Top Ten European Cleantech Law Firms

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Business, or commercial law, is extremely vital throughout the clean technology industry. Law firms are an essential part of the process of addressing a wide variety of issues relevant to different sectors of clean technology companies. These issues may include energy regulatory, bank loans, project financing, venture debt, debt financing, intellectual property, and a variety of environmental concerns. Provided below is a directory of ten of the top European law firms that have provided unparalleled assistance to small start-up entrepreneurial companies all the way to multimillion Euro companies involved in clean technology, including renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.

1) Eversheds is an international law firm with one of the few teams which advises across the entire project lifecycle from real estate and consenting through to construction, financing, M&A and equity investments. The team specialises across all technologies from offshore and onshore wind, biomass, waste, solar, hydro, geothermal and wave and tidal. The team is currently advising the Forewind Consortium which is developing the largest renewable energy project globally – the 10 to 13GW Dogger Bank offshore wind project. Eversheds is widely regarded as a leader in the clean energy space and in its own right was voted in The Times as the greenest law firm.

2) Clifford Chance is a London-based international law firm with 33 offices in 23 different countries that offer six main areas of activity – corporate and mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, finance and banking, tax, pensions and employment, real estate, and litigation and dispute resolution. At Clifford Chance, the Global Energy and Infrastructure group is a multi-disciplinary group providing innovative legal advice, such as capital markets, environment, project finance, and PFI/PPP. They group is devoted to assisting companies keeping pace with various regulatory and market developments, including emissions, carbon capture and trading, as well as developments in nuclear power.

3) Allen and Overy LLP is headquartered in Europe but it has 36 offices spread in 26 countries, including recent additions in Indonesia, Australia and Qatar. Allen and Overy LLP has their own Energy and Natural Resources team offers clients necessary advice on various issues including utilities and power, transmission and distribution, carbon capture and storage, oil and gas, renewable energy, and nuclear power. Clients include sovereign governments, corporations, financial institutions, and manufacturers. Allen and Overy LLP provides a number of services including mergers and acquisitions, energy and emissions trading, funding, litigation, and project development.

4) Linklaters has offices in 26 countries around the world, including throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America, and the Middle East. Linklaters does a number of practices for business, including banking, capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, trusts, tax, and real estate. Their Energy and Utilities sector focuses on providing necessary advice to a number of renewable industries to ensure items such as carbon reduction, security of supply, and renewable energy. Linklaters ranked as a top tier law firm in the energy sector and one of the few to offer global capabilities.

5) Freshfields is a leader among numerous international law firms, providing advice to 27 countries throughout Europe, United States, Asia and the Middle East. Practices at Freshfields include dispute resolution, antitrust, corporate, finance, tax, and finance. They have a sector dedicated to energy and natural resources. With over 200 lawyers with advanced knowledge in the clean technology field, they have experience in dealing with items like regulators and takeovers. This law firm is currently the official legal services provider for the 2012 London Olympics.

6) CMS Cameron McKenna is one of the leading European law firms providing legal and tax services. CMS has 54 offices in 29 countries. The firm’s clean technology practice spans all practice areas including mergers and acquisitions, banking and finance, private equity, energy, environment, intellectual property, projects and infrastructure, technology, procurement and real estate. This practice stands out for its holistic approach. CMS understands not only the prospects and needs of the cleantech sector itself but also the huge commercial impacts which cleantech presents to all existing mature sectors. The firm recognizes the new interfaces that cleantech is drawing between for instance the consumer products, energy, ICT, real estate, transport, waste and water sectors. Accordingly, this firm advises a wide array of clients on all aspects of cleantech energy generation, cleantech mitigation of traditional energy generation, clean technologies in buildings management and efficiency, consumer product design, emissions abatement and mitigation, logistics, public procurement, resource efficiency and recovery, transport, waste and water.

7) SJ Berwin has won numerous accolades for its work as an international law firm including four different Law Firm of the Year awards in 2010. This European law firm has numerous offices throughout the continent, including Belgium, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. SJ Berwin is known as one of the leading international Energy and Infrastructure practices, especially in the sectors of clean technology, renewable energy, and carbon. SJ Berwin assists clients in taking advantages of all clean technology opportunities, while managing around inherent regulatory risks.

8 ) Manheimer Swartling is a full service law firm providing top tier assistance throughout the Nordic region. Located in Sweden, Manheimer Swartling has assisted a number of leading international large and mid-size companies. Manheimer Swartling is involved in a number of practice groups, including climate change and the environment. Climate change was recently added to assist in addressing various issues associated with climate change and the goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through trading. The Climate Change group assists with drafting trading purchase documents, pledging and sale or emission rights, and also emission credits. Assignments handled by this group include corporate taxation, disputes, funds and investments, and mergers and acquisitions.

9) Cleary Gottlieb is a leading international law firm with 13 offices throughout the globe that has a number of areas of law, including antitrust and competition, capital markets, corporate governance, environmental law, intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, public international law, real estate, tax, and internal investigations and securities enforcement. Cleary Gottlieb has an entire sector of their law firm dedicated to eergy, including renewable energy, electric power, and oil, gas and petrochemicals. In the renewable energy sector, Cleary and Gottlieb have assisted with developers, utilities, production facilities, and a number of other industrial companies. With their geographic reach, Cleary Gottlieb provides all the necessary experience. For example, in 2006, the law firm advised underwriters in an initial public offering by Renewable Energy Corporation ASA of over 74,000,000 ordinary shares on the Oslo stock exchange.

10) Morrison Foerster is a global law firm with key centers in Europe, the United States, and Asia offering a number of practices, including litigation, business and finance, intellectual property, international, industries, and regulatory. Their clean technology sector is known for providing necessary advice for a number of companies, investors and other intermediaries, including investment banks, venture capitalists, private equity houses, hedge funds, and boutique advisory firms. The European lawyers have the necessary experience needed to understand the global clean technology market and clients benefit from this knowledge.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at shawn@watershedcapital.com

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.