For Immediate Release | March 7, 2022

License to Spill

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher Exposed in New Report: How a Notorious Law Firm Enables Corporate Exploitation

For more information, contact:

Paul Paz y Miño, Amazon Watch at +1-510-773-4635 or
Connor Gibson, Grassrootbeer Investigations at +1-510-871-3652 or

Washington, D.C. – A new report, “Unacceptable Shenanigans” – How Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher Enables Corporate Exploitation, endorsed by ten national and international organizations, exposes how the notorious Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher (GDC) law firm abets human rights violations by multinational corporations the world over. While everybody deserves a lawyer, GDC consistently profits from wealthy people and companies that engage in negligent and vindictive behavior. Instead of using the legal system for good, GDC uses the courts as an arena for corporate activism.

From Indigenous sovereignty to labor rights, GDC has shown time and time again that they are on the side of the biggest paychecks, billionaires, oil and mining companies, and other powerful entities and individuals. This has come at the expense of workers, Indigenous communities, underserved communities, and ecosystems worldwide.

Organizations endorsing the report include Amazon Watch, Civil Liberties Defense Center, Law Students for Climate Accountability, Mosquito Fleet, National Lawyers Guild, Oil and Gas Action Network, People’s Parity Project, Direct Action Everywhere, Portland Rising Tide, and Rainforest Action Network.

Examples detailed in the new report:

  • Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher was brought in to rescue Chevron from liability for its oil pollution after multiple losses in the courts of Ecuador, over many years of litigation.
  • On a pro bono basis, GDC is working to undermine the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
  • GDC attorneys helped establish the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which has polluted U.S. politics with unlimited dark money.
  • New York City’s wealthiest residents & landlords routinely hire GDC to fight housing shelters, COVID shelters, and policies that assist low-income renters.
  • Large companies retain GDC to quash employee discrimination suits and crush organized labor unions.
  • Oil companies that are liable for climate change, but lied to the public about the science, have retained GDC to fend off litigation from numerous U.S. cities and counties.

In response, Paul Paz y Miño, Associate Director of Amazon Watch, a group targeted by GDC for its work to hold Chevron to account for polluting the Amazon, said:

“The lawyers at GDC seem proud of their tactics to deny justice to communities harmed by large corporations like Chevron. They have built their reputation, not on helping defend their clients on the merits of their cases, but on underhanded, and as we have argued – unethical, and even illegal practices to try to invalidate cases by attacking their opponents. The climate justice movement is at a critical moment, and communities harmed by corporations must have the right to defend themselves and hold corporate interests accountable. This report shows that Gibson Dunn’s practices undermine the rule of law in order to defend the wealthy at the expense of disempowered people and communities.”

Lauren Regan, Executive Director and Senior Attorney of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, agreed, adding:

“Lawyers and law firms must be held accountable for their actions the same as everyone else. When firms like GDC overstep the bounds of common decency – and manipulate the law itself – in their zeal to maximize the profits of corporate climate criminals and the elite, there should be consequences.”

Ginger Cassady, Executive Director at Rainforest Action Network said:

“Time and time again, Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher have shown their willingness to align with forces of corporate exploitation against the will of civil society and Indigenous communities. This unscrupulous use of the legal system is a threat to human rights and to democracy itself and we hope this damning report helps bring this powerful firm to account.”

People’s Parity Project’s Policy & Program Director Tristin Brown released the following statement:

“Lawyers are not helpless actors in the outcomes they pursue. They play an active role in deciding whether to engage in work that they know is morally repugnant and likely to harm vulnerable communities. And for those who make the decision to go down that path, they usually do it at the direction of big law firms that profit from corporate greed and the suffering of everyday people. This report illustrates and details just how far one of those firms, GDR, has been willing to go to maximize that profit at the expense of our world. It is our hope that this report will shed light on GDR’s unacceptable behavior and tactics and empower attorneys to think long and hard about whether they want to contribute their skills and talents to the reprehensible work that GDR and other major law firms practice every day.”

Law Students for Climate Accountability co-founder and Yale Law JD candidate Rachael Styer released the following statement:

“Firms around the country are profiting off of environmental injustice and GDR is among the worst offenders. This report details how GDR’s litigation exacerbates the climate crisis and threatens marginalized communities. Law students are increasingly asking about firms’ representation and thinking about their climate impact when making choices about where they want to be spending their careers.”