Ethical investor Sustainable Development Capital LLP (SDCL) has appointed six firms to its inaugural legal panel, with Muckle and Walker Morris among those winning a spot.
SDCL was launched in 2007 as a boutique investment firm offering advisory services to the investment sector. It advises financial institutions, governments and corporations on the creation of sustainable investment vehicles as well as raising finance for sustainable development projects.
SDCL’s panel review process was led by its legal and commercial director, Chris Garside. Some firms were approached to pitch for spots on the line-up, including Bird & Bird, which has advised the fund in the past. Others, like Bevan Brittan, contacted Garside independently.
Garside’s criteria included reasonable fees and added value extras but he also took into account sector specialisms, regional experience and project management ability. On top of that he earmarked firms demonstrating enthusiasm for sustainable energy and those “ready to get intellectually stuck in”.
He said: “We made a point of choosing people we thought were good at deal making and have experience in the sector. Whilst there are many firms with experience in broader renewables, there are far fewer with experience in demand side management and energy efficiency.”
In line with a growing trend towards collaboration, Garside intends his six chosen panel firms to work together closely.
He added: “It wasn’t simply a case of putting a panel together. We want to make sure the firms act together and build a bigger pool of legal knowledge.”
This could include fee-earners from relevant firms collaborating to solve problems for investors and sharing precedents. It is also hoped that SDCL will be able to recommend its panel firms to investors and other clients, as long as they don’t fall foul of any conflicts.
“Some other businesses claim that their panel firms work together, but they don’t work as well as they could,” Garside said.
The panel length is open-ended, although SDCL is set to hold quarterly reviews. These will assess issues including whether their relevant fee-earner contacts are still at the firm and whether they are actively developing projects with SDCL. It will also take into account cost-effectiveness and whether any other firms are keen to be added to the panel.
Garside became SDCL’s sole in-house lawyer in November 2013, having previously spent stints working at DAC Beachcroft, McCormicks, and Eversheds.
In 2012, SDCL was awarded a £50m mandate by the government-funded Green Investment Bank to invest in energy efficient infrastructure projects in the UK via its Energy Efficiency Investments fund.
In February, the Green Investment Bank launched its own inaugural legal panel, appointing ten firms including Linklaters, Slaughter and May, Allen & Overy, King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin and Shepherd & Wedderburn (28 February 2014).