US: Yale students join Harvard peers in climate protests targeting Paul, Weiss

Environmentalists at Yale Law School have joined peers at Harvard Law School in a campaign targeting recruitment events for Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP until the international law firm drops ExxonMobil as a client.

The firm, which employs over 1,000 lawyers, has successfully defended the multinational oil and gas company in some of the largest environmental damages cases ever heard in the US.

ExxonMobil is also involved in ongoing litigation, brought by the Conservation Law Foundation, concerning allegations that it misled the government and the public about climate change.

Harvard students disrupted a Paul, Weiss recruitment evening at an upscale restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts in January, unfurling a banner reading “#DropExxon” and chanting over the firm’s speakers.

Around 40 students at Yale yesterday took part in a similar protest targeting a Paul, Weiss recruitment reception, and have since appealed for students at other US law schools to join in.

Carly Margolis, who organised the Harvard protest, said: “If the partners at Paul, Weiss thought the Harvard student protest was a one-time aberration, they could not be more wrong.

“Firms that choose to profit from climate destruction should expect to see more and more students raise their voices against reckless complicity.”

Tim Hirschel-Burns, a first-year law student at Yale, added: “In the 1980s, a coalition of law students joined forces to boycott firms representing the South African apartheid regime.

“In 2018, a law student boycott led Kirkland Ellis, the largest law firm in the world, to stop forcing employees into coercive arbitration agreements.

“As law students in an era of climate crisis, we have a responsibility to use our collective power too.”

In a statement, Paul, Weiss chairman Brad Karp told Bloomberg Law: “We are proud of the outstanding work we do for a wide range of commercial and pro bono clients in their most challenging and high-profile matters, including our recent defence of ExxonMobil in a securities fraud case in which the court found, after trial, that plaintiff’s claims were entirely without merit.

“Paul, Weiss is committed to free speech and debate, just as we are committed to the principle that we represent our clients and safeguard the rule of law zealously and to the best of our abilities.”

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