Source Intelligence Interviews Supply Chain Compliance Lawyer Michael Littenberg

Source Intelligence Interviews Supply Chain Compliance Lawyer Michael Littenberg

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016 - 6:15pm

CONTENT: Article

Today we share with you an interview with Michael Littenberg, leading conflict minerals and supply chain compliance lawyer and now Partner at Ropes & Gray. As part of his practice, for more than 25 years, Michael has been active in advising public and private companies on supply chain matters, including relating to conflict minerals and other commodities and human trafficking, and is widely recognized as one of the leading authorities in this area.


SI: Michael, it is a pleasure to be able to chat with you today and work with you on a regular basis. You really are one of the leaders in the supply chain compliance space. I know many companies look to you for guidance. We are curious, how did you get into this field?

Michael: It was by happenstance.  When I first started practicing law in 1988, one of my first projects as a new lawyer dealt with responsible sourcing of diamonds and gold from Southern Africa.  This was during the apartheid era in South Africa and our client was one of the larger, better known non-South African providers that was sourcing from among other places Namibia.  After that, over the years, I kept a hand in supply chain compliance and CSR matters for many other clients across a range of industries.  And here we are today.  I’m now working with more than 100 companies on supply chain compliance across a wide range of regulations, industries, geographies and commodities.  Certainly a lot of conflict minerals compliance, but also anti-human trafficking, REACH, RoHS and resource extraction issuer compliance and disclosure, among other areas.           

SI: And, how is everything going at your new endeavor? Could you tell us a little bit about Ropes & Gray?

Michael:  It’s been terrific.  I arrived here on January 4th of this year.  Ropes & Gray is a full service law firm with over 1,200 lawyers in 11 offices in the US, Europe and Asia.  As it relates to supply chain compliance and CSR, I’m now complemented by team members in Europe and Asia, so I am able to bring more overseas on-the-ground resources to these issues.

But, folks in the supply chain world sometimes forget that I’m a fully functioning securities and M&A lawyer, in addition to my supply chain and CSR practice.  Ropes has a leading public companies practice, as well as many other top tier practices.  This has enabled me to bring to bear for my clients a greater level of expertise and support across a broad range of subject areas and geographies.        

SI: So are you still in New York?

Michael:  Yes, just down the street from my prior office.  But, my practice is still global in nature, so I’m often traveling to where the clients need me. 

SI: We had a webinar with you recently on global conflict minerals regulation.  What does the global regulatory landscape look like?

Michael: It’s incredible how dynamic conflict minerals regulation continues to be.  The US rule remains subject to litigation, which continues to create compliance uncertainty.  In the EU, we’re getting closer to a final conflict minerals regulation, probably sometime mid-year.  The parameters of that regulation are still being worked out, but we do know based on the various proposals that it will work differently than the US rule.  Finally, in China, in the last few months, we have seen the publication of voluntary due diligence guidelines, which also will continue to be fleshed out over the next year.  I encourage your readers to view the webinar.  We discuss these developments in detail.   

But, the action is not limited to conflict minerals. For example, there is a rapidly increasing focus on other areas such as anti-human trafficking. The take-away is that supply chain compliance is going to remain dynamic and is becoming increasingly complex.

SI: Any predictions for US Conflict Minerals for reporting year 2015 and 2016?:

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