We’re thrilled today to help support the official launch of the Law Firm Sustainability Network!

Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP is proud to announce our involvement with the new Law Firm Sustainability Network (LFSN). The firm will serve on the Leadership Council of the nonprofit organization, and Executive Director Gina Maciula has been appointed treasurer of the Board of Directors. The Leadership Council, comprised of eight law firms, will act as an advisory committee to the Board of Directors and provide input on strategy and initiatives.

Law Firm Sustainability Network logoThe LFSN is a nonprofit organization of law firms and legal departments committed to promoting the benefits of environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility throughout the legal industry. Its mission is to develop key performance indicators, foster knowledge-sharing, develop best practice guidelines and recognize and promote sustainability innovations in the U.S. legal sector. For more on the organization’s initiatives and programs, see the launch announcement press release.

Wendel Rosen has long been a pioneering law firm when it comes to adopting and promoting sustainable business practices in the profession. In 2003, we became the first law firm in the country certified as a green business (certification conducted by the Bay Area Green Business Program) and launched our Green Business Practice Group. In addition, the firm co-chaired the effort to write and pass California’s Benefit Corporation Law (AB361) and has been a Certified B Corporation since 2010. Our attorneys and executives regularly speak and write to business audiences regarding the pursuit of a sustainable business operation.

Gina Maciula, Executive Director, Wendel Rosen

Gina Maciula, Executive Director, Wendel Rosen

“We have been a certified green business, and the first law firm in the country to do so, for a decade, and have since been working very hard to educate the industry on the benefits of sustainable business practices,” said Maciula. “We are proud of how far law firm ‘greening’ has come – a defining element of corporate social responsibility – and applaud the industry collaboration to form LFSN. I’m very excited to serve on the governing board of this organization and formally come together with like-minded peers to keep sustainability at the forefront of consideration for law firms.”

In Episode 101 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 29, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-host of The Wendel Forum and co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group and co-host of The Wendel Forum (did you get all that?).

Bill Acevedo

Bill Acevedo

In 2008, when Acevedo became chair of the law firm’s Green/Sustainable Business Practice Group, he wanted to take the group from start-up mode to an established business mode. The group was founded in 2003, around the time Wendel Rosen became the first law firm in the country to be certified as a green business. By 2008, the sustainable business space was really heating up. As practice leader, Acevedo’s challenge was to understand the paths and different focuses of various partners in the group and to demonstrate to clients the firm’s commitment to the space.  He did outreach to explain what it meant to be a green law firm and to let clients know the partners in the group shared the passion and ideology of the people and companies they represented.

Even when the economy suffered a setback, the sustainable and organic companies represented by Wendel continued to thrive. Today, the biggest challenge for these companies remains access to capital. As natural products companies want to become more mainstream, they need to scale. And to scale, they need more capital.  Experienced legal counsel can help with funding options.

Acevedo’s favorite Wendel Forum shows have been those focusing on surfing companies and organic food companies. With a longtime interest in the health of the ocean and in natural foods, the show has been a great way to marry Acevedo’s work and personal passions.

What was your favorite episode of The Wendel Forum?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Acevedo:  Episode 101 of The Wendel Forum (26:06 mins; mp3)

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 100 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 22, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Dick Lyons, co-host of the Wendel Forum and co-founder of Wendel’s sustainable business practice group.

Richard Lyons, co-host of The Wendel Forum and Wendel Rosen Green Business Attorney

Richard Lyons, co-host of The Wendel Forum and Wendel Rosen Green Business Attorney

In the early 1980’s, Lyons was practicing business law when he worked on one of the early wind power projects in the Altamont Pass.  Since that time, he has continued to work on wind power projects and has worked with solar power companies too.  Before long, he began to hear about the business activity related to natural and organic products.  He attended his first Expo West – the trade show devoted to natural and organic products – in the 1990’s.

“I was amazed by the number of companies, the different types of foods and the overall energy of the people,” he recalls. The natural products industry expanded even more with the creation of Whole Foods, which retailed natural products across the nation.  Since then, he’s represented many natural foods companies, including United Natural Foods Inc., which is now a $5 billion company thanks in part to mergers and acquisitions that Lyons worked on.

Around the same time, Lyons wanted to create a cohesive law firm practice group that would focus on representing companies that benefited the environment. As co-founder of Wendel’s sustainable business practice group, he also wanted to incorporate sustainable practices into the law firm itself.  Together with his co-founders, he was able to convince his partners that recycling and energy saving measures were also good business.

Sustainable business start-ups face many of the same issues as new companies in other industries, but they often have specialized concerns, according to Lyons.  For example, if the product is certified organic, there may be supply chain issues.  In addition, these companies are often formed not just to make a profit but also to achieve larger social goals such as having positive effect on the environment and their community.  They also need capital from investors that have the same social values and expectations about the return on investment.

From co-hosting The Wendel Forum radio show, Lyons (who, incidentally, played and recorded the Forum’s intro and outro music) learned that people start sustainable companies for one or more of the following reasons: they had an epiphany related to sustainability, they wanted healthy products for themselves that they couldn’t find, or they wanted to benefit the environment and the community.

We’d love it if you would share your favorite Wendel Forum moment with us. What was your favorite interview with Dick as host?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Lyons: Episode 100 of The Wendel Forum (27:52 mins; mp3)

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Wendel Rosen’s Sustainable/Green Business Practice Group: http://www.wendel.com/greenbusiness  

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

Dick Lyons’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

In Episode 99 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 15, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Jason Wolf, CEO of Collaboratev, which provides seamless interoperability and clearing among multiple electric vehicle charging networks.  The Collaboratev service will allow EV drivers to charge anywhere and receive a single bill.

Jason Wolf, CEO of Collaboratev

Jason Wolf, CEO of Collaboratev

There are now 100,000 plug-in vehicles in the US.  Although that number is small compared to regular cars sold, it’s an important milestone.  Not surprisingly, early adopters are looking for more charging options, according to Wolf.

Collaboratev is working towards building a seamless transactional experience for EV users by which they will be able to recharge their vehicles at any station regardless of where they are or what charging network they belong to.  The company allows EV drivers to use a single authentication credential, which generates one monthly bill, thereby opening up any charging station for use by EV drivers.

Like the corner gas station using pumps that accept credit cards, Collaboratev envisions corner charging stations that accept its payment system.  Benefits include removing the need for multiple memberships, alleviating range anxiety, and allowing long-distance travel among multiple EV charging networks.

Although talks are in their initial stages, it is envisioned that each charging station, which will be owned and operated by independent charging network operators, will have different characteristics – coffee bars, retailer shops, media and even gasoline, all of which are intended to enhance the EV user’s experience while recharging his or her vehicle.

Will more charging stations and a seamless payment system inspire you to purchase an electric vehicle?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Jason Wolf: Episode 99 of The Wendel Forum (27:42 mins; mp3)

Collaboratev website: http://www.collaboratev.com/about.php

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 97 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on May 18, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Santiago Cuenca-Romero, CEO of Premiere Organics, maker of Artisana Organic brand foods.

Santiago Cuenca-Romero, CEO of Premiere Organics

Santiago Cuenca-Romero, CEO of Premiere Organics

Founded 10 years ago, Artisana makes organic, raw foods such as ground and spreadable nuts and seeds.  Organic refers to the way the ingredients are grown; raw, though it has no regulatory definition, refers to the way a product is cooked and processed.  In particular, Artisana cooks its products at the lowest possible temperature because heat can alter nutritional qualities as well as colors and taste.  Available in jars and pouches, Artisana’s spreads include almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, cashews and walnuts, sunflower seeds, coconut products and superfoods like berries and powders made from roots and leaves.

Cuenca-Romero grew up in Spain appreciating good food.  He has a biochemistry degree and a master’s in food science.  Although he has no formal business, finance or economics training, his father served as a colonel in the Spanish army in charge of 5,000 officers.  As a result, leadership, he says, is in his genes.

What’s trending in food now, according to Cuenca-Romero, is a focus on allergens, gluten-free and dairy-free products, as well as an interest in superfoods, antioxidant and omega 3’s.

When grocery shopping, do you seek out raw, organic foods?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Cuenca-Romero: Episode 97 of The Wendel Forum  (27:38 mins; mp3)

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Premiere Organics website: http://artisanafoods.com

Dick Lyons’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

In Episode 96 of The Wendel Forum  (originally aired on April 27, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Terry Hunt, CEO of Wild Planet Foods, which supplies sustainably caught seafood.

 Terry Hunt, CEO of Wild Planet Foods

Terry Hunt, CEO of Wild Planet Foods

In 2000, William Carvalho, the founder of Wild Planet Foods, attended a presentation about overharvesting at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  According to Hunt, Carvalho had an epiphany then, deciding he wanted to help conserve wild marine ecosystems.  He vowed to never again source or sell fish from an unsustainable fishery.  Today, the company’s albacore tuna, its primary product, is sourced internationally only from sustainable fisheries.

For Wild Planet Foods, being “sustainably caught” is a high hurdle.  Specifically, the bycatch must be close to zero. That is, the company works only with fisheries that “poll and troll” – using one pole to catch one fish, as opposed to long lining.  Also, the fishery’s catch method must not damage the marine ecosystem, and the local fish population must not be under stress or in decline.  Following these principles, Wild Planet Food is rated green by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

In addition to serving as CEO of Wild Planet Foods, Hunt is also the founder of Preserve Capital Group.  The boutique investment company’s mission is to provide funding advice for businesses launching a new product.  Hunt works with them to build a business and sales plan.  Past Preserve Capital companies include CleanFish, supplier of high-end sustainable seafood, and SunSpire, maker of natural, handmade confections.

Does sustainability matter to you in purchasing seafood?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Hunt: Episode 96 of The Wendel Forum (27:42 mins; mp3)

Wild Planet Foods Website: http://www.wildplanetfoods.com

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Website:  http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx

Preserve Capital Group Website: http://preservecap.com

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

 

In Episode 95 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on April 13, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Deven Clemens and Gregg Bagni, directors of White Road Investments.

Deven Clemens of White Road Investments

Deven Clemens of White Road Investments

Founded in 2008, White Road Investments is venture capital firm backed by several current and former executives of Clif Bar.  (Clemens is senior director of corporate finance at Clif Bar.  Bagni is president of Alien Truth Communications and former marketing vice president at Schwinn Cycling & Fitness.)  The company invests in health and active lifestyle businesses, including consumer products and outdoor companies.

Clif Bar is motivated not just by financial return but by a five-pronged philosophy, which is to promote the sustainability of its planet, community, people, business and brands. That same philosophy applies to White Road Investments. Clemens and Bagni are specifically looking to fund companies that are mission-driven and that will have a positive impact on the environment and community. The directors want to work alongside entrepreneurs who are eager to learn, grow and do more good. In particular, they’re interested in investing in new categories and new products. For example, they’ve funded a dehydrated pet food company. Currently popular categories in the health space include gluten-free products, plant-based proteins, raw foods, minimal-ingredient foods and bike businesses in urban markets.

In particular, White Road Investments funds with companies with $1 million to $25 million in revenue, with a particular focus on those in the $2 million to 7 million range. An investment can range from $750,000 to $2 million with $1 million being the sweet spot.

The company’s directors want to get deeply involved in the companies in which they invest, beyond simply a quarterly check-in. Realizing that great businesses may take awhile to succeed, the focus of White Road Investments is longer term than most VC firms. In addition to funds, White Road Investments offers companies its expertise, including marketing, operations, strategy, finance, branding and sales advice, as well as “connective capital,” the ability to provide connections from its directors’ longstanding business relationships. White Road Investments also offers the resources of Clif Bar, including the ability to test new products with Clif Bar consumers, who are usually the perfect target demographic.

What new healthy products do you predict to emerge?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Clemens and Bagni: Episode 95 of The Wendel Forum  (27:30 mins; mp3)

White Road Investments Website: http://www.whiteroadinvestments.com

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons’ online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 369 other followers