In 2015, the GIIN, in partnership with the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP), launched the Legal Practitioners Track, with the aim of fostering a community of practice among impact investing lawyers. As a field-building organization, the GIIN prioritizes initiatives in the impact investing market which have the potential to catalyze further growth of the industry. When the GIIN and ISLP launched the Legal Practitioners Track, only a few nascent efforts were in place to convene and catalyze impact investing lawyers leveraging the unique role they play in the investment process, and strengthen their contributions to the impact investing field.
With the rise of other networks supporting lawyers, such as the Impact Investing Legal Working Group and European Social Enterprise Law Association, and the growing recognition of the GIIN’s unique ability to mobilize impact investing stakeholders across the industry, in 2017, the GIIN evolved its engagement with impact investing lawyers to utilize their skills throughout our field-building initiatives, rather than through a standalone program track.
Legal practitioners play a significant role in advancing the impact investing industry as trusted advisors to investors over the life of an impact investment—from the structuring and financing through the deployment and exit of investments. Like many elements in a growing and evolving impact investing industry, the legal challenges that lawyers face when structuring and deploying impact investments are often without precedent, and lawyers have few example transactions to utilize as guidance. To address these challenges, the GIIN, in partnership with the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP), formed the Legal Practitioners Track—an action-oriented practitioners network that fostered a community of practice among legal experts in the field and provided a platform for legal innovation and thought leadership.
Key Objectives and Activities
Over the two-year period of the program, the GIIN-ISLP Legal Practitioners Track brought legal experts and other like-minded professionals together to exchange knowledge and build best practices around legal considerations that arose throughout the investment process. Engaging affiliates from both GIIN and ISLP networks, the program track offered the following activities:
- In-Person Events. The Legal Practitioners Track convened annually, allowing participants to take deep dives into topics that informed their impact investing practices. Sessions focused on areas such as alternative fund structures, blended capital, cross-border transactions, and impact measurement.
- Legal Tools & Resources. The Legal Practitioners Track monitored and analyzed key legal and regulatory developments and emerging structures and tools that affected the impact investing space. With the pro bono assistance of ISLP member firms, the project produced briefing papers and high-level guidance in response to issues identified by the Legal Practitioners Track’s membership.
- Private LinkedIn Group. Through a private LinkedIn group, members could seek advice from one another on the challenges they were facing in structuring and deploying impact investments as well as share the latest developments, regulatory or otherwise, affecting impact investors.
- Webinars. Members of the Legal Practitioners Track were also invited to virtual conversations on topics aimed to advance their impact investing practices. Webinars included “Navigating the EU’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive,” “Aligning Missions: How Investors are Achieving Impact Objectives,” and “The Making of a Mission-Related Investment.”
An Advisory Committee helped to guide the activities of the Legal Practitioners Track and included representatives from the following organizations: Bates, Wells & Braithwaite; Davis Polk; FMO; Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship; LeapFrog Investments; MacArthur Foundation; and Omidyar Network.
Current Opportunities for the Legal Impact Investing Community to Engage with the GIIN
The GIIN recognizes the crucial role legal practitioners play in developing the impact investing field, and welcomes law firms into its Network Membership. We encourage legal practitioners to share their expertise, especially in the current programmatic workstreams:
Please contact NetworkMembership@thegiin.org for more information.
Additional Networks for Legal Practitioners
International Senior Lawyers Project
ISLP is a mission driven organization that provides pro bono legal assistance to governments and civil society organizations in developing countries, leveraging global legal resources in alignment with client needs to support just, accountable and inclusive development. ISLP’s impact investing program aims to stimulate impact investment opportunities and support access to legal assistance for small to medium-sized enterprises and nascent investment vehicles that embed social or environmental benefits into their business models. Learn more about this organization here.
Impact Investing Legal Working Group
Housed within the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship at NYU Law, the Impact Investing Legal Working Group is a group of lawyers who work in the field of impact investing and represent a diverse array of organizations, including impact investors, social enterprises, law firms, nonprofit organizations, foundations, and academic institutions. Learn more about the group here.
European Social Enterprise Law Association
The European Social Enterprise Law Association (ESELA) is an international network of law firms, legal experts, academics, and others interested in how the law applies to social enterprise, not for profits, co-operatives and mutuals, impact investing, profit with purpose business, and social procurement. ESELA's aim is to promote a better understanding of the law in these practice areas, with a view to supporting the development and growth of social enterprise for public benefit. Learn more about the group here.