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September 21, 2021

Professor Lisa Benjamin: Recipient of the Huffman Scholarship Award

The annual Huffman Scholarship Award recognizes outstanding faculty scholarship.

Professor Lisa Benjamin is the second recipient of the Huffman Scholarship Award, which recognizes outstanding faculty scholarship. Emeritus Dean and Professor James Huffman endowed the award to be given annually to a faculty member based on scholarship written the year prior. The recipient is chosen by a three-member faculty committee.

Professor Benjamin was selected for her paper, The Road to Paris Runs Through Delaware: Climate Litigation and Directors’ Duties, which was published in the Utah Law Review in 2020.

The following excerpt from the introduction of her article conveys some of the issues that Professor Benjamin addressed:

“Part I describes why climate change poses difficulties for corporate law, and why carbon-majors are the focus of renewed litigation efforts. Part II charts the evolving nature of climate litigation against these actors, including hurdles encountered in the tort-based first wave of climate litigation, and how the second wave of litigation is attempting to overcome these hurdles. Part III examines new risks and responsibilities thrown up by this second wave of litigation by providing a synthesis of directors’ duties under Delaware law and highlighting how these developments in climate litigation may (and should) affect corporate behavior in the context of climate risk. It also examines potential barriers to climate liability. Part IV charts a potential way forward for directors, highlighting the management tools and strategies that are available to them.”

Professor Benjamin teaches Climate Change: International, Energy Resources: Law & Policy, Environmental Justice, and Administrative Law. Benjamin’s research focuses on climate justice and climate risk, and how these issues intersect with energy law and administrative law. She has written a book, and several articles and book chapters, on non-state actors and climate risk, as well as energy and climate justice in developing countries, including small island developing states. She was the legal advisor to The Bahamas during the UNFCCC Paris Agreement negotiations, a member of the UNFCCC Compliance Committee (Facilitative Branch) and a member of the expert peer review group of the UN supported ‘Race To Zero’ Campaign.

Benjamin began working on the paper at the beginning of 2018 during her postdoctoral fellowship. Interested by the number of cases initiated against corporations regarding corporate responsibility for climate impacts, Benjamin focused her research on this new front in climate litigation.

Since its publication, corporate-based climate litigation has only increased in frequency, and a Dutch court, for the first time this summer, ordered a corporation to reduce its emissions, accelerating corporate climate liability at a pace that even I did not anticipate several years ago,” Benjamin shared.

Benjamin presented the paper at several conferences, including at Lewis & Clark. Several faculty members at Lewis & Clark read and commented on the draft paper before she submitted it through the US law review process.

“I consider it to be an honor to be recognized by my fellow faculty members in this way. I am so excited to be the recipient of the Huffman award,” Benjamin shared. “It makes me feel like my scholarship is fully supported by my peers, which is a wonderful feeling, and it is especially meaningful as I presented the draft of this paper in front of Lewis & Clark faculty, staff, and students during my job talk in 2018.”