Grunin Center/IILWG Conference Goes from Strength to Strength

‘Legal Issues in Social Entreprenuership and Impact Investing - in the US and Beyond’

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By ESELA Posted 26/07/2018

On 5-6 June 2018, the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship at NYU School of Law, in partnership with the Impact Investing Legal Working Group, held its annual conference on ‘Legal Issues in Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing – in the US and Beyond’.

ESELA was delighted to support the promotion of the conference and a number of ESELA members travelled to the New York to attend and take part in a wide variety of panels and sessions and to help provide a truly international perspective.

The conference, held in collaboration with the Impact Investing Legal Working Group, focused on five major themes:

  • Policy and regulation of impact investing and social entrepreneurship
  • Blending and scaling capital
  • Building investment-ready social enterprises
  • Embedding impact into deal structures
  • Mainstreaming impact
  • People’s choice (a variety of topics reflecting conference participants’ suggestions)

Each theme was in turn explored in three to four separate panels during the conference. While there was a natural US focus to many of the discussions given the location, the session were very much designed to be accessible to and were enriched by an impressive array of attendees from around the world. In fact, many participants travelled great distances to join and speak at the conference (from as far as Australia, Argentina and the Netherlands), solidifying the global reach of the gathering.

This year’s conference also included the launch of the Grunin Prize for Social Entrepreneurship, an award that seeks to recognize the critical role that lawyers play in designing, implementing and advancing social entrepreneurial solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.  Applications came in from around the globe (meet the finalists here). The winner of the inaugural Grunin Prize was a new investment product called “Performance Aligned Stock” developed by the law firm Womble Bond Dickinson as an equity structure for socially responsible enterprises that allows investment without entrepreneurs being forced into an untimely exit.

The scale and success of the conference, which attracted approximately 320 delegates, including many of the most significant institutions and experienced legal practitioners in the fields of social entrepreneurship and impact investing in the US, is a testament to how these fields of practice are growing and flourishing.

There is a now growing sense in which different communities and networks of impact driven lawyers around the world are forming a larger international community and movement of lawyers who are focused on creating positive impact. The Grunin Center, under the visionary leadership of its Faculty Co-Directors, Deborah Burand and Helen Scott, is playing a key role in catalysing these developments.

If you would like to find out more about the Grunin Center and its work, please contact Carolina Henriquez-Schmitz, the Executive Director of the Grunin Center, at or visit the Grunin Center site here. Also, please be sure to save the date for their next annual conference, which will be held on 4-5 June 2019.


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