Baker McKenzie partners Peter Tomczak and William “Widge” Devaney both have extensive experience in corporate anti-corruption matters, and often interface with boards on compliance related topics. As such, they’ve seen how ESG concerns have trickled up to the board, and how overlaps with anti-corruption mean ethics and compliance professionals in particular are well-suited to support new ESG requirements. They discussed these developments in an interview with Ethisphere editor Tyler Lawrence.

As Peter Tomczak noted, the clear trend has been that ESG is becoming a larger part of the board’s risk oversight function. Corporate compliance and legal departments play a very active role advising boards in terms of understanding ESG issues at a substantive level, and also liaising between the board and various constituencies such as institutional investors, labor, activists, and consumers about how the company is managing specific ESG risks.

Widge Devaney cautioned companies to look very carefully at the representations they make around ESG. Historically, companies could be cavalier and state something as an absolute goal when it was more aspirational. Now, legal and compliance play a big role in helping companies to identify, at the board and managerial level, what goals can be measured, what goals are aspirational, what can and cannot be said, and how companies should say it.

To read the interview in full, please click at the link below.


Peter Tomczak serves as the Chair of Baker McKenzie's North America Litigation and Government Enforcement Practice Group. Peter's principal areas of practice are corporate internal investigations, corporate compliance and complex business disputes. He has conducted internal investigations of compliance issues, including in particular under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for multinational corporations in multiple international jurisdictions. He regularly counsels clients and their boards of directors on issues of corporate compliance and corporate governance, particularly with respect to anti-corruption matters. Peter also focuses his practice on complex business disputes, primarily those involving disputes among corporate constituents and fiduciary wrongdoing, and has significant experience with claims for emergency injunctive relief and other extraordinary equitable remedies.


William (Widge) Devaney is a partner in the Firm's North America Litigation group in New York, Chair of the North American Government Enforcement Practice and Co-Chair of the Global Compliance and Investigations Group. Mr. Devaney's main areas of practice are white collar criminal defense, investigations, compliance, and complex civil litigation. He has significant trial and appellate experience, as well as significant experience leading cross-border investigations and multi-jurisdictional enforcement matters and assisting clients with corporate compliance, especially in the anti-corruption area.