Green Guide Profile: DLA Piper


In Colombia, full-service law firm DLA Piper Martinez Beltrán has launched a dedicated environmental law and sustainable development practice, seeking to complement its demonstrable expertise in the energy transition by expanding its offering across climate change, sustainability, and ESG. 

José Miguel Mendoza, who co-leads DLA Piper’s regional ESG practice, advised renewable energy systems provider First Solar on the structuring and negotiating of an agreement to certify its products and begin operations in Colombia. The matter is crucial in expanding the renewable expertise available in the country, helping transition Colombia toward non-conventional energy. 

For energy construction group Powerchina, the firm is assisting on the permitting procedure, regulatory compliance, and execution of contracts for the development of the client’s 80 MW and 50 MW solar park projects. The firm also assisted the green transition of power generator Proelectrica, advising on the regulatory procedures necessary for grid interconnection within the structuring of the client’s 200 MW solar project. 

In a pioneering matter which supports a major Colombian electric utility in the provision of low-carbon electricity, Lucas Arboleda is acting for Air-e regarding the structuring and negotiating of an agreement with EDF Renewables for the co-development of wind-power projects, as will provide clean electricity to Air-e’s clients.  

Head of the firm’s environment and sustainable development practice Camila del Villar is advising Shell on the tax and legal structuring of its purchase of carbon offsets, consequentially supporting the financing of local forestry-based emissions removal projects.  

In a pro bono highlight for the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, the firm collaborated with DLA Piper UK to advise on best practices within domestic and international legal frameworks for preventing corruption within climate solutions. Additionally, the firm’s environmental magazine “Green Wise” provides clients pertinent information on local sustainability issues, including legislative environmental concerns and corporate best practices.


In December 2022, DLA Piper Chile received its ISO 14001 certification demonstrating its proactive commitment to sustainability and climate change mitigation. Its team provides legal counsel to both domestic and multinational clients in some of the most significant renewables deals in the country.

Santiago-based Marco Salgado co-leads the regional ESG team alongside José Miguel Mendoza in the Colombian office. Salgado, together with head of banking and finance Mauricio Halpern, advised Innergex Renewable Energy as the borrower on the structuring and execution of a $803.1m refinancing transaction through a $710m private placement green bond to fund its portfolio of wind, solar, hydro, and battery storage assets. Halpern is widely recognised for his influence in the renewables sector. 

Co-head of the firm’s Chilean energy practice, Diego Peña, leads the firm’s advice to CarbonFree Technology at all stages of the development of PV power plants. This includes due diligence in over 80 projects and acquisitions of 51 PV plants. The total portfolio is comprised of approximately 360 MW of generation capacity. Peña is also acting for SUSI Partners on the company’s entry into the Chilean market and provides key assistance with the framework agreement for the purchase, development, construction, operation and maintenance of a 243.6 MW portfolio of various renewable power plants.

The team has a demonstrable commitment to pro-bono work and supporting non-profit organisations. In 2022, pro-bono clients included Africa Dream, which promotes sustainable solutions in sub-Saharan Africa and Chile with volunteer projects, and GSG Nab Chile, a corporation promoting awareness of impact investing.

The firm is also active in thought leadership, having recently collaborated with the Financial Market Commission (CMF) and the North American Chilean Chamber of Commerce of New York for a seminar to discuss the implications of CMF’s General Rule No. 461 which requires public companies and other entities supervised by CMF to report their ESG policies, practices, and goals.

DLA Piper Latin America’s Team offers full-service business legal counsel to domestic and multinational companies with interests in and operations throughout the region. Our integrated approach to serving clients combines local knowledge with the resources of the DLA Piper global platform. With over 450 lawyers practicing throughout Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Puerto Rico, our teams frequently work with our professionals throughout the LatAm region, Iberian Peninsula, and around the globe to ensure our clients receive the depth of service they require to meet their legal and business objectives.

In 2021, the Firm established a regional Latin America practice group for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), which is led by Marco Salgado, partner based in Santiago – Chile and by José Miguel Mendoza, based in Bogotá – Colombia. The purpose of this regional practice group is to make businesses better in LatAm by helping clients and communities transition to and thrive in a more sustainable future. We understand the unique challenges and needs of each sector and deliver seamless global solutions that help our clients around the world.

Marco Salgado: Marco Salgado is the Latin America co-leader of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), and a partner in the Corporate and M&A practice group in the Santiago de Chile office. He has extensive experience advising international companies on mergers and acquisitions and corporate matters, recently leading high-profile transactions in the infrastructure and renewable energy sectors. He assists multinationals and corporate investors across various sectors, including consumer goods, infrastructure and energy.

José Miguel Mendoza: José Miguel Mendoza is the Latin America co-leader of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), and a partner in the corporate and litigation practice group in the Bogotá office. He has extensive experience in corporate law and dispute resolution. He specializes in guiding shareholders, directors and officers through the intricacies of corporate practice, with a focus on crisis management. As a judge of the specialized court of the Superintendence of Companies, he presided over hundreds of cases concerning complex corporate litigation. Later, as head of the Colombian public utilities supervisor, he successfully led the efforts to prevent an energy crisis in the country.

DLA Piper is committed to making businesses better by supporting our clients and communities on their journey to a more sustainable future. We help organizations shift to new strategies and business models, which add planetary and social benefits as well as commercial gain.

Enhancing sustainable strategies, performance and reporting and navigating the transition to a low-carbon economy must be driven by a set of clearly defined values and corporate purpose. Embedding a culture of sustainability and accountability will better equip businesses, investors, policy-makers and other stakeholders to confront the complex strategic, legal, financial and operational sustainability opportunities and change.

In 2020, DLA Piper launched a global Sustainability and Environmental, Social and Governance (SESG) portal to help companies around the world transition to and thrive in a more sustainable future. The portal provides views and insights of sustainability and ESG-related topics from thought leaders around the world.

The Sustainability and SESG portal provide direct, online access to sector-curated publications, insights and thought leadership that address the global social, environmental, governance and workplace diversity issues clients are facing. These resources are designed to guide clients through both ESG-specific risks and new market opportunities, as well as support the creation and maintenance of robust SESG programs. Examples include DLA Piper’s public company ESG handbook, SESG: the rise of private ordering and the role of the committee, and its guide for energy companies, assessing SESG Factors in the Energy Sector.

The portal is a result of DLA Piper’s globally coordinated effort to formalize its SESG client offering. It provides key contacts and sector-specific insights for clients in industries including Energy & Natural Resources; Consumer Goods, Food & Retail; Insurance; Financial Services; Life Sciences; Technology; Infrastructure, Construction & Transportation; Media, Sport & Entertainment; Real Estate; and Industrials.

DLA Piper’s global SESG Task Force is led by John Gilluly and Ann Ford in the US and by Jean-Pierre Douglas-Henry and Natasha Luther-Jones internationally.

The wide spectrum of SESG solutions that we offer is:

  • Roadmap development – reviewing the client’s approach to SESG against its peers, and local/regional/global standards, as well as reviewing the client’s vision and values against its SESG goals and materiality assessment, which highlights the range of potential SESG risks.

Current state review: reviewing current reporting and disclosure frameworks (mandatory and voluntary), including SFRD and climate risk, as well as reviewing the client’s current ESG policies.

  • Due Diligence – we offer transactional, supply chain and human rights DD, using AI to identify the most likely ESG risks a company could face and assessing their vulnerability to them.
  • Response – we can develop and help implement policies and reporting frameworks.
  • Change – at the top end of the scale, we support the implementation of the new policies and integrate a public relations strategy throughout the change journey.

Since their inception, our offices throughout Latin America have had a strong commitment to environmental and social responsibility.

What type of work do you handle in connection with “green change”?

Our integrated legal and business services help clients move from a culture of compliance to a culture of corporate governance focused on environmental and social matters, and respond to ESG’s legal changes currently happening in the region (e.g. mandatory disclosure of companies’ ESG information). We also work with clients on new strategies and business models that are better for planet, people, and purpose. We can support clients at all stages of their sustainability transition. Early on, we can help them develop roadmaps and review reporting and disclosure regulations. Next, we can help them implement policies and ensure that transactional, supply chain, and human rights due diligence is conducted with an ESG lens. ESG doesn’t exist in a silo, so we don’t treat it that way.

Would you like to highlight a particular area of strength?

We have dedicated teams that focus on specific ESG services across industries such as: corporate purpose; decarbonization and biodiversity; social equity; data, technology and cybersecurity; supply chain integrity; sustainable investments and finance; ESG disputes; and governance and reporting. For this, we leverage the strength of our local practices across the region, which have been exposed to different regulations and practices, plus a globally integrated ESG practice.

Has your firm implemented any internal best practises?

Campos Mello in cooperation with DLA Piper in Brazil (“CMA”) and DLA Piper in Chile recently received ISO 14001 certification, which allows companies to demonstrate their commitment to environmental protection through the management of environmental risks associated with their activities. International certification enables a series of benefits for our Sustainability Policy, such as the incorporation of environmental practices in the organization and management of the office, direct involvement of the entire team in environmental management and optimization of the performance of the resources used.

In addition, CMA signed the United Nations Sustainability Pact as way of demonstrating its commitment to sustainability initiatives, respect in the work environment and diversity.

DLA Piper Martinez Beltrán in Colombia launched the environmental law and sustainable development practice with a team of well-versed and experienced lawyers in SESG-related aspects such as climate change, sustainability, green labels and corporate social responsibility. Also, we promoted our practice director Camila del Villar to partner. DLA Piper in Colombia portfolio of services includes legal and public policy aspects specially designed to advise our clients in the identification and compliance of regulatory and environmental requirements, applicable to their social purpose and in the design and implementation of corporate practices based on SESG criteria and international principles.

In order to keep growing SESG practice, the team consolidated an ESG committee trough which we will keep providing to our client’s highly specialized services in the SESG area.

In addition, in Colombia we launched our first edition of the environmental magazine “Green Wise” in which it is handled several topics of interest such as the discussion regarding legislative environmental concerns in Colombia, as well as certain stories about companies that have implemented best environmental practices within their activities (such as new biodegradable products). This will allow us to provide our clients with updated and relevant information regarding groundbreaking environmental issues in Colombia.

What are your firm’s ESG-related goals?

As a leading legal provider, DLA Piper aims to provide education on ESG topics most critical to our clients. Our ESG Practice Group publishes articles, distributes newsletters, and hosts webinars related to sector-specific areas, including climate legislation, climate risk mitigation, ESG disclosure rules, ESG impacts on financial markets, diversity and inclusion, human rights, and environmental health and safety issues.

In the US, we recently published articles discussing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) new Environmental Fraud Task Force and the effect of recent European Union sustainability reporting directives on US companies. We also wrapped up our Clean Energy Tax Credit and Incentives Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Speaker Series. Additional insights on ESG issues impacting US companies are available on our ESG Topic Hub.

DLA Piper Martiآnez Beltrán, our Colombia office, regularly publishes a Spanish-language ESG magazine, Green Wise, that includes articles on environmental legal issues and sustainable development. Read more about the most recent edition on the DLA Piper Martiآnez Beltrán website.

Additionally, firm-wide leadership awareness, monitoring, and management of potential ESG impacts is regarded as essential, and as such, the leadership is fully engaged in the development of the sustainability and ESG program. DLA Piper’s Executive Committee considers risks and opportunities that have the potential to impact strategy, goals, targets, objectives, and priorities for the firm—whether an adverse local weather event near one of our offices, or an innovative new service area for our clients.

Lastly, DLA Piper strives to contribute globally to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), both within the firm and through our work supporting clients and communities.

Is your firm involved in any relevant pro bono work?

Through New Perimeter, DLA Piper’s nonprofit affiliate, the firm provides pro bono legal assistance in under-served regions around the world to support access to justice, social and economic development, and sound legal institutions. Pro bono efforts span a number of areas, from supporting asylum seekers and serving vulnerable immigrants to assisting food banks and promoting juvenile justice.

In Brazil, CMA proceeded to develop the advisory on pro bono projects as a crucial component of our purpose, we provided advice on 10 cases and projects and investing a total of more than 290 hours in pro bono activities in the year. Some of the cases worked on are an opinion on Indigenous Law, legal advice on a Climate Crisis Project case for Antigua and Barbuda, and cases for UNICEF and the Red Cross, among other selected projects and institutions that support causes related to social, health, climate and sustainability issues. Currently, partner Marcella Hill (also a member of the Empathy committee) is the pro bono coordinator in Brazil.

In Chile, we recently advised 27 pro bono cases of both individuals and non-profit organizations and 40 of the lawyers in our office performed pro bono work, including junior, midlevel, senior associates, and partners. We have advised Africa Dream, a foundation that seeks to generate sustainable solutions in sub-Saharan Africa and Chile with volunteer projects in the areas of education, health, agronomy, among others; GSG Nab Chile, a corporation that promotes awareness of impact investing; and Fundación Coordinación de Felinos Silvestres Chile, a Multidisciplinary NGO created for research, conservation, and environmental education purposes regarding native felines in Chile.

Some examples of pro bono work and initiatives in DLA Piper in Colombia are: (i) Pro bono project in collaboration with DLA Piper UK for the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics regarding domestic and international legal frameworks for combating corruption in climate solutions. (ii) Strengthening Colombian Agricultural Intellectual Property. New Perimeter conducted a country-wide audit of intellectual property related to Colombian agricultural products. The project encouraged increased export readiness and income for Colombia from the application of enhanced IP legal structures and protections for Colombian agricultural products. (iii) Supporting a Pro Bono Culture in Colombia. Through New Perimeter, lawyers from DLA Piper teach Colombian law students and practicing lawyers about legal social responsibility, the use of pro bono to address unmet legal needs and increase access to justice, and the history of pro bono in the United States and around the world.

Is your firm involved in any public outreach or client education?

DLA Piper in Chile in collaboration with the Financial Market Commission (CMF) and the North American Chilean Chamber of Commerce of New York carried out a seminar named “Preparation for the entry into force of CMF NCG 461” to discuss the implications of NCG 461, which requires public companies and other entities supervised by CMF to report their ESG policies, practices, and goals.

Have there been any recent non-confidential stand-out matters that were particularly innovative, pioneering or complex?

We can highlight 3 recent and public cases:

Campos Mello Advogados in cooperation with DLA Piper advised Banco do Brasil on the Brazil’s very first issuance of Senior Unsecured Green Bonds by a Brazilian financial institution, worth US$500 million.

DLA Piper in Chile advised Innergex Renewable Energy Inc., as borrower, on the structuring and execution of a US$ 803.1 million refinancing transaction for its portfolio of assets in Chile, through a US$710 million private placement green bond -expiring in 2036- and a US$93.1 million credit agreement. This deal has been awarded with more than 5 Deal of the Year Awards during 2023, including, PFI Awards, Latin Lawyer, Proximo, among others.

DLA Piper Martínez Beltrán (Bogotá) advised Banco de Bogotá in the issuance of $230 million in subordinated sustainable bonds, marking the first instance of such papers in Colombia’s international market. This transaction, closed on March 24th under New York law, involved co-investors such as BID Invest, Findev Canada, Finance In Motion, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The funds raised will support specific projects for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), women-led enterprises, social housing, and initiatives related to climate change, including green buildings, renewable energy, energy efficiency, circular economy, and sustainable agriculture.

When did ESG, climate change and/or sustainability become an area of focus at your firm?

In November 2020, DLA Piper launched a global Sustainability and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) portal to help companies around the world transition to and thrive in a more sustainable future. The portal provides views and insights of sustainability and ESG-related topics from thought leaders around the world.

The portal is a result of DLA Piper’s globally coordinated effort to formalize its sustainability and ESG client offering. It provides key contacts and sector-specific insights for clients in industries including Energy and Natural Resources; Consumer Goods, Food and Retail; Insurance; Financial Services; Life Sciences; Technology; Infrastructure, Construction and Transport; Media, Sport and Entertainment; Real Estate; and Industrials.

What has driven your firm’s involvement in a green transition? (Client demand? Business case? Personal attitudes/beliefs/initiatives?)

Our firm’s deep involvement in a green transition is driven by various factors. Undoubtedly, client demand has been a significant driver. However, beyond that, our philosophy inherently aligns with the imperative -yet progressive and reasonable- shift towards sustainable practices. We also consider that our team’s strong beliefs and initiatives towards environmental and social stewardship have been pivotal in shaping our commitment.

Moreover, the evolving landscape of governmental policies has played a crucial role. There is a noticeable global trend towards implementing policies and regulations that incentivize decarbonization of economies and foster cleaner, circular economy practices. This convergence of client needs, our intrinsic values, and the wider socio-political environment propels our unwavering dedication to facilitating and advocating for sustainable legal solutions.

Do you have any strategic plans to expand your work or your initiatives in this area in the future?

Yes. Our vision for the upcoming year involves a dual focus. We aim to further deepen our technical expertise while leveraging our robust legal knowledge base within the Firm. This entails not only strengthening our practices within each office but also fostering regional collaborations. Additionally, we are committed to solidifying our existing commercial partnerships with top experts and technical enterprises in this field.

Our strategic plan involves a concerted effort to expand our footprint by nurturing alliances and bolstering our capabilities across regions. Thus, we are dedicated to capitalizing on our legal expertise and technical expertise to drive forward-thinking initiatives, consistent with our dedication to sustainable principles and our focus on client-driven solutions.

Where do you see the future of ESG/sustainability in the legal community (both in terms of legal offerings and firms’ best practises)?

We consider that the legal services related to ESG and sustainability in the legal community should progressively evolve towards a more holistic perspective, where various disciplines and techniques converge to address these multidimensional challenges. Embracing a holistic approach is paramount as these issues transcend singular viewpoints, requiring comprehensive solutions that integrate legal, financial, and corporate aspects.

Moreover, the trajectory of ESG indicates a shift from voluntary practices towards obligatory legal duties. Indeed, we consider it is inevitable that these issues will move beyond voluntary compliance to legal obligations. Thus, it is crucial for firms to support clients in navigating this transition holistically, aligning legal strategies with these emerging mandatory frameworks.

Finally, it is also worth noting that in this evolving landscape, legal firms will not only be assessed and ranked based on legal quality and client treatment but also on their adherence to best practices and their commitment to ESG and the UN’s SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). This shift reflects the growing importance of integrating sustainability principles into core business practices and legal offerings.