Juno Learning ESG drivers for in-house lawyers
ESG explorers (L-R): Natasha Strong, Rachel Plieger, Alistair McMechan, Shami Sherear

The rising importance of ESG: Rachel Plieger opened the webinar by stressing the growing relevance of ESG, which encompasses environmental concerns, social responsibility, and governance practices. She emphasised how ESG now shapes business strategies, extending beyond traditional legal compliance to include broader ethical considerations. This paradigm shift is redefining the role of in-house lawyers, making them central to guiding their organisations through ESG-related challenges.

Explorers and experts

The panel, including Alistair McMechan from Pāmu Landcorp Farming, Shami Shearer of AIA New Zealand, and Natasha Strong of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust, offered diverse perspectives on integrating ESG into business models.

  • Alistair McMechan spoke about the agriculture sector's efforts to align with ESG goals. He discussed Pāmu Landcorp Farming initiatives to balance sustainable farming practices with profitability, highlighting the complexities of complying with evolving environmental regulations.

  • Shami Shearer provided an insurance industry viewpoint, focusing on how AIA New Zealand incorporates ESG principles into its business. She detailed the challenges of aligning corporate strategies with ESG standards, and gave some clear examples of positive alignment in the life insurance industry.
  • Natasha Strong brought an iwi organisation perspective from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust, discussing how te ao Māori values are closely aligned to sound ESG strategy. She emphasised the importance of viewing ESG through a cultural lens, ensuring that practices are not just compliant but also respectful of traditions and values.

Legal implications and challenges

The webinar delved into the legal implications of ESG, with panelists discussing the necessity for in-house lawyers to stay ahead of the curve in understanding ESG-related laws and regulations. They underscored the importance of the role of the lawyer in understanding new laws and existing laws in light of new risks, updating contracts to reflect ESG priorities or shape relationships and managing  potential conflicts.

Balancing ESG with commercial interests

A key theme of the discussion was the balance between ESG objectives and commercial interests. The panelists shared their experiences in addressing this challenge, noting the need for strategic decision-making and strong communication around ESG strategy.

ESG and stakeholder engagement

 The webinar highlighted the critical role of stakeholder engagement in ESG implementation. Panelists agreed that effective communication and transparency with stakeholders – from investors and consumers to employees and the wider community – are essential. They discussed how maintaining a social license, or societal acceptance, is crucial for businesses and how ESG practices can enhance or damage this license.

The future of ESG for lawyers

As the session concluded, the panelists reflected on the future of ESG in business. They anticipated an increase in ESG-related regulations and a greater emphasis on companies to disclose their ESG practices. The discussion acknowledged that while the journey towards full ESG integration is complex, it is an inevitable and vital aspect of modern corporate governance.


Ngā mihi maioha to Alistair, Shami and Natasha for their generosity of time and experience discussing this topic with the in-house community. It has been so valuable to learn from others about the role of ESG for in-house lawyers and its growing influence in shaping business ethics, strategies, and legal practices. It's becoming clearer that ESG principles are no longer optional but fundamental to successful and responsible business operations.

Did you miss this webinar and want to catch up? Not to worry, you can WATCH A RECORDING OF THE WEBINAR HERE