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Paul, Weiss Hosts Webinar on What’s Next for Businesses Under the Biden Administration

Paul, Weiss hosted a webinar, “The Biden Administration: What’s Next for Businesses,” highlighting the emerging regulatory enforcement priorities of the new administration and ways that corporate America can prepare. The event, which drew roughly 500 attendees, featured firm Chairman Brad Karp; three partners who served in the White House or in other top government roles: Jeh Johnson, Loretta Lynch and Karen Dunn; and Corporate Department Chair Scott Barshay. The firm’s Chief Sustainability and ESG Officer David Curran moderated the discussion.

The regulatory enforcement picture is likely to shift dramatically toward more aggressive enforcement, with greater collaboration across agencies and with their counterparts in other countries, panelists noted. “Our expectation is key regulatory and enforcement appointees are likely to be more aggressive than officials currently in place,” Brad said. Panelists also expect increasing coordination and cooperation between state attorneys general and the Department of Justice. On the flip side, there may be more contested enforcement actions. “Companies will be looking for test cases to see where boundaries are,” Karen said.

Biden’s selections for top posts suggest a heightened attention across the federal government and regulatory agencies on racial justice and income inequality and a sharper focus on disclosures across the ESG spectrum, panelists agreed. “This is the time for a belt-and-suspenders approach on disclosure issues,” Loretta noted. “Apply the same rigorous standards on compliance and scrutiny to those [social equity] disclosures as to standard disclosures you’ve been doing for years. You will be favorably looked on by regulators when they come to call.”

As more activists are becoming disenchanted with the political process, “they’re turning their attention to corporate America through ESG,” noted Secretary Johnson. “ESG needs to become part of deliberations of every senior leadership team at every large public company.”

But panelists agreed that the return to stability and competent leadership are reasons for optimism. “There is a sense in corporate America that you know what a ball and what a strike is again,” Scott said. “There is much less volatility in government, and that’s something executives and board members are happy about.”

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