Impact Finance and Investment

Investing for Social Change

Orrick is the first global law firm to establish an Impact Finance and Investment practice, leading the sector as we support investors and entrepreneurs who aim to make social and environmental impacts alongside financial returns.

Our clients include financial institutions, investors, entrepreneurs, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. 

Our Strengths

To help clients focus on impact finance and investment, we draw on our deep experience in structured finance and fund formation, to the formation and governance of for-profit social enterprises, not-for-profit organizations and hybrid entities. We also advise companies that are looking to grow with funding from impact finance investors. We have been named the #1 most innovative law firm by Financial Times from 2016-2018 and runner-up in 2019, in part for our work on behalf of our impact finance clients.

Our work in this space is complemented by our long-standing commitment to global pro bono work. Our pro bono program ranks #4 internationally and #5 in the U.S. by The American Lawyer, out of the nation’s top 200 law firms.

What We Do

We support the broad social goal of raising the quality of life for people in every part of the world. Our Impact Finance and Investment practice assists organizations working to improve conditions and outcomes across many sectors. With our clients, we help communities gain access to employment, financing, affordable housing, education, healthcare, water and sustainable ecosystems, sanitation technology, and energy.

We’ve helped clients globally make a meaningful and measurable social impact. We advised Goldman Sachs and Calvert Foundation on the nation’s first Environmental Impact Bond, issued by the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority to fund green infrastructure and help improve the District’s water quality. We assisted LeapFrog Investments Group, a profit-with-purpose investor in emerging markets, on its $180 million investment in Ghana’s largest and first publicly-listed insurer Enterprise Group. We helped Calvert Impact Capital launch Benefit Chicago, a collaboration with MacArthur Foundation and Chicago Community Trust to invest $100 million in non-profits and social enterprises working throughout the Chicago region. The capital will provide low-interest loans and other investments to accelerate the efforts of local social sector organizations working to address key priorities, such as education and child care, access to healthy food, quality affordable housing, energy conservation, job creation and training and more. And we have acted for a social change venture capital firm on its investments into entrepreneurs who share their commitment to advancing social good.

Our Team

The team is led by a dedicated Impact Finance Attorney, coordinating Orrick’s resources to field the best lawyers based on each client’s goals. This includes lawyers from our M&A and Private Equity, Finance, Energy & Infrastructure, and Technology Companies Group practices, among others, who are able to advise on investment transactions, startup needs and compliance issues. As needed, we call on a network of local counsel in countries around the world to execute each matter.

  • Below are some recent examples of our work. 

    • Environmental and Social Impact Bonds – In addition to creating the nation’s first Environmental Impact Bond, we partnered with Blue Forest Conservation to structure and finance a forest resilience pay-for-success strategy. In Richmond, California, we partnered with the Community Foundation to close the first social impact bond issue to fund the acquisition and rehabilitation of dilapidated and vacant housing in the city for sale to first-time homebuyers. Our work will help a low-income area in our own community, the Bay Area, and is a promising model for other communities.
    • Off-Grid Solar and Energy Access – We helped global solar energy leader Greenlight Planet with its Series C investment for expansion of its Africa footprint, and worked with BBOXX, a venture-backed company developing solutions to provide affordable and clean energy to off-grid communities, on its equity financings.
    • Energy & Cleantech – We assisted Anterra Capital with its investment in farm data company Farmobile, and helped farm tech company Arable with its Series A financing.
    • Education Finance and Technology – With our client Purdue Research Foundation, we launched the first public university income share program in the country. And we helped University Ventures with its investments into new student finance strategies.
    • Sustainable Food, Beverage and Ecosystems – We helped Atomico with its investment in locally-sourced online food delivery company Farmdrop.
    • Affordable Housing and Municipal Finance Innovation – We worked with Mercy Corps Northwest to pioneer an innovative investment vehicle designed to provide local residents with an investment opportunity in a neighborhood commercial property. And we helped the San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund create a public-private fund to provide bridge financing to develop and preserve affordable housing in the Bay Area.
    • Microfinance – We have structured microfinance funds for Calvert Impact Capital, and facilitated investments by Accion, an Africa-focused microfinance lender.
    • Fintech – We helped Accion with its investment in AllLife, which provides affordable life insurance for people living with HIV. And we facilitated investments into Latin American fintech companies through Startupbootcamp FinTech Mexico City.
    • Private Credit – We serve as deal counsel to MicroVest, a pioneering asset management firm that invests in financial institutions in under-banked markets around the world, which in turn extend capital to small and medium sized businesses in their communities. We helped Global Partnerships with a loan to a social enterprise providing energy access to off-grid consumers in Africa.

    Promoting the Growth of Impact Finance

    We’re partnering with leading organizations to promote the growth of Impact Finance globally, and have written extensively on the subject. We assisted the G8 Social Impact Investment Task Force in publishing its landmark report, Impact Investing: The Invisible Heart of Markets. We’re the first global law firm to become a member of the Global Impact Investing Network – a platform for like-minded investors – and the founding member of the GIIN Legal Practitioner’s Working Group.

    A global team of our lawyers assisted London-based social entrepreneurship incubator UnLtd in analyzing the current legal and regulatory systems of the G8 countries with respect to businesses that seek to distribute profits while pursuing social impact – known as “profit-with-purpose businesses” (PPBs). Our report, Balancing Purpose and Profit, is the most comprehensive survey of the legal landscape for social enterprise in all G8 countries. For our work with UnLtd, we won TrustLaw’s 2015 Impact Award for a project that “demonstrates significant, wide-ranging impact on the pro bono client, their community, and beyond.”

    We also partnered with Third Sector Capital Partners to co-author the first analysis of the legislative landscape of U.S. pay for success activities. We’ve hosted and sponsored events that bring together the impact finance community and are regularly invited to speak about impact finance around the world.