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Law Students Fault Gibson Dunn for Dakota Pipeline, Chevron Work

April 7, 2021, 10:00 AM

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher should set an ethical standard for representing fossil fuel companies, a student law group said Wednesday, citing the firm’s work on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The firm’s work has caused “immense harm to the climate and marginalized communities, particularly indigenous communities,” Law Students for Climate Accountability said in a letter to Gibson Dunn.

The group, which represents students from 50 campuses, also cited the firm’s work for Chevron Corp. related to exploration activities in Ecuador.

The student group’s stand on Gibson Dunn comes just ahead of an April 9 federal judicial hearing on whether Energy Transfer LP’s Dakota pipeline should be allowed to continue operating with a lapsed easement.

A Gibson Dunn spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The firm on its website says its oil and gas practice “advises exploration and production companies” and others “in complex transactions across the oil and gas sector.”

The student group’s 2020 Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard found that Gibson Dunn conducted the second most anti-climate litigation of any law firm with its representation of oil and gas exploration, development and production companies.

“It’s unacceptable that a supposedly prestigious firm like Gibson Dunn has no standard guiding its fossil fuel work other than profit,” said Jeremy Kemp, a University of Virginia School of Law student, and member of the group.

In early 2020, a group of students from several top law schools criticized Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison for representing Exxon Mobil Corp. That campaign, targeting the firm’s campus recruiting, led to the founding of the Law Students for Climate Accountability and the scorecard where Paul Weiss and Gibson Dunn each received an “F.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Olson at
To contact the editor on this story: Chris Opfer at;
John Hughes at