Drinker Biddle’s Benefit Corporations & Corporate Sustainability practice helps clients understand and foster the opportunities and profitability associated with sustainable and “triple bottom line” business practices. A growing sector of the economy is dedicated to developing and maintaining business practices and investment strategies that are profitable and sustainable, both through traditional means and through innovative strategies, such as alternative entity structures like the benefit corporation.
Benefit corporations (sometimes referred to as “B Corps”) are an increasingly popular form of corporate entity for socially conscious and sustainable businesses. Benefit corporations have most of the characteristics of a traditional business corporation, but are subject to new requirements with respect to purpose, accountability, and transparency: (1) they must have a corporate purpose to create a material, positive impact on society and the environment; (2) the fiduciary duties of directors are expanded to require consideration of nonfinancial interests; and (3) they must report on their overall social and environmental performance as assessed against a comprehensive, credible, independent, and transparent third-party standard.
Drinker Biddle has been instrumental in drafting the legislation creating benefit corporations in each of the states where it has been adopted thus far. In July 2013, Delaware became the 19th state to enact benefit corporation legislation. This was a momentous occasion for the B Corp movement as over one million businesses are incorporated in Delaware, including approximately 50% of publicly traded companies.
Having been a part of this initiative since inception, the Drinker Biddle team is uniquely qualified to walk companies through the process of becoming a benefit corporation. In fact, B Lab, the nonprofit organization that independently certifies companies as a benefit corporation, has designated Drinker Biddle as a go-to law firm to assist companies with the legal requirements necessary to become a benefit corporation.
Drinker Biddle is a leader in sustainability and triple bottom line business, with a firm-wide commitment to making our offices more sustainable and evaluating our impact on our clients and local communities. Drinker Biddle is a charter member of the Greater Philadelphia Green Business Program and our Philadelphia office was one of the first signatories to the “The Greater Philadelphia Green Business Commitment.” In August 2013, the firm joined a group of other top U.S. law firms to announce the incorporation the Law Firm Sustainability Network, a non-profit organization committed to developing key performance indicators, fostering knowledge-sharing, developing best practice guidelines, and recognizing and promoting sustainability innovations in the U.S. legal sector. In addition, many of our office buildings have been certified and won awards for their “green” efforts. Our San Francisco office has been certified as a Bay Area Green Business by the City and County of San Francisco. Our Century City office building is certified LEED Silver from the U.S. Green Council. Our Chicago office building won the 2009 Energy Star Award and has applied for LEED certification, for which it anticipates a Gold or Platinum certification. Also, the firm was named a B Corp Champion in 2012 for its pro bono efforts in drafting and passing benefit corporation legislation across the United States.