the firm’s first expansion. It is a calculated move to build a uniquely multi-disciplinary strategic advisory firm to support more clients in more key markets, with the firm providing the link to legal and regulatory advice. The global imperative to transition to a more sustainable future and the increasingly global nature of ESG-related regulations and emerging trends means ESG skills are becoming as important as legal skills to our clients. In furtherance of our commitment to applying our skills as legal professionals to contribute to building a sustainable future, we hope to support a growing and increasingly underserved market with our unique law + ESG service.
Founding partner Ben McQuhae commented:
“Paul is the world’s pre-eminent ESG lawyer and his interest in joining us is the most powerful validation possible of our firm’s values and strategy. Paul’s incredible intellect, experience and energy will bring many new opportunities to our firm and services to our clients. Climate change and ESG transition will continue to profoundly impact every business in every economy, and we want to support and accelerate change. I have no doubt this will be a deeply rewarding journey for all of us and I look forward to seeing what we can build together.”
Professor Paul Watchman commented:
“ESG and Climate Change represent the most disruptive challenge to business, governments, and society since the creation of the Web. They are also a fundamental challenge to professional advisers, in particular law firms. To meet clients’ requirements and to recruit and retain staff, law firms will need to alter their DNA. This entails the abandonment of silo practices, the recruitment of non-legal experts and a focus on alignment with the values of their clients.
I have studied law firms and accountancy firms and their climate change and ESG practices globally for some years now in connection with our Dragon surveys and I have spoken to them about how they approach these critical issues. The only firm that I found worldwide which walked the talk and I was willing to join is Ben McQuhae & Co. Several law firms have some expertise in these areas but rarely in depth across the board. Ben McQuhae & Co offers such an advantage, and I am delighted to be taking this journey with Ben to build out the world’s first ESG law firm.
Ben McQuhae & Co has the attraction for me of being a new firm with sustainability already hard-wired into its DNA. We can focus on building the firm, taking only the best of the best in our core areas, and ensuring the very highest DEI standards, without having to change the direction of travel of the business or jump through countless management hoops to get started.
We intend to be a truly global and multi-disciplinary firm because ESG and Climate Change are global phenomena.”