Betsy Popken

Sustainability and Human Rights Counsel

San Francisco

As Sustainability & Human Rights Counsel, Co-Founder of Orrick’s Business & Human Rights practice, and a leader of Orrick's ESG initiatives, Betsy advises clients on sustainability and human rights related risks and opportunities.  A thought leader in this space, with expertise in international human rights law, ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance), responsible tech and innovation, supply chain responsibility, and corporate social responsibility more broadly, Betsy works with clients to develop an approach that considers peer benchmarking but is tailored to their individual needs. While her practice spans sectors, Betsy has a particular passion for helping clients tackle human rights issues raised by emerging technologies.

Betsy is on the Steering Committee of the World Economic Forum's Responsible Use of Technology Initiative, and has been published on issues at the intersection of tech and human rights, including "'Human Rights By Design' Approach Can Guide Companies Developing Digital Contact Tracing Tech" in Corporate Counsel, and "Tech and Black Lives--Firms Can Mitigate Discrimination in Tech" in Bloomberg Law.  Betsy's client work and writing addresses other emerging human rights trends for businesses, as demonstrated in her articles on "Mitigating Supply Chain Risks Related to Uighur Forced Labor" in Law360 and "Human Rights and Renewable Energy" in Project Finance International.  Betsy serves as an expert speaker and moderator on issues ranging from AI and human rights to ESG and private equity. 

Betsy first honed her ability to balance high-stakes and complex legal and ethical challenges while advising parties involved in international peace negotiations in Darfur and Syria through the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), founding PILPG’s Istanbul office during the Geneva III peace talks. Today, she supports ceasefire negotiation efforts in Yemen and provides strategic direction by co-leading PILPG’s Peace Negotiation Initiative and serving as Peacebuilding League Advisor to The Shaikh Group.  Betsy trains the next generation of negotiators as a Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School, and maintains a strong foreign policy network as a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Prior to joining Orrick, Betsy worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Pacific Council on International Policy, and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

  • A representative selection of Betsy's client work includes:

    • Advised global technology company in connection with alleged child labor in their upstream supply chain
    • Advised asset management company on formation of ESG procedures
    • Advised content management platform company on hate group policy and procedures
    • Advised investment company on ESG partner and supplier code of conduct
    • Advised international human rights body on the normative standards guiding companies whose technologies are abused in conflict
    • Drafted human rights policy for a consumer telecommunications company
    • Advised energy companies in connection with forced labor representations
    • Advised AI company on AI ethics policy
    • Advised global manufacturer on CA Transparency in Supply Chains Act
    • Conducted human rights impact assessment and developed stakeholder engagement plan for social impact start-up
    • Advised social media company on matters implicating international human rights law and international criminal law
    • Conducted anti-bribery investigations for a global retail company
    • Advised bioscience company on human rights policy to address ESG gaps