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In 2022 uncertainty took hold as inflation, volatile markets and a geopolitical conflict added to the challenges set in motion by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a world of shifting expectations and norms, we focused on creating a distinctive experience for our clients, consistent with the five-year strategy we launched in 2020. This North Star guided our global teams as they developed and executed innovative solutions on high-stakes deals, disputes and pro bono matters.
Our client work placed us at the center of global trends related to energy transition, environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, finance and globalization. We contributed to the dialogue on these issues with published insights including “Scaling up the energy transition,” a report based on a survey that explores how capital providers and companies are setting priorities, staying competitive and managing risk. Through our COP27 video series, we explored themes raised during the annual climate conference and their potential impact on business and industry.
In regions around the world, we increased our capacity to serve clients, promoting 59 new partners and welcoming 39 lateral partners. We developed new ways of working with clients, increasing efficiencies and ensuring consistency. These initiatives included our Debt Finance Solutions Team, which leverages legal technology and other resources to handle certain types of routine work, and our Client Experience Blueprints, a series of tools that codify our global best practices for working with clients before, during and after a matter.
We continued to focus on building a more diverse and inclusive workplace, significantly expanding our diversity data collection efforts so we can quantify our progress. Our people benefited from new and expanded coaching programs, and we took concrete steps to empower our associates, focusing on work allocation, skills development and leadership opportunities.
This review discusses these and other accomplishments and initiatives that made a difference to our people and our clients in 2022. Together we face the future positioned for success.
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The focus on achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 remained a priority for governments, investors and energy companies
Addressing ESG factors became “the new normal” for investors and businesses
Activity across debt and M&A markets slowed as rising interest rates and high inflation saw investors, borrowers and lenders recalibrate risk appetite
Around the world, legal and regulatory developments continued to reshape global interconnectedness
Highlights of our work in 2022
US$2.83 billion in revenue
2,616 total lawyers
Meet the outstanding generation of talented lawyers who strengthened our Firm in 2022
In markets around the world, White & Case earned many of the legal industry’s top accolades
White & Case is committed to fair and ethical operations that respect human rights and recognize the importance of our natural environment.
As a signatory to the UN Global Compact, we affirm our commitment to doing business responsibly by supporting the Compact’s ten principles on human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. The steps we are taking to continue to embed these principles into our Firm are outlined in our most recent Communication on Progress.
Our latest Environmental Sustainability Report includes information on our environmental policies, footprint, key actions and goals.
11 global affinity networks
Our 11 affinity networks foster a sense of community among the Firm’s Black, Asian, Latinx/Hispanic, Middle Eastern, minority ethnic and LGBTQ+ lawyers, business services professionals and their allies. Each network sets its own agenda, initiatives and goals, which are specific to the issues it considers most important. Affinity networks create and enhance awareness of these groups within the Firm and its larger culture, drive community and connection across our global offices, and support their members with career and professional development opportunities.
25 local women’s networks
Our 25 local women’s networks are active in 40 offices across the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. These networks foster professional development and mentoring activities. They also provide a forum for our lawyers and business services professionals to share perspectives and create programs to support and retain our women while fostering and promoting gender equity.
49%of our lawyers self-identify as of color
28%of our partners self-identify as of color
43%of our lawyers self-identify as of color
27%of our partners self-identify as of color
Leading publications and alliance organizations continue to recognize our commitment to diversity and inclusion
Number 1 Most Diverse Law Firm among top 10 US firms by revenue
The American Lawyer Diversity Scorecard 2022 (Number 2 among all firms scored)
100% rating on commitment to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workplace equality (14th consecutive year)
Identifying the Firm as one of the best places to work for LGBT+ individuals
Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index
International Firm of the Year for Career Development, Diverse Women Lawyers, Work-Life Balance
Euromoney Legal Media Group Women in Business Awards 2022 EMEA
2022 Mansfield Certification Plus (fourth consecutive year)
Top 75 employer in the UK
Social Mobility Foundation Employer Index 2022
Using data to create change
Committing to growth opportunities for colleagues in wide-ranging roles
Recognizing the value of our lawyers as they start their careers
Focusing on consistent application of best practices
Leveraging technology to streamline routine work and enhance client service
Collaborating to effect change and build strong connections
After rising to prominence in 2021 on the strength of growing global concerns over climate change and social inequality, addressing environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors became “the new normal” for investors and businesses in 2022. With ESG considerations firmly embedded in mainstream markets, investors and regulators have demanded better reporting and compliance from businesses on their ESG performance.
Throughout 2022, White & Case assisted companies, investors and sovereigns with a variety of ESG issues, including green investing, ESG-linked debt compliance, reporting and new ESG regulation. Here are some key themes that our client work focused on during the year.
As the number of ESG-badged equity and debt products has grown, investors, companies and consumers have seen the proliferation of ESG metrics and benchmarks. This trend has driven calls for greater standardization, consistency and transparency regarding the real impact of ESG policies.
Meanwhile, governments and economic blocs—against the backdrop of their commitments under the Paris Agreement and subsequent agreements at international climate conferences COP26 and COP27—have incentives to encourage ESG integration through means that include voluntary and mandatory disclosure regimes.
In Europe, the European Commission advanced proposals for the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive that outline requirements for large businesses to conduct due diligence to identify and address adverse impacts on human rights and the environment; produce climate plans; and require directors to consider environmental and human rights impacts of business decisions. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), meanwhile, put out long-awaited proposals to require climate change disclosure in the annual reports and registration statements of public companies.
On the regulatory front, the SEC is developing “nutrition labels” that will require disclosures on how ESG funds are marketed and how ESG is built into investor decisions, with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) releasing guidance for the providers of sustainability-related financial products to prevent making misrepresentations in promotional material and regulatory filings.
The work of the SEC and ASIC in strengthening disclosures around the marketing of ESG-badged funds and products has formed part of a wider global regulatory drive to require private companies to disclose and prevent the impacts of their activities on the climate.
The urgency of climate change risk has increased awareness of the environmental aspects that drive the ESG agenda, but in 2022 the social elements of ESG policies became more prominent.
Human rights and social equity have come to the fore as a growing cohort of businesses have recognized that the well-being of their employees has become important to shareholders and clients, and that failing to uncover and remedy poor labor practices in supply chains can carry significant reputational and litigation risk.
A White & Case analysis of the ESG disclosure trends in SEC filings underscored how the S in ESG has gained increasing attention. According to the analysis, human capital management disclosures in proxy and Form 10-K filings increased by 30 percent on the previous year in 2022, with diversity and inclusion disclosures up 12 percent. Disclosures related to corporate culture, meanwhile, almost doubled, with social impact and community disclosures rising by more than a quarter.
Regulators have also zeroed in on social factors in ESG, putting forward proposals focused on human rights and labor practices. The European Commission, for example, advanced legislative proposals to ban the marketing of goods made using forced labor. The proposals could drive significant changes to supply chain due diligence and management.
While global market volatility became evident with year-on-year declines in 2022 deal volumes and values generally, green, social, sustainable and sustainability-linked bonds and loans represented ever-larger shares of the market in terms of volume and value during the same period. In addition, the focus on ESG factors has expanded beyond vanilla loans and bonds to more esoteric products such as sustainability-linked derivatives and green and social securitizations, which are on the rise.
Industry bodies continued to publish best practice standards and guidance on how to structure sustainable finance transactions. For example, the International Capital Market Association updated its registry of approximately 300 sector-specific key performance indicators. These and other recommendations aim to move the industry toward a level of consensus that could help sustainable finance transactions continue to scale up.
Photo by Andriy Onufriyenko © Getty Images
A digitally generated image of a futuristic sustainable cityscape