For more than 20 years, Morrison & Foerster has shown commitment to the social enterprise and impact investing space. Practice group co-chair and partner Susan Mac Cormac was honored in 2015 by the Financial Times as the Most Innovative North American Lawyer for her work championing legal innovation for social enterprises and impact investors and was named by California Lawyer as Attorney of the Year in 2012 (for creating a new corporate form, now the Social Purpose Corporation) and in 2016 (for impact investing and sale of Imprint Capital to Goldman Sachs). The Financial Times recognized the firm again in its 2016 North America Innovative Lawyers Report as joint winners with firm client NPX Advisors for structuring the world’s first Impact Security and in 2018 for its work with The Carbon Endowment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions while supporting communities adversely affected by the clean energy transition. Along with Ms. Mac Cormac, the firm has a team of attorneys in the corporate, finance, tax, patent, and licensing groups who are passionate about solving the world’s biggest problems through innovative business models and mission-focused investments.
Our leading legal practice supports:
Our attorneys work with clients to blend impact into traditional corporate forms, particularly corporations, through use of protective provisions, information rights, and shareholders agreements, and LLCs through negotiated language ensuring mission focus and reporting. With respect to new corporate forms, Susan Mac Cormac co-authored the legislation in California that created what is now called the Social Purpose Corporation (SPC). The SPC and the Public Benefit Corporation (Delaware), together with other forms of benefit corporation, represent a new for-profit business form allowing companies to pursue social and environmental purposes in addition to promoting shareholder profitability.
We also specialize in representing “impact” investors, both those that focus on impact first but expect to generate returns in the long term and those that prioritize return but want to ensure positive social or environmental impact and/or mitigate negative impacts.
Further, we have deep experience and expertise in providing advice to boards and committees on fiduciary issues, conflicts of interest, and other corporate matters related to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.
A representative list of our impact investing/social enterprise expertise includes:
Select social enterprise and nonprofit clients include Revolution Foods, Planet Labs, Etsy, Drip Drop Hydration, Medicines360, The Nature Conservancy, Greyston Bakery, PRX, Digital Divide Data, Common Sense Media, Amp Politics, Beneficial State Bank, Change.org, Ceres, and Year Up.
Select impact investing clients include DBL Partners, Omidyar Network, Emerson Collective, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, The Rockefeller Foundation, TPG Rise Fund, Generation Investment Management, Calvert Foundation, Pontifax AgTech, Pacific Community Ventures, Brightpath Capital Partners, RSF Social Finance, OPIC, Vision Ridge Partners, and New Island Capital.
Furthering its commitment to the sustainability space, Morrison & Foerster proudly serves as a lead founding firm of the Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy, a groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind initiative to advance sustainability around the world. Through the program, the firm has committed to providing free legal services worth at least $2 million by 2020 to entrepreneurs and community-based nonprofits taking on key sustainability challenges.
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