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


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

What have we learned from COVID-19?

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

Read 5 min. article
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

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

Read 5 min. article
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

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

Read 5 min. article
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

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 

Read 6 min. article
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

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

Read 5 min. article
An arrow points to the right against a background of different colored dots.
Simon Carter © 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

Read 4 min. article
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

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

Read 10 min. article

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

 

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 new partners

An outstanding roster of talented lawyers strengthened our Firm in 2021

Read 1 min. article
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

2021 awards & rankings

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

Read 3 min. article

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

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

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

Read 1 min. article

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

 

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

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 

Read 1 min. article
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

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

Read 1 min. article
Top
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.

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

Article
5 min read

Chris Pinney is president and CEO of High Meadows Institute, a think tank focused on the role of business in creating a sustainable society. In October 2021, he participated in a Financial Times Moral Money Summit panel discussion on partnerships between business and financiers. The event was sponsored, in part, by White & Case. 

We caught up with Pinney to talk about the questions companies should be asking, the need for consistency on sustainability issues and moving beyond goal-setting. An edited and condensed version of that conversation follows. 

When it comes to creating a more sustainable world, how are the roles of government and business shifting?

We’re in the process of renegotiating the social contract. The old model was: Pay your taxes; obey the law; and the government takes care of the rest. That model no longer works. To use an analogy: New music is playing; we’re on stage; and we don’t yet know who leads. Is it government? Business? Civil society? How do these players interact in a different way? 

What led to this change?

In a global economy, governments have lost their ability to control their economic future and are proving increasingly incapable of ensuring social welfare. Global businesses, on the other hand, have prospered, and they have a profound effect on the societies in which they operate. As a result, trust in government has dropped dramatically, and people are looking to global firms to take more of a leadership role in helping to address social challenges. Businesses must now develop more robust corporate governance and leadership frameworks.

How can businesses find the best path forward as expectations evolve? 

They can start by asking the right questions. The first would be whether they have an ESG strategy that identifies which social issues have the potential to materially affect the business. These issues need to be factored into their long-term corporate strategy. Businesses will also need to learn how to weigh and track their financial performance against ESG issues and report their progress to their internal and external stakeholders, among other considerations. 

Can we make the necessary progress without governmental support?

No. Government also has to do its job. But as business becomes a political actor, part of the challenge will be supporting governments as they try to advance sensible initiatives around climate change and other sustainability issues. Businesses are starting to understand that they can’t do their nice sustainability work on the one hand, and on the other hand lobby against those very same measures. Investors are paying a lot more attention to the political role that large firms play, looking at whether their lobbying is consistent with their stated sustainability goals. 

How do the motivations of institutional investors and politicians differ as to sustainability?

Politicians, particularly in this increasingly populist environment, are mainly concerned with their local constituents and reelection. This limits their ability to focus on the long term. Institutional investors, on the other hand, are looking 30 years out. That’s why we see large institutional investors start to play the role that governments used to play, ensuring that companies operate for the long-term benefit of both their shareholders and stakeholders in ways that are sustainable, environmentally responsible and good for their employees.

Are institutional investors taking any steps you find especially encouraging? 

On the ESG front, I’m most encouraged by the move to focus on impact, not just policies and procedures, and the growing realization of the need to address the credit market, which is larger than the equity market and the primary source of funding for carbon-intensive industries. 

Why are we beginning to see this shift to the credit markets?

In addition to the fact that they are the primary source of financing for carbon-intensive industries, credit markets are also the next opportunity for ESG-focused investment managers with many new green bond issues that are oversubscribed as soon as they hit the market.  

How can companies move beyond goal-setting?

One lesson of COP26 (the November 2021 UN global climate summit in Glasgow) was that you absolutely have to focus on transition strategies. Absent a transition strategy, you’ll have problems if you move too fast without considering the social consequences. We saw that with the yellow vest protests in France—the populist backlash against rising gas prices following a green tax on carbon-based fuel. So, you’re going to see investors spending much more time focusing on companies’ transition strategies, not just their goals.  

What might an effective transition strategy look like?

There is no one magic bullet. For example, if you’re an airline, you’re not going to get there through more energy efficiency. You’ll have to invest in sequestration to offset your emissions. If you’re a food company, you have enormous potential to change your business model so the business creates less carbon and more value. You have to assess your particular firm’s impacts and what, if anything, can be mitigated through business model transformation or, if not, offset through the purchase of carbon credits.


Photo by Sholikhul Bakhmid © Getty Images
A road winds through hills in Indonesia


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