JMC in Interview with Clara Eisenberg

4 minutes

What are the day-to-day responsibilities of an in-house Legal & Sustainability Director for a well-established retail business?


As General Counsel my day may involve anything from negotiating a complex partnership agreement to dealing with a brand protection issue. On sustainability, I oversee the implementation of our strategy and that could be checking-in with the buying and logistics teams to ensure we are reaching our targets or working with marketing on customer comms.

How do you balance between managing an in-house legal/compliance team and implementing ESG strategy? Do you utilise support on the ESG work from wider members of your in-house legal team?


The roles are currently quite separate but we are seeing more and more ESG legislation so I think lawyers will have a greater role going forward.  As regards our sustainability initiatives, these are very much integrated across all the relevant teams whether this is buying ensuring that we have satisfactory social audits or finance for carbon emissions reporting.


Could you provide an example(s) of recent ESG initiatives you have worked on, and how you have used your in-house legal skills to provide a positive outcome for Dune Group?


We recently launched a take-back scheme with Reskinned which will allow pre-loved Dune London footwear to be repaired, reused and re-loved. Soon this will be extended to launching our first pre-loved store on Reskinned. We spent a lot of time researching which take-back partner would be most effective, and appealing to our stakeholders and customers. I think there is a rigour that lawyers have. We don’t readily accept glossy sales messages and know how to drill down into the facts.


How do you keep up to date with environmental regulations and legal requirements that impact Dune Group’s sustainability efforts?


There are so many fantastic publications providing daily and weekly updates. Many law firms and industry bodies, like the British Retail Consortium and British Footwear Association, run excellent conferences and webinars which are really valuable. I also follow various ESG experts on LinkedIn.


Could you share examples of collaborative efforts with other departments, such as marketing or supply chain, to ensure that sustainability is integrated into the core of the business?


All our sustainability is collaborative. We are not a separate department; we work alongside our buying, logistics, store, marketing and finance teams to ensure that we are compliant, that we are focused on the most impactful areas and that our customers are well-informed.


What are the key challenges for in-house lawyers when addressing ESG matters, and how do you overcome them?


As a lawyer I understand the importance of all levels in the business buying into our ESG goals. We do this through training and regular in-person updates. Introducing new requirements alongside the context is effective in helping us achieve our ambitions.


In the evolving legal and sustainability landscape, what emerging trends or challenges do you foresee for the retail industry?


A current challenge is finding effective ways to manage and use the data we require from product suppliers, particularly as the legislation and reporting requirements increase. Several excellent platforms exist but we are going to need more industry collaboration to ensure that there is consistency in requests and information. I’m sure AI is going to be the solution.