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Selangor Bar Council Talk – The New Frontier: Demystifying ESG for Future Legal Leaders

Monday, 29 January 2024

Jia Yaw was invited back to the Selangor Bar to give a talk on the topic of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG). He presented on how lawyers should navigate the ESG landscape and why it is important to proactively do so.

Jia Yaw started his presentation with a quick introduction on the concept of ESG and ESG developments seen in Malaysia in recent years. He highlighted how the definition was intentionally created to be vague, so that it can encompass and grow to fit more than a narrow perspective. He suggests that to effectively and meaningfully implement an ESG lens, we should think of ESG as a spectrum of stakeholder expectations instead of a black and white end goal.

This perspective fits into a more collaborative approach that goes beyond mere compliance of hard and soft laws. Jia Yaw recommends that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals should be the North Star for lawyers to guide their ESG practices. For example, SDG 16 peace, justice and strong institutions is especially important and relevant to the legal profession.

Jia Yaw shared that the exponential growth of ESG requirements has impacted legal practice in terms of having new client expectations and aspirations. It is a known fact that ESG-driven businesses are more competitive and experience more benefits. For instance, access to markets and finance, as well as stronger employee retention (especially for younger and more socially conscious generations). Thus, he encourages lawyers and other legal professionals to take leadership in this paradigm shift and stay ahead of the “unconverted”.

About 40 lawyers ranging from pupils-in-chamber to well-established professionals attended the talk held at the Selangor Bar auditorium.


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