RISE focuses on socially responsible and innovative practices by and within corporations and other forms of organizations. Established in 2012, this experiential learning program aims to foster social and innovative corporate practices in France and beyond. It also functions as a cutting-edge laboratory and incubator of ideas, and a platform for reflexion, cross-learning and exchanges between students, legal academics, lawyers, corporate and other professional actors engaged in this field.
RISE includes two complementary features : a yearly clinical seminar, and team work on clinical project.
The clinical seminar (24h per semester) focuses on challenges of governance, both internal to a company/structure (e.g. shareholder and stakeholder responsibility, financing) and external (respect for human rights, anti-curruption, environmental standards).
In parallel to the seminar, students spend on average half a day per week dedicated to clinical team work on a project commissioned by a partner (company, law firm, professional organization, local government…). Students typically work on realizating memos, practical guides, field studies or prospective legal studies. Their project can also consist of preparing, organizing and animating an event or a debate, often with a written account (e.g. joint scholarly publishing, report, or other). Each team of students is supervised throughout the realization of their project by a tutor, mostly seasoned professionals, including lawyers tutoring projects as pro bono, as well as Faculty members of the Sciences Po Law School
RISE is a selective program open to students in their second year of Masters at the Sciences Po Law School as well as PSIA students in selected masters. Its clinical seminar is taught in French, and the realization of projects requires a good level of French. It benefits from interventions, tutoring and support by a remarkable network of professionals from consulting, law firms, as well as the corporate world.
The RISE program is co-taught by Marie Bouchard, Pierre Bourdon, Pierre-Louis Perin and Pierrick Le Goff.
Project 1: CSR duty of vigilance
The project was carried out in partnership with Alstom, in the context of the adoption of the French law on the duty of vigilance of parent companies of March 27, 2017. The latter imposes on certain French companies, including Alstom, a duty to carry out a vigilance plan which aims at preventing serious violations of human rights, environmental, health and safety damages resulting from the operations of the company and its supply chain.
The RISE students intervened with the aim of participating in the elaboration of Alstom's vigilance plan. To do this, they conducted a series of interviews with people in charge of various departments within the company (Sustainable Purchasing, Human Resources, Compliance, Internal Audit, Governance, etc.). These made it possible to identify the existing actions within the group and to suggest the implementation of other measures in order to meet the new legal requirements. Throughout their work, students were able to understand the practical issues involved with the implementation of such groundbreaking law and to raise awareness on CSR and human rights issues in the company. The project culminated in the drafting of the company's vigilance plan, in collaboration with Alstom's Sustainability & CSR department.
- Partner: Alstom
Project 2: "Les enjeux des droits de l’homme en grande entreprise"
The main purpose of the project is to get students to discover the different CSR and Human rights issues in a multinational company. Firstly, students were asked to make an overview of L'Oreal actions in the Human Rights and CSR areas. Students were in charge of suggesting improvements adapted to the company.
Secondly, students had to think about how to explain and promote Human rights inside a multinational company among employees. In this goal, students realized a benchmark of other multinational companies' practices. Thanks to their findings, they established a list of best-adapted means of communication for L'Oréal employees to implement.
- Partner: L'Oréal
Project 3: What content for the vigilance plan?
The project was carried out in partnership with Amnesty International, in the context of the adoption of the French law on the duty of vigilance on parents companies of March 27, 2017. French companies affected by the thresholds stipulated by the law must produce and publish a vigilance plan. In the absence of an implementing decree, Amnesty International was expecting the students from the Clinique RISE and HEDGE to interpret the law of due diligence and determine the content of a good vigilance plan.
The students did a two-part job. They had to, first of all, clarify the content required in the vigilance plans. To do so, their first task was to develop an analysis grid that would assess the vigilance plans published by companies and possibly guide them in the establishment of these plans. In a second step, they had to determine the future application of the law by the judge. In order to get a first idea of how judges could handle some of these issues, the students invented fictitious case studies that they distributed to magistrates. Once the results were obtained, they were able to deduce some general trends of interpretation that would allow a first anticipation for future business.
- Partner: Amnesty International
Project 4: "Les enjeux éthiques de la justice prédictive"
Predictive justice designates tools predicting the resolution of disputes through data processing. Legal data are analyzed and correlated together by using resources of big data and artificial intelligence like natural language processing, The project is a partnership with French legaltech Predictice, a start-up combining legal matter with new technologies. Predictice is developing a tool assisting the legal profession by predicting the success rate of legal actions, through a statistical analysis of court rulings.
Students, after thorough researches on the topic, will have to identify ethical issues raised by predictive justice tools, and make concrete recommendations of good practices.
- Partner: Predictice
Project 5: "Transhumanisme et intelligence artificielle"
- Partenaire : Think H+
Project 6: Labeling Animal Welfare
94% of EU citizens believe it is important to protect the welfare of farm animals. Yet, the concern of people as citizens over the welfare of farm animals does not coincide with consumer behavior. Lacking and inadequate consumer information on farm animal welfare is one explanation for the existence of such an inconsistency between overwhelming concern for animals and purchasing patterns. More recently, the proliferation of allegations, and labeling initiatives in the private sector have further reinforced the confusion around animal welfare-related consumer information; not only are such allegations and labeling initiatives proliferating, they also are hard to assess given the lack of transparency in creation and implementation processes. Lacking, inadequate and opaque consumer information could lead to consumers’ distrust, while significantly hurdling the assessment of the effectiveness of good consumer information. This project aims at responding to a much pressing need, which is to improve the relevance, the reliability and the comparability of consumer information on animal welfare, so as to enable consumers to better align their ethical values with their purchasing decisions. In achieving such goal, the project participants will draft general guidelines listing and detailing the standards that any entity providing consumers information on animal welfare should follow. In addition to reinforcing the reliability of allegations, and to valuing good practices in the food industry, such guidelines would also constitute the first step towards the standardization of labeling requirements.
The “Labeling Animal Welfare” initiative was created in 2017 by Aude-Solveig Epstein, PhD, researcher and lecturer in law at the University of Caen Normandy, and the main supervisor for this project. Régis Bismuth (Professor of Law and Faculty Member at Sciences Po Law School) and Alice Di Concetto (Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Animal Law & Policy Program) also co-supervise this project. The “Labeling Animal Welfare” initiative received the Fondation Anthony Mainguéné Prize (2018 edition), an award based on the promotion of intersecting public interest legal studies, namely ethics, human rights, and access to law and justice.