Top of mind for specialist lawyer Rui Lopes when he opened the firm Lopes Attorneys Inc, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, two years ago, was what would set his practice apart from other law companies operating in an already saturated market.
The answer was to move in the direction of a boutique law firm, one in which he would specialise in areas such as ESG compliance, anti-bribery and corruption, data protection, dispute resolutions, a specific sectoral focus in pharmaceuticals, health care, cannabis, finance, and an area not many law firms cover – animal welfare.
Lopes points out that there are very few firms in the country that know about animal welfare being a subset of the law, let alone which practise it. That sparked his journey around a realisation that there is a need for such a specialisation, and this became one of the firm’s hallmarks.
The enlightening discussion on animal welfare and why everyone should pay attention to the law, is a theme that runs throughout the podcast between Lopes and Pearson.
The conversation subsequently steers towards environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, another of the firm’s specialities.
Lopes says it is important to ensure that we look after the environment as we shift towards a just transition from a climate change perspective, by making sure that we conserve our world and prevent biological or ecological degradation.
“We need to ask ourselves the question: Why should we care if a company or an organisation is conducting itself in an environmentally friendly or sustainable way? The simple answer to that question is: What is the impact of what we’ve done today going to be? It's not only about now and today. It’s about next year, in five years and in 20 years’ time.”
He cautions against organisations that are not ESG compliant, saying they face the risk of not being included in the “ESG economy”.
Lopes also shares his vision for the firm, which includes having an international footprint. “What I see in the next three to five years is an expansion of our office in Cape Town. We’re currently in discussions with a number of firms across Africa, in creating a network of go-to firms that resonate and are in sync with the service offering that we do.”
Click here to listen to the full podcast on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Amazon Music.
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