2021 Annual Review

2021
Annual Review

What's inside

Highlights of our work, insights and achievements in a changing world

A message from our Chair

Hugh Verrier

Hugh Verrier
Chair

In 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect nearly every aspect of our lives. Against this backdrop, our global teams worked on groundbreaking transactions, resolved high-stakes disputes and, through our global citizenship initiatives, responded to societal challenges around the world.

The role of business in society evolved as environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues entered the mainstream, concentrating on challenges including the energy transition and achieving greater diversity and inclusion. Like our clients, we looked for ways to create long term value and growth—a shared goal that created opportunities for collaboration.

It was in this context that we launched a new five-year strategy, focused on creating a distinctive experience for our clients.

Our emphasis on complex, cross-border matters helped us grow in all of the regions where we work and achieve outstanding results for our clients. As we look to the next five years, we are committed to building the capabilities our clients need, supported by a strong, resilient culture.


Hugh Verrier, Chair

Conversations

Guest speakers at Firm events talk about issues that made news in 2021

What have we learned from COVID-19?

Epidemiologist Syra Madad says it’s critical to engage with local communities

Bright, colorful electric lights inside empty COVID-19 vaccine containers shine beside more empty containers, which are stacked to resemble a Christmas tree
Andreea Alexandru © Associated Press

Institutional investors take the long view on sustainability

Think tank CEO Chris Pinney is encouraged by moves to focus on impact, not just policies and procedures

Hills, covered with vegetation, stretch toward the horizon, where clouds and sky are visible. At the center of the image, a winding road cuts through the hills heading in the direction of the horizon.
Sholikhul Bakhmid © Getty Images

In the wake of the pandemic, the world must chart a new course

Bill Emmott, who co-leads a nonprofit that studies the far-reaching effects of COVID-19, discusses the importance of business scenario planning

A person takes a daytime walk across a bridge that crosses the Seine River in Paris. The surface of the bridge features a large, vividly colored world map against a dark background. Another person on the bridge stands beside a bicycle.
Keith Ladzinski © Bespoke Reps Licensing

A range of tactics is needed to achieve a lower-carbon world

Countries and companies are increasingly committing to net-zero goals that would require them to significantly reduce carbon emissions on relatively short timelines 

Two electrical engineers wearing protective gear stand between the blades at the top of a wind turbine in Thailand. Far below them, the land is densely forested. Another wind turbine sits in the distance and mountains are on the horizon.
Tunvarat Pruksachat © Getty Images

Environmental, social and governance factors enter the mainstream

The pandemic accelerated global concerns over climate change and inequality, pushing societal expectations around responsible business practices into the spotlight

An aerial view of a mostly empty eight-lane highway in Beijing. A median divides the highway. One vehicle travels in one direction, and two travel in the other. Groves of trees surround the highway.
Liyao Xie / Moment © Getty Images

Buoyant capital markets help fuel dealmaking

Most of 2021 was characterized by free-flowing capital, as government aid in response to COVID-19 propped up economies

An arrow points to the right against a background of different colored dots.
Simon Carter © Getty Images

Policy shifts may signal a new chapter in the story of globalization

Globalization may be evolving, as nations and regions reassert their regulatory powers on a wide range of issues

A person, with their back to the camera, sits at a desk in front of two computer monitors. The monitor on the right shows a world map that uses bright color to represent demographics, infrastructure, borders and resources. Similarly colored graphs are partially visible on the monitor to the left.
Andrey Popov © Getty Images / Map by Parag Khanna, FutureMap

Impact

Matters in eight practice areas that highlight our global impact for clients

Firm growth

Our 2021 achievements cap an outstanding five-year success story

Our growth trajectory

Growth trajectory
20% 2021 growth
59% 2016-2021 growth

Our lawyers worldwide

2,464 Total lawyers


1,233 EMEA
974 Americas
257 Asia-Pacific

1,283 US-qualified lawyers
544 English-qualified lawyers

 

2021 new partners

An outstanding roster of talented lawyers strengthened our Firm in 2021

An aerial view shows rows of different varieties of lettuce planted in the ground. The lettuce varieties are different colors, and form horizontal stripes.
© Veronika K Ko Photography

2021 awards & rankings

White & Case earned many of the legal industry’s top accolades for outstanding performance in 2021 

Four large metal spheres, each bisected by a strip of light, sit on the boardwalk along the harbor in Wellington, New Zealand. Water and the skyline are behind them.
Westend61 © Getty Images

Our responsible business practices

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.  

Renewable energy is approximately 35% of our electricity usage (up from 11% in 2018)
We track our greenhouse gas emissions annually
Each office implements actions set out in our Environmental Management System
Our London office maintains ISO 14001 certification

Diversity and inclusion

Where White & Case is a longtime leader — and we're just getting started.

Our diverse workplace

10 global affinity networks

Our ten global affinity networks foster a sense of community among the Firm’s Black, Asian, Latinx/Hispanic, Middle Eastern, minority ethnic and LGBT+ lawyers, business services professionals and their allies. Each network sets its own agenda, initiatives and goals, which are specific to the issues it feels are most important. Affinity networks also 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.

26 local women’s networks

Our 26 local women’s networks are active in 40 offices across the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. These networks foster professional development and mentoring activities, and support business-related client partnerships. They also provide a forum for our lawyers and business services professionals to share perspectives and create programs to support and retain our talent while fostering and promoting gender equity.

 

Diversity: The numbers

Women make up:
40% of the Firm’s global management
25% of the Executive Committee
26% of our Office Executive Partners

31% of our 2021 global partner promotions
22% of global partnership
41% of our lawyers

In the US:
38% of our lawyers self-identify as of color
25% of our partners self-identify as of color

Globally:
114 nationalities
91 languages spoken

Recognition

For more than a decade, leading publications and alliance organizations have recognized White & Case’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

#1 Most Diverse Law Firm in Am Law 50 (eighth consecutive year)

The American Lawyer
Diversity Scorecard 2021

100% rating on commitment to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workplace equality (13th consecutive year)

Identifying the Firm as one of the best places to work for LGBT+ individuals

Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index

Minority Women Lawyers – International Firm of the Year

Work-life balance – International Firm of the Year

Euromoney Legal Media Group
Women in Business Law Awards (Europe 2021)

2021 Mansfield Rule Certification Plus (third consecutive year)

Diversity Lab

Top 75 employer in the UK

Social Mobility Foundation
2020 Employer Index Report

Anti-racism training equips our people with tools to build a more inclusive firm

We continued to advance toward our diversity and inclusion goals, narrowing the gap between thought and action with new trainings

A closeup shows several floors of the exterior of a building in Paris, with offices inside. Outside, abstract reflections are visible in the building’s glass facade.
Esch Collection © Getty Images

Collaborating with clients around the world


 

World map
6 continents
45 offices
31 countries
In 2021, we advised clients from 
115
countries 
on matters in 
196
countries

 

White & Case connects clients to help build a more sustainable world

Like our clients, we are seeking ways to sustainably create long-term value and growth, a shared goal that presents opportunities to collaborate 

A closeup shows architectural details of a ceiling in Shanghai. It appears as if three-dimensional columns of blocks hang from the ceiling and reflect light.
Keith Ladzinksi © Bespoke Reps

New Firm strategy spotlights the client experience

We set out to ensure we provide our clients with an experience that emphasizes the attributes they seek in a trusted advisor

Triangular panels of glass create a wall. Light shows through some of the panels, making them appear brighter. Through a panel at the center, bright colors form an abstract pattern.
Keith Ladzinksi © Bespoke Reps
Two electrical engineers wearing protective gear stand between the blades at the top of a wind turbine in Thailand. Far below them, the land is densely forested. Another wind turbine sits in the distance and mountains are on the horizon.

A range of tactics is needed to achieve a lower-carbon world

Insight

6 min read

Countries and companies are increasingly committing to net-zero goals that would require them to significantly reduce carbon emissions on relatively short timelines. The transition to a lower-carbon world won’t be easy, given global economies’ dependence on access to carbon-intensive energy, materials and products. Innovation will continue to accelerate progress, but success will depend on stakeholders’ ability to embrace a variety of approaches, many of which are new and rapidly evolving.

We worked with companies across sectors that are at different points in their energy transition journey. Below we highlight some areas we focused on in 2021. 

Renewables accelerate

Technological advances continued to drive prices down for critical applications, such as solar and wind generation. But 2021 also witnessed important developments in areas that will enable deployment of renewables. 

In the US, the Build Back Better Act contained numerous incentives for the renewable energy industry, including expanded tax credits for a range of renewables and funding for the national buildout of electric charging stations to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles. The Biden administration also rolled out reforms that open US waters along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to offshore wind, and many non-US companies with offshore experience are already helping to accelerate offshore development in the US. Similar initiatives are underway in regions around the world.

As adoption gathers speed, renewables projects are growing in size and complexity. In 2021, financing closed on what will be the largest single-site solar project in the world, in Abu Dhabi. And demand for electrification will continue to rise, as companies embrace cleaner tech. 

Managing the flow of power from the growing number of nontraditional, intermittent and distributed sources requires development of new infrastructure, such as microgrids and battery storage facilities, that raise novel construction and contracting challenges.

Ultimately, success will call for a continuing focus on the cutting edge. Looking to the future of renewables, policymakers and regulators around the world are creating incentives for the development of hydrogen power, which could revolutionize fuel-intensive sectors such as heavy industry and transportation. 

And though batteries will enable energy transition, mining the minerals used in their production carries environmental costs, which mining development projects must consider. Stakeholders must ensure battery materials are recycled, reused and repurposed, and not discarded in ways that exacerbate the problems batteries would help to solve.

Traditional energy sources adapt

Traditional fuels remain critical in keeping the economy running, even as renewables proliferate. Natural gas is particularly important because it’s relatively clean, which is why countries continue to build LNG facilities to import gas for power generation and other uses. 

Carbon capture, utilization and storage will enable companies to extract carbon from emissions and either funnel it to productive uses or sequester it so that it is not released into the atmosphere. In either case, the overall volume of carbon emitted is reduced. 

And the trend toward distributed generation could revitalize nuclear power, which does not emit carbon. Companies and governments around the world, including the US and the UK, are signaling support for small modular reactors that can be sited in a broad range of settings to meet targeted power needs. 

Green financing and M&A grow 

Governments and the private sector have important roles to play in financing the energy transition. Governments can invest in R&D to develop proofs-of-concepts for new technologies, share risk for investment in green energy infrastructure, support the private sector through clear policy and regulation, and provide funding for green/energy transition projects. 

Energy transition is also driving M&A, as companies adjust their portfolios to reflect evolving strategic objectives. There was a significant uptick in US power M&A, European offshore wind M&A and in global SPAC activity related to electric vehicle companies

In the US and UK, shareholder activism is likely to spur additional ESG-focused campaigns and dealmaking, as activist funds like Third Point and Engine No. 1 increasingly press for action based on the logic of energy transition. And in Japan, activist shareholders are increasingly concerned with ESG issues.

Climate litigation rises 

It has been clear for some time that sustainability demands are fueling legal risk. Climate change-related disputes have evolved beyond damages-based claims to a new and diverse class of climate change-related actions. Two high-profile cases in Europe that could significantly expand liability and impose broader restrictions on companies highlight the evolving nature of climate disputes around the world.

Although climate change litigation is steadily increasing worldwide, few cases have so far been filed in Africa. Yet the success of rights-based litigation in Europe is likely to influence the future of climate litigation in Africa, with more cases expected in the coming years. 

The global increase in climate change-related actions has amplified pressure on legislators, regulators and legal institutions to facilitate the prosecution of such actions, and many regulatory authorities have responded with procedural developments designed to foster the pragmatic use of legal remedies. 

Arbitration has been gaining recognition as a potential forum for the resolution of disputes related to climate change. And new voluntary rules and guidelines on how to manage the risk of climate change issues are also being developed, highlighting the increasing attention that climate change is attracting in the corporate governance setting.


Photo by Tunvarat Pruksachat © Getty Images
Electrical engineers at work at a wind turbine farm in Thailand


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