2019 Update on the Law Firm Business and Human Rights Peer Learning Process

Anna Triponel and Catie Shavin | 20 March 2019

Since the 2016 workshop to discuss implementation of the law firms’ own responsibility to respect human rights, peer discussions within the Law Firm Business and Human Rights Peer Learning Process (Process) have focused on:

  • A working session in December 2017 to share updates on progress made, and explore opportunities to continue collaborating through the Process to strengthen each firm’s business and human rights-related work;
  • In-depth interviews conducted in 2018 by the Process facilitators with representatives of a range of functions at each participating firm to discuss progress made since 2016, remaining challenges and opportunities to further advance the work; and
  • A workshop in October 2018 to progress discussions on five key themes relevant for law firm’s implementation of the Guiding Principles, resulting in five confidential, in-depth insights documents for participating firms that describe current practice, lessons learned and progress achieved, as well as key challenges and current priorities. A public summary report is available here.

You will find it interesting if you work for a firm and would like to know more about:

  • Building senior-level commitment and coordination on human rights
  • Different approaches to training and capacity building
  • Identifying human rights risks during business acceptance
  • Building and exercising leverage in client relationships
  • Implementing the Modern Slavery Act


The Law Firm Business and Human Rights Peer Learning Process (the Process) was launched in 2016 to:

  1. Establish a community of practice among leading law firms and practitioners to support knowledge-sharing, peer learning, leadership and innovation, including explore ongoing challenges and areas where further progress or guidance is needed.
  2. Drive increased engagement by the legal profession with business and human rights developments, by making public information relation to emerging practices, insights and lessons learned, and by building on the leadership of the International Bar Association (IBA) and individual bar associations and law firms.
  3. Demonstrate progress to clients, bar association, professional regulators and other relevant stakeholders on efforts by the legal profession to embed respect for human rights in practice into their operations and legal advice.

Clarity regarding expectations of lawyers and law firms is increasing rapidly, in no small part due to the ongoing efforts of the IBA, bar associations and law firms. But there is still a long way to go to operationalise expectations regarding law firm respect for human rights across the profession. Participating firms believe that the Process plays an important role here to build on and maintain the momentum in the legal profession when it comes to implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

For further information about the Law Firm Business and Human Rights Peer Learning Process, see our portal hosted by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre or contact the process facilitators (Catie Shavin, catie.shavin[at]gmail.com and Anna Triponel, anna[at]triponelconsulting.com).


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