We, the undersigned law students and new lawyers, pledge to boycott Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in response to the firm’s work shielding corporate polluters from climate accountability, its racist legal attacks against Indigenous communities, and the persecution of human rights lawyer Steven Donziger, whose imprisonment is a direct result of Gibson Dunn’s unethical and bullying litigation strategies.
Gibson Dunn has consistently advanced the interests of corporations that cause immense harm to the climate and frontline communities, particularly Indigenous communities. The 2021 Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard by Law Students for Climate Accountability (LSCA) found that Gibson Dunn conducted the second most anti-climate litigation of any law firm. Gibson Dunn has represented Dakota Access despite significant environmental impacts and its incursion on sacred Sioux land, and it currently represents a plaintiff in Brackeen v. Haaland, a lawsuit seeking to strike down the Indian Child Welfare Act, a vital law protecting against the removal of American Indian children from their communities.
Likewise, Gibson Dunn has aggressively litigated to ensure that Chevron evades liability for dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste that did irreversible environmental damage and caused widespread cancer and birth defects among Indigenous and campesino communities in Ecuador. Tens of thousands of Ecuadorians brought suit and were awarded a $9.5 billion dollar judgment to fund cleanup of the pollution; rather than pay it, Chevron has used Gibson Dunn to to demonize Steven Donzinger, the attorney representing these plaintiffs. Gibson Dunn helped mastermind a wholly unprecedented campaign of coercion, bribery, and persecution against Mr. Donziger. For the “crime” of refusing to endanger vulnerable environmental activists in Ecuador by handing over to Chevron years of sensitive communications with his clients, Mr. Donziger was kept under house arrest for two years — an act the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights decried as illegal under international law — and was recently sentenced to six months imprisonment. He surrendered himself on October 27.
These scorched-earth tactics are not new to Gibson Dunn, which has been fined by the Montana Supreme Court for “legal thuggery” and “blatantly and maliciously trying to intimidate” its opponents. A New York federal judge sanctioned the firm for “unacceptable shenanigans,” and a California federal judge found Gibson Dunn’s misconduct to be “a product of a culture which permeates” the firm. But Gibson Dunn’s extraordinary campaign to prevent Indigenous Ecuadorians from receiving relief by attacking Mr. Donziger represents a dangerous escalation of these tactics, and a tremendous threat to all future environmental plaintiffs and their advocates.
Last spring, in a letter signed by 87 law student organizations from dozens of law schools across the country, LSCA called on Gibson Dunn to commit to an ethical standard for its fossil fuel work. These student organizations have yet to receive a response. We reiterate their call.
As the newest generation to enter the legal profession, we refuse to be a part of Gibson Dunn’s work undermining access to justice, particularly for Indigenous communities. And we refuse to contribute to a firm that is doing so much to exacerbate a climate crisis that threatens every one of us with an unlivable future.
The undersigned law students and new lawyers: