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Driving ambition in green finance

The transition to a clean, low carbon and resilient economy is a multi-billion pound investment opportunity and we want UK businesses to take full advantage of it. The UK has long been regarded as a leading global financial centre, with a world leading stock market featuring nearly 80 green bonds listed on the London Stock Exchange. We are determined to cement the UK’s position as a global hub for investment in clean growth.

Since setting up the Green Finance Taskforce, the government has been taking concrete steps to strengthen our green finance capability. The government and City of London will co-fund a new Green Finance Institute that will act as the focal point for future UK green finance activity. The government has also announced changes to pensions regulations so that trustees will have to set out how they consider the financial risks and opportunities arising from climate change.

And the government has now committed to build on the Green Finance Taskforce report by publishing the UK’s first ever Green Finance Strategy in Spring 2019. This will set out the steps we are taking to attract the investment we need into our clean economy and to cement the UK’s position as a global leader, including:

  • supporting developing countries through their low carbon transition
  • integrating green principles across the financial services sector

Raising awareness & increasing engagement in Green Finance

As part of Green GB Week there will be a dedicated Green Finance events programme with activities spread across the week. The aim of these events is to raise awareness of the green finance agenda and the role of financial services in unlocking investment into environmentally and socially-beneficial technologies and infrastructure in the UK and internationally.

These events will reach a broad audience including consumers and young people, as well as organisations across the financial sector including regulators, insurers, pension funds, asset managers, legal firms and retail banks. The official Green Finance Day agenda (today Wednesday 17 October) includes:

  • a Market Opening at the London Stock Exchange with a speech from John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury
  • a full day programme at the Tate Modern coordinated by HSBC, including sessions on women in sustainable finance, greening your pension fund, integrating climate risk into investment decisions and building capacity in emerging markets
  • a Climate Resilience Summit led by Willis Towers Watson

On Friday 19 October, during Green GB Week, the Financial Conduct Authority will lead a half day workshop on supporting green finance innovation, and BNP Paribas will host a careers event to highlight different finance career opportunities to students interested in sustainability.

Catalysing investment in Clean Tech

The government will be investing up to £20 million alongside at least £20 million from private investors in a new venture capital fund called the Clean Growth Fund. It is only through innovation, nurturing better products, processes and systems that we will see the cost of clean technologies come down. This new fund will aim to catalyse the market and leverage private sector funding to ensure these innovative clean technologies can bridge the valley of death and achieve impact at scale. On 17 October, we published a Request for Proposals for fund managers.

Boosting investment in green infrastructure

BEIS is working with the Infrastructure and Projects Authority to explore how best government could produce meaningful data setting out which infrastructure projects can be considered ‘green’. This would increase transparency, illustrating the government’s commitment to leading by example in tackling climate change, and showcasing the opportunities available to investors looking to place funds in green projects.

The government will host a national conference followed by at least 5 regional workshops – bringing together local authorities, cities, investors and civil society to help build partnerships to start delivering the pipeline of projects currently being developed at local level. This will help connect investors and the wider finance sector to local projects, and increase the role that regions and local players can have to boost the development of green infrastructure. The government will be working in partnership with UK100, Leeds City Council and more to set up this ambitious programme of work, which will be delivered throughout 2019.

Supporting consistency & comparability in the sector

The British Standards Institution (BSI) will be developing two new UK-led, internationally relevant, PAS (Publicly Available Specification) documents in Sustainable Finance to increase confidence in, and understanding of, sustainable investments and activities. A new Strategic Advisory Group chaired by Peter Young, Trustee and Chair of the Green Purposes Company, has been established to provide strategic direction for BSI’s wider Sustainable Finance Standardisation Programme. This work was commissioned by ministers in the Clean Growth Strategy and is being co-funded with the City of London’s Green Finance Initiative.

BSI will also be leading a new International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) Technical Committee to develop international standards on Sustainable Finance, informed by the UK-led PAS work. This demonstrates the prominence of UK thought leadership globally, and will contribute to meeting the objective we set out in the Industrial Strategy to become the standard-setters in green finance.

Global leadership & building capacity in emerging market economies

UK leadership on green finance is further demonstrated by the new UK PACT (Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions), a £60 million BEIS-run technical assistance programme to share UK skills with partners around the world. The first UK PACT projects strengthen collaboration between the UK and China on green finance, with a focus on harmonised standards for green bonds, analysis of green asset performance, advice on TCFD implementation and supporting the set-up of a new UK-China Green Finance Centre.

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Memphis educators recognised for excellence at award ceremony

THE New Memphis Institute has kicked off a special program to award distinguished teachers and school leaders in the city’s highest needs schools.

Recipients of the New Memphis Institute Educators of Excellence Award were recently honoured at a luncheon with a panel of Memphis’ top education leaders, including Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson and Achievement School District Superintendent Sharon Griffin. This effort is part of New Memphis’ leadership program that works to attract, develop, activate and retain talent in Memphis.

“Educators are a vital strata of talent in our city that often goes under acknowledged. At New Memphis, we believe it is essential to recognise the contribution of our best educators, to learn from their experiences, and to support them in their growth,” said Nancy Coffee, New Memphis President and CEO.

Five graduates of the New Memphis program made the inaugural list of 2018 honourees and each received a $1,500 check. The recipients are:

Rebecca Bowers – Category: Teacher – Rebecca currently teaches 3rd grade at Kingsbury Elementary. She is the grade level chair, serves on her school’s instructional leadership team and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Auburn University with a degree in Early Childhood Education. Rebecca has seven years of service and is a Memphis Teacher Residency mentor.

James Johnson – Category: Teacher – James currently teaches Science at Chickasaw Middle School. He serves as the science department chair, student council advisor and track coach. He has also worked a diversity, equity and inclusion coach at Teach for America’s regional institute for several years. James has seven years of service, is a Teach for America – Memphis alumnus and a former Student Government Association President at the University of Memphis.

Kevin Kimberly – Category: Instructional Staff – Kevin currently works as a development coach at Perea Elementary and a Chief Educational Consultant at ForwardEd Consulting. A former middle and high school principal at Memphis Catholic, Kevin has seven years of experience and completed his Master’s in Education at the University of Notre Dame.

Tamera Malone – Category: Instructional Staff – Tamera currently works as an instructional coach at Gestalt Public Schools and previously worked as a middle school teacher and special education teacher. Tamera completed her Masters in Teacher Education, Special Education at the University of Memphis and is currently completing her Doctorate at U of M in Instruction & Curriculum. Tamera has nine years of experience, is a graduate of UT – Knoxville and served on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s National Teacher Advisory Council.

Jeffrey Veale, Jr. – Category: School Administrator – Jeffrey currently works as the School Director at Leadership Preparatory Charter School but previously taught 3rd grade mathematics at Ford Road Elementary in the Innovation Zone. He has been recognised with the 2012-13 Most Effective First Year Teacher award and the 2012-13 Featured Teacher for Elementary Effective Practice conference. He also worked for four years in operations leadership at Teach for America-Memphis regional institute.

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Exclusive: A lawyer’s guide to keeping it professional on social media

In today’s environment, social media allows people to instantly share their opinions with the world. However, given the many heated issues that dominate our national discourse, there can be a tendency to post (or tweet) in anger or passion, which can lead to regrets later.

This risk is especially dangerous for attorneys. While attorneys may sometimes view their presence on social media to be in a “personal” capacity, the reality is that the line between personal and business can be blurred, or may not exist at all. In particular, with respect to an attorney’s ethical obligations, it may not be a very effective defence for an attorney to claim that she was acting in her personal capacity, and not as a lawyer, when she violated an ethical rule.

Recognising the rise of these issues in the age of social media, the State Bar of California issued a Formal Opinion in 2012 that addressed the interplay between postings on a supposedly personal social media page and the ethical rules governing attorney advertising. State Bar of California Formal Op. No. 2012-186. At issue were certain posts on an attorney’s personal social media page that highlighted the successes the attorney had on other cases, such as “Another great victory in court today! My client is delighted. Who wants to be next?” The California Bar concluded that, even among posts relating to the attorney’s personal life, such posts and others constituted the solicitation of clients or otherwise “concern[ed] the availability for professional employment,” and thus were required to comply with the rules for attorney advertising set forth in the California Rules of Professional Conduct.

Another potential issue exacerbated by the rise of social media is the potential for “positional” conflicts. Such a conflict may typically exist where, for example, an attorney argues for a certain interpretation of a statute in one lawsuit because it is in the best interests of one client, but then at the same time argues for the opposite interpretation of the same statute in another lawsuit on behalf of a different client. Comment 6 to Rule 1.7 of the California Rules of Professional Conduct (as effective Nov. 1, 2018) provides that such circumstances typically do not create a conflict requiring the client’s informed written consent unless certain factors are present.

However, it is arguably less clear how positional conflicts may function in the context of positions taken on social media. Comment 4 to Rule 1.7 provides that a conflict of interest requiring informed written consent) exists “if there is a significant risk that a lawyer’s ability to consider, recommend or carry out an appropriate course of action for the client will be materially limited as a result of the lawyer’s other responsibilities, interests, or relationships, whether legal, business, financial, professional, or personal.” Interpreting similar provisions, at least one bar association has stated that attorneys sharing information on social media sites should exercise caution “when stating positions on issues, as those stated positions could be adverse to an interest of a client, thus inadvertently creating a conflict.” See District of Columbia Bar Ethics Op. 370.

Although some commentators have suggested that the D.C. Bar’s opinion goes too far to limit attorneys, social media posts can also create sticky client relations issues even if the posts do not rise to the level of a traditional conflict of interest. Below are some tips for avoiding issues when using social media.

Considering Staying Neutral

Social media is generally not a place for balanced, well-reasoned assessments of issues but is used by many to express visceral reactions to news events. While attorneys may feel the urge to immediately share their thoughts with the world, they do so at their own risk.

For example, if Congress is considering passing a law that may impact a client, an attorney may be inclined to immediately offer her or his opinion on that law without regard to whether that position is aligned with the client’s. Even if the attorney’s posting does not create an actual conflict, a client certainly may be less than pleased to see its law firm advocating for a position if that position stands to harm the client’s business, financial or legal interests.

Likewise, commenting on ongoing cases can also be risky, but attorneys who feel compelled to do so can limit their risks by avoiding taking a definite stance and instead presenting a balanced analysis. That could help avoid creating any potential positional conflict with the interests of a client of the attorney and her or his law firm.

Avoid Unprofessional Conduct

Attorneys (typically) understand that their correspondence and briefs should be consistent with the level of decorum expected of members of the bar. Too often, that level of decorum is thrown out the window on social media. However, despite the informality of social media, it should not be considered as a free zone for unprofessional conduct.

A good rule of thumb is to ask whether the comment made on social media would be appropriate if standing outside a courtroom or at a dinner party. Many times, attorneys post comments on social media that they would never say in a face-to-face conversation, much less one with a client.

In some respects, comments on social media are worse than face-to-face conversations, as they are generally broadcast to the world and preserved for posterity. Courts and bars are increasingly taking notice of these issues and applying the same bar rules to social media as they do to traditional legal correspondence.

Think First

The most obvious tip can often be the hardest in practice. Before posting on any substantive issue (e.g., legal or political issues), it is helpful to stop and think practically about the post and the possible response from their firms, clients, and potential clients. Where practical, it may be a good idea to first run the posting by a colleague or firm leadership to ensure that it does not create any unintended conflicts or client relations issues.

Too often, attorneys instead let their emotions take over and fire off a post without a second thought. While attorneys certainly can use social media effectively in establishing a presence in their community or in a certain practice area, the undisciplined use of social media can unfortunately create the wrong kind of presence very quickly.

Shari L. Klevens is a partner at Dentons US and serves on the firm’s US Board of Directors. She represents and advises lawyers and insurers on complex claims, is co-chair of Dentons’ global insurance sector team, and is co-author of “California Legal Malpractice Law” (2014).

Alanna Clair is a partner at Dentons US and focuses on professional liability defence. Shari and Alanna are co-authors of “The Lawyer’s Handbook: Ethics Compliance and Claim Avoidance.”

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DLA Piper boosts trainee salaries to £77k, as pay rises continue

DLA Piper has upped the salaries of its trainees and newly qualified (NQ) solicitors, as City law firms continue to chuck extra cash at their rookie ranks.

The global titan has confirmed that first years will now receive a salary of £45,000, up 2% from £44,000, while those in year two of their TCs will earn £50,000, again a rise of £1,000 or 2%. There’s extra cash for DLA’s NQs, too. The firm’s new associates will now receive £77,000, an extra £2,000 or 3%, putting them on the same remuneration levels as their peers at Baker McKenzie and Norton Rose Fulbright.

The firm, which offers around 70 training contracts each year, has also bumped pay across its offices outside London. First year trainees in the English regions and Scotland now earn £28,000, while those a year ahead will now receive a salary of £31,000 — an extra £1,000 across the board. Regional and Scottish NQ pay now sits at £44,000, up from a previous figure of £42,000.

News of the uplifts come just weeks after it emerged that DLA Piper had ditched a policy which ensured its London and regional trainees were paid the same while completing secondments overseas. Speaking at the time, a spokesperson for the firm said the “adjustment to the secondment policy for our UK regional offices” was part of a “new international graduate programme”.

A host of City firms have confirmed salary rises in recent weeks. A full breakdown of what they pay (and much, much more) can be found on the 2018 edition of our Firms Most List.

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How businesses can make smarter energy decisions

Ever since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change were established, the UK has been on a journey – a journey to become a low-carbon nation. The recent announcement of the Streamlined Energy Carbon Reporting scheme (SECR), designed to help businesses as they become more energy conscious, is just the latest stage in this transition.

The SECR is a proposed new reporting scheme from the Government. It is set to replace the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), which is due to end in 2019. It aims to use energy efficiency as a mechanism to help increase business productivity. And it will also improve the security of energy supplies, as the goal is to reduce current use by at least 20 per cent before 2030.

So who will this affect and what will it involve?

SECR is aimed at companies with at least 250 employees or an annual turnover greater than £36m, as well as an annual balance sheet greater than £18m. The number of companies reporting into the SECR will include those in the Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS), taking the number of businesses involved from 1,200 to 11,900.

If you fall into this category then you’ll be automatically entered into the scheme and your energy use, carbon emissions and energy efficiency actions will be made publicly available, with a suitable intensity metric for reference.

What does this mean for these businesses?

For those who aren’t already on their energy efficiency journey, SECR will likely mean additional administrative costs. But if 20 per cent improvements in energy efficiency can be achieved, that can have its own financial advantages.

So what can businesses do?

An energy management system that encompasses people, process and technology will make reporting for regulatory purposes a much smoother process. But companies should go back to the basics of energy management and analyse their operations to understand the meaningful and sustainable changes they can make.

Here are our six steps to help:

Step 1 – Get everyone involved

Start everyone from across your business talking about energy. Make sure to get buy-in on any new initiatives from your senior management. After all, without their commitment, energy management may falter and can be marginalised.

Step 2 – Write an effective energy policy articulating your organisation’s commitment

This should: set an objective, define targets, develop an action plan, establish accountability, ensure continuous improvement and ensure compliance.

Step 3 – Assess your energy performance

As they say, “to measure is to manage”. Understand your past and present energy performance in order to establish benchmarks and begin understanding your energy use patterns and trends. SECR will be a good starting point.

Step 4 – Conduct energy audits

This will help you identify areas of energy savings within your organisation, whether this be by engaging staff, streamlining processes or installing energy efficient technology. Perhaps all three. So dust off that ESOS report or energy survey or perhaps take a fresh look and audit all aspects that affect energy performance: people, process and technology.

Step 5 – Prioritise

Make sure to prioritise your projects and get them done.

Step 6 – Monitor the benefits

Keep an eye on the results of your projects and communicate these to your senior management. It might make justifying capital expenditure easier in future if your energy projects have a proven record of delivering savings. So, sit back, relax and reap the rewards…but don’t get complacent, always strive to improve.

Ultimately, the best thing businesses can do is to get on board the energy efficiency band wagon as soon as possible.

Energy efficiency is beneficial to all businesses, including SMEs, as it removes unnecessary costs from your business. By understanding where your starting point is, you are already on your first steps to helping the UK’s clean energy agenda, as well as becoming a more cost-effective business.

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Who’s switching jobs? People moves for October 12th

The latest news for People on the Move, including insights and opinions from employment experts around the globe.

Octopus Property

Specialist property lender Octopus Property, part of the Octopus Group, announced the appointment of Paula Purdy as business development manager (BDM), north of England, reporting directly to D’mitri Zaprzala, Head of Sales. Paula’s appointment follows on from the three regional BDM hires announced last month, with representatives now established across the UK. Paula brings over 17 years of residential, commercial, buy-to-let and bridging lending experience. She joins Octopus Property from Shawbrook Bank, where she was head of sales, residential mortgages, increasing business and raising Shawbrook’s profile amongst intermediaries. Paula will be responsible for deepening relationships with introducers, alongside building new ones, in and around major North of England cities including Chester, Liverpool, Crewe and Warrington, leveraging Octopus Property’s residential, commercial and development product range.

White & Case LLP

Global law firm White & Case has expanded its global project finance practice with the addition of Simon Caridia as a new partner in London. Simon focuses his practice on debt financings for infrastructure M&A and private equity transactions. He advises industry sponsors, infrastructure and private equity funds, commercial bank lenders, multilateral agencies, institutional investors and host governments on brownfield transactions and greenfield projects, including acquisitions, refinancing’s, restructurings, project finance and public-private partnerships. He joins White & Case from Herbert Smith Freehills, where he was a partner. “There are very few lawyers in the London market who can match Simon’s reputation, experience and market knowledge in relation to advising clients on debt financing for infrastructure M&A and private equity deals,” said White & Case partner Mark Castillo-Bernaus.

Houlihan Lokey

Houlihan Lokey, the global investment bank, yesterday announced that David Brock had joined the firm as a managing director in its industrials group, focused on the building products sector. He is based in London. David joins from Jefferies, where he was a managing director and head of the construction and building materials group. Prior to Jefferies, he was also a managing director and head of the construction and building materials group at Deutsche Bank. David’s previous experience also includes equity research roles in the building products sector at Credit Suisse and HSBC. “I am excited for the opportunity to be part of this momentum and to be joining the market-leading Industrials team,” David said.