2024 Grunin Prize for Law and Social Entrepreneurship

Lawyers play a critical role in designing, implementing, and advancing models by which economic and social activity are conducted globally.  The Grunin Center administers the award of an annual Grunin Prize for Law and Social Entrepreneurship to recognize lawyers’ participation in the ways in which business is increasingly advancing the goals of sustainability and human development.

The Grunin Prize aims to reward the innovation, potential impact, and replicability and/or scalability of projects and solutions developed by lawyers to advance the fields of social entrepreneurship and impact investing. 

The Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship is made possible through a generous endowment from NYU School of Law graduates Jay Grunin ’67 and Linda Kalmanowitz Grunin ’67, and the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation. Jay and Linda have dedicated their philanthropic endeavors to investing in innovative projects that have measurable impacts creating meaningful, transformative change.

The 2024 Grunin Prize

The 2024 Grunin Prize will be awarded at a special ceremony on June 4, 2024, in New York City. This ceremony will take place as part of the Annual Conference on Legal Issues in Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing—in the US and Beyond, which is co-hosted at NYU School of Law by the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship and the Impact Investing Legal Working Group.

Grunin Prize finalists receive recognition from a global community of lawyers, academics, policymakers, and other impact professionals. Finalists are invited to participate in the annual IILWG/Grunin Center conference to showcase their projects in front of hundreds of conference attendees. Past finalists and winners have also received media exposure. 

For any questions or concerns related to the Grunin Prize, please contact the Grunin Center at grunincenter@gmail.com.

2024 Grunin Prize Finalists

TR Argentina S.A. (TRASA) in the issuance of the first social bond issued by a B Corp in the Argentine market

Beccar Varela logo

Nominated Legal Team: Beccar Varela acted as legal counsel to TR Argentina S.A. (TRASA) in the issuance of the first social bond issued by a B Corp in the Argentine market. The transaction was led by partners Luciana Denegri and María Fernanda Mierez with the participation of associates Julián Alejandro Ojeda and María Belén Tschudy. Luciana Denegri advised on the Capital Markets aspects of the transaction, while María Fernanda Mierez advised on the ESG aspects.

The Project: TRASA is a corporation that seeks to bring financial inclusion solutions to vulnerable neighborhoods. One of its signature projects is the installation of ATMs and Modular Financial Inclusion Units (UMIFs) in low-income neighborhoods in Argentina (the “Project”) that do not have access points to the financial system. Due to its financial inclusion projects, TRASA was certified as a B Corp in 2021. For the refinancing of The Project, TRASA issued a Social Bond for a nominal value of up to A$ 30,000,000. As a result of this issuance, the proceeds were used to refinance investments already made for the construction, installation and operation of ATMs and Modular Financial Inclusion Units (UMIF) in vulnerable neighborhoods of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, and the Provinces of Buenos Aires and in the northern part of the Country (Chaco, Entre Ríos, Misiones and Salta,) benefiting 45,133 families in vulnerable situations. The bond issue was carried out following the guidelines of the Voluntary Guidelines for the issuance of Social Bonds published by ICMA, which are included in the Guidelines for the issuance of social, green and sustainable (SGS) marketable securities (and the Guide for the issuance of SGS bonds, both of the National Securities Commission and the Guide for Social, Green and Sustainable Bonds in the BYMA – Bolsas y Mercados de Argentina - Panel and its regulations for the issuance of social, green and/or sustainable bonds). The importance of this issuance lies in the fact that financing through the capital market has been directed to financial inclusion projects with a high social impact. The increase in this type of issuance represents for Argentina the possibility of allowing new market players to become debt issuers and that the funds obtained through the capital market reach the sectors of society that need it most -entrepreneurs, small organizations- who often would not otherwise have access to financing, with the consequent impact that this generates.


Southeast Asia Clean Energy Fund II, L.P. (SEACEF II) to accelerate the energy transition 

IFC logo

Nominated Legal Team: The nominated legal team from IFC is Turgut Cankorel, Sonia Dhawan Madan and Ngozi Helen Agboti. From BII, Ming Da Wang; from FMO, Erik Nieuwland; from Norfund, Tord Pedersen; and from Swedfund, Adam Rångemyr. 

Supporting Legal Teams: The supporting legal team from Dechert: LeeLee Seah, Colin Barraclough, and Dean Collins; from Clifford Chance: Tjerk de Jonge, Alexander Chester, and Esmée Oldenkamp; and from Morgan Lewis: Divya Thakur, Sophia Goh, and Tomer Inbar. 

The Project: Clean energy developers and company owners in the early stages of their development suffer from a shortage of capital, largely due to their high business and regulatory risk profiles, and the need for deep technical expertise. This market gap for early-stage infrastructure projects is especially pronounced for non-sponsored, independent, climate transition projects. Given this market gap, private equity funds can play an important role by providing much needed equity capital while fund managers provide management expertise to accelerate the growth and development of early-stage climate change and renewable energy projects. Southeast Asia Clean Energy Fund II, L.P. (SEACEF II or the Fund) was set up with a dual-tranche investor structure to address this early stage “funding gap”, by catalyzing capital from commercial investors, development finance institutions, blended finance donors and philanthropic organizations for climate transition and decarbonization projects, and thereby increasing the number of bankable, climate-related projects (in the riskier early phase of development) in emerging markets. The Fund targets investments across South East Asia, with a focus on Indonesia, Viet Nam and the Philippines. The Fund will target two types of businesses: (i) utility-scale solar, wind, and energy storage and (ii) scalable, energy-related businesses such as rooftop solar, energy efficiency, electric mobility, and demand-side and grid management. The Fund’s selection criteria for investments would include (i) climate impact (potential to generate large scale climate mitigation, creating a precedent for innovation that can transform a market), (ii) additionality (targeted outcome not expected to happen without the Fund’s “intervention” at early entry point, unlocking significant follow-on capital), (iii) potential viability (appropriateness of business model, depth of target market), (iv) E&S impact (level of E&S risk exposure, leverage as an investor and the investee team’s appreciation for the value of ESG performance), (v) team (maturity, dedication, quality of founder team), and (vi) financial return (clear path to exit, potential to place larger rounds of follow-on capital).

Calvert Impact and Morgan Lewis Cut Carbon Notes 

Calvert Impact logo
Morgan Lewis logo

Nominated Legal Team: Two legal teams are being nominated – Charles A. Sweet and Jeremiah C. Parker, partner and of counsel, respectively, at Morgan Lewis, and Calvert Impact’s in-house legal department, particularly Emmeline Liu and associate general counsel Alyse Young.

Emmeline Liu, General Counsel at Calvert Impact. Joe Meginnes, Director of Strategy, New Product Legal and Operations, at Calvert Impact. Alyse Young, Associate General Counsel of Calvert Impact Capital. Charles A. Sweet, Partner at Morgan Lewis, Jeremiah C. Parker, Of Counsel at Morgan Lewis, Deborah A. Stern, Structured Transactions Associate at Morgan Lewis, Fiona E. Murphy, Structured Transactions Associate at Morgan Lewis, Sarah A. Nelson, Partner at Morgan Lewis, Ester Lee, Tax Associate at Morgan Lewis, Tomer J. Inbar, Tax Partner at Morgan Lewis, Chelsea R. Rubin, Tax Associate at Morgan Lewis, Kevin J. Biron, Litigation Partner at Morgan Lewis.

The Project: Calvert Impact, a global nonprofit investment firm and pioneer in impact investing, has provided and facilitated financing to CPACE lenders for multiple years, from the days these instruments became available to commercial building owners and managers to fund green improvements to commercial properties across the United States. As the climate crisis worsened and the limitations of traditional financing options became increasingly clear, Calvert Impact began to focus on securitization as a possible efficient solution, specifically an asset-backed, investment grade rated, fixed-income product backed by the cash flows on CPACE assets and publicly available to retail investors. The lofty goal of this new investment product would be to both drive sustainable building activity and reduce carbon emissions from commercial buildings in the United States. Working closely over the course of multiple years, the Calvert Impact and Morgan Lewis teams devised a novel securitization structure using a 501(c)(3) nonprofit issuing entity to bring that vision to life in the Cut Carbon Notes. The Cut Carbon Note is a secured, investment-grade rated, fixed-income product that finances sustainability upgrades for commercial buildings, with the objective of reducing carbon emissions. By removing financing obstacles to constructing greener buildings, and pricing to encourage greener buildings (stricter emissions standards are tied to lower cost financing) Cut Carbon Notes make it economically attractive and provide economic incentives to put sustainability at the forefront of building decisions in the commercial real estate market in the United States. While there are many products available to accredited investors, the Cut Carbon Notes are unique in that they are available to retail investors as well. This aligns with Calvert Impact’s dedication to democratizing access to impact investing. The initial issuance of the Cut Carbon Notes placed $29,700,000 in securities with 70+ investors, among them millennials investing through their retirement accounts, individual clients at 16 financial advisory firms, and institutional green bond buyers. Calvert Impact intends to issue a total of $400 million of Cut Carbon Notes, and the securitization structure the legal teams devised is easily replicable and could be duplicated and scaled by other market participants, potentially driving an exponential impact beyond the initial issuance. It is also a model which could be leveraged to provide a new source of financing for impact products beyond just CPACE assets. We believe that the innovative structure and broad scalability of the Cut Carbon Notes fulfills the mission of the Grunin Award.

Keidos, The International Program on Impact Law

Keidos Impacto Legal logo

Nominated Legal Team: Constanza Connolly, Partner and Director at Keidos, Agostina Coniglio, Partner at Keidos. 

Supporting Legal Team: Roberto Randazzo, Partner and Head of ESG and Impact at Legance, Fabio Gallo Perozzi, Lawyer at Legance, Juan Diego Mujica Filippi, Advisor at Nativa, José Miguel Alfaro, Partner at iitos, Juan Carlos Corvalan, Sustainability and Compliance Manager at Sodimac, María Laura Tinelli, Partner and Director at Acrux Partners, Gabriela Marsiglia, Executive Director of the Alumni Department of Austral University, María Paula Rennella, Executive Director of the Alumni Department of Austral University, and the Austral University Faculty of Law and the Alumni Department.

The Project: The International Program on Impact Law is the first executive training program on the impact economy, impact investing and purpose-driven companies, aimed at lawyers or advanced law students in Latin America who are developing professionally in different areas and fields of law (companies, law firms, social organisations or the public sector). The program is dictated at the Universidad Austral of Buenos Aires, Argentina since 2022 addressing different contents from a theoretical-practical point of view with the following scope: 1) Introduction to the impact economy. The role of lawyers in its development and promotion; 2) Purpose driven companies; 3) ESG factors and corporate governance; 4) Impact investing and new financial instruments; 5) Stakeholders: Value and supply chains; and 6) Practical workshop. Its main purpose is based on highlighting the new and broader role of lawyers empowering legal leaders to become strategic actors that can guide people and organisations to sustainable development by contemplating both the new risks and opportunities that arise. To this end, this program not only allows lawyers to develop new skills or capacities within the fields covered, but also provides them with practical tools and guidance on how these new approaches can be implemented in their professional work fields. The Program's faculty includes lawyers and other professionals on the premise that all of the fields covered by the impact economy require the adoption of a holistic vision that includes a multiplicity of disciplines to facilitate an appropriate approach. All of them are internationally and regionally recognized for their experience and expertise in their respective fields. The recognition of the program would provide greater visibility and emphasise the fundamental role of lawyers, strengthening the importance of their work as well as the imperative need for their participation so that the design of solutions that seek to generate positive impact have the desired effect. Particularly highlighting that legal professionals are agents of change who hold a key role to unlock the full potential of those solutions which are specially needed in a region such as Latin America. Sustainable development requires joint efforts and collaboration to adopt an integral vision. For that the course stresses that the lawyers must team up and work with their colleagues and other professionals to promote a just and sustainable transition for more inclusive economies. The acknowledgment of this program can help catalyse this key position of lawyers helping empower them and the future generations to become leaders that lead the transformations needed.

FlexCo, the “Flexible Company,” a new legal company form in Austria

RPCK logo

Nominated Legal Team: Keyvan Rastegar, Co-Founder of RPCK | Rastegar Panchal.

Supporting Legal Team: The initial working group was assembled by Dr. Alma Zadić, LL.M., Austria’s Federal Minister of Justice. It consisted of 30 experts from government, academia, private practice, and industry groups. Keyvan was one of three attorneys elected to the working group alongside: Johannes Reich-Rohrwig, Founding Partner at CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz; Philipp Kinsky, Founding Partner at Herbst Kinsky Rechtsanwälte. Keyvan was selected as an independent expert known not to be affiliated with any political party or industry group.

The Project: This reform makes it easier to start a business, raise capital, incentivize employees and stakeholders, and overall grow a company, especially by targeting young, female, and innovative entrepreneurs and investors. The new law was negotiated over three years and highly anticipated in the CEE region. After over a century of increasing bureaucracy and special interests slowing down businesses and innovation (Austria ranks 127th/190 in “starting a business” in the World Bank rankings), this reform is a telling example of democratic processes working to effect change. Entrepreneurs, investors, experts, and government came together in advocating for and ultimately negotiating legislation and finding common ground to cut red tape and make progress toward international standards. The FlexCo introduces a number of these overdue features to Austrian law, including: - Being the first federal law written in the generic female form, to increase visibility and awareness for female founders and investors (German distinguishes three genders: male, female and neutral; statutes are traditionally written in the generic male form). - Allowing employees and stakeholders to obtain real equity ownership without being unfairly taxed by creating a special class of shares and new tax rules. - Reducing minimum share capital (from EUR 35.000 to EUR 10.000). - Reducing notarial deed requirements for share transfers and capital raises. - Introducing treasury shares, authorized capital and convertible instruments (convertible notes, SAFEs) into law. - Allowing virtual shareholder meetings and simplifying circular resolutions. - Increasing freedom of contract, including for environmental and social ventures.


Judging Panel

The screening panel is be composed of an internal prize committee that will select the finalists. 

The final judging panel is composed of NYU Law representatives and industry experts who will select the Grunin Prize winner based on the submission materials, references, and a final interview.

Meet the Judging Panel below:

Professor of Clinical Law at NYU Law & Faculty Co-Director of the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship

Deborah K. Burand

Deborah Burand is a Professor of Clinical Law at NYU Law, where she directs the International Transactions Clinic and is Faculty Director of the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship. She writes and lectures on issues related to international finance, microfinance and microfranchise, impact investing, and social finance innovations such as social impact bonds, social entrepreneurship, and developing sustainable businesses at the base of the economic pyramid.

During 2010-2011, Burand served as general counsel to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the development finance institution of the United States. Earlier in her career, she worked in the environmental sector (Conservation International), microfinance sector (FINCA International and Grameen Foundation), and US government (Federal Reserve Board and Department of the Treasury). She also has worked in private practice at a global law firm, where, among other things, she supported, on a pro bono basis, the development of the world’s first debt-for-nature swap.

Burand is a member of the board and Investment Committee of the MicroBuild Fund, an impact investment fund sponsored by Habitat for Humanity International. She is an advisor to the Linked Foundation and Social Sector Franchise Initiative. She co-founded the Impact Investing Legal Working Group (IILWG) and Women Advancing Microfinance (WAM) International.

Burand received her BA from DePauw University cum laude, and a joint degree, JD/MSFS with honors, from Georgetown University.


Portrait of Jay Grunin

Jay Grunin

Jay Grunin is Co-Founder and Chairman, Jay & Linda Grunin Foundation. Jay graduated from Brooklyn College (with honors) in 1964, and from NYU School of Law in 1967, where he was an Editor of the Law Review and where he met his future wife and business partner. After a brief exposure to academia –as Research Assistant to an NYU Law professor teaching a seminar on legislative history–, as well as a brief stint in Big Law in New York, followed by a one year Appellate Division clerkship in New Jersey, Jay, who would never have to rue about the road not taken, opted to then take the advice of his lawyer-wife who implored him to “go south young man, go south”.  And so Jay and Linda “hitched on to the second wagon train” and landed in a then small town on the Central Jersey Shore called Toms River.

After a few years, Jay and Linda decided to open up their own small “mom and pop” law firm. In the 1970s, as Ocean County became one of the fastest growing counties in the entire United States, Jay and Linda’s law practice flourished. At the same time, Jay and Linda expanded their business interests to include real estate and other investments.

In the 1990s, the Grunins dissolved their law practice so as to concentrate full time on their greatest passions, business investments and philanthropy. In 2013 their philanthropic endeavors were formalized with the creation of the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation.


Helen Scott

Helen Scott

Helen Scott is a Professor of Law Emeritus at NYU School of Law. She is the founder and former co-director of the Mitchell Jacobson Leadership Program in Law and Business at New York University School of Law, as well as a co-founder and former Faculty Co-Director of the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship at NYU Law. In that capacity, she has participated in the development of innovative Law and Business courses, including Investing in Microfinance, Law & Business of Corporate Governance, and Professional Responsibility in Law and Business. Scott oversees the competitive Leadership Scholars program, and runs the capstone seminar for the program, Law and Business Projects. She has been a member of the NYU School of Law faculty since 1982 and teaches a wide variety of business law courses, including the basic Contracts and Corporations courses.

Scott currently serves on the Board of Directors of IEX LLC, the newly launched stock exchange. From 1999 to 2004, Scott co-chaired the Listing and Hearing Review Council of the NASDAQ Stock Market, an independent advisory committee to the board of directors, with primary responsibility for formulating and recommending corporate governance and quantitative listing standards for that market.

In 2023, Scott was the first recipient of the Grunin Prize for Sustained Commitment for her extraordinary dedication to supporting law students who are intent on doing good within their transactional and business law practices. In 1997, Scott received the Legal Advocate of the Year award from the US Small Business Administration in recognition of her participation in the development of the Angel Capital Electronic Network (ACE-Net) project to increase financing available to early-stage entrepreneurial enterprises. Before joining the Law School faculty, Scott practiced law in Washington, DC, and New York.


Photo of Rachel Robbins

Rachel Robbins

Rachel F. Robbins is currently senior independent director of Atlas Mara Limited, a UK-listed financial services company whose aim is to be the premier financial services company of Sub-Saharan Africa. She is also a Trustee of NYU School of Law and an Advisory Board member of the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship. She previously served as a non-executive director of FINCA Microfinance Holding Company, a global microfinance company.

From 2008 to 2012, Robbins served as vice president and general counsel of the International Finance Corporation and as a member of its Management Group. She joined the IFC with three decades of experience in legal and financial services, including extensive experience in corporate governance and in managing global teams through periods of change. Between 2006 and 2008, she was executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the New York Stock Exchange and NYSE Euronext. She spent 20 years at JPMorgan & Co. and was general counsel and corporate secretary from 1996 to 2001. From 2003 to 2004, she was general counsel of Citigroup International.

Robbins holds a JD from New York University School of Law and a BA in French literature from Wellesley College. 

2022 Grunin Prize Winner (TNC)

Steve Valdes-Robles

Steve Valdes-Robles is WaterEquity's General Counsel. He brings nearly 20 years of legal experience spanning a variety of areas including corporate governance, securities and M&A, structured finance, tax exempt organizations, and U.S. government regulations. He also has extensive cross-cultural experience, having lived and worked in Mozambique, Angola, Israel, Germany, Russia, Hong Kong and Chile, among others.

Prior to joining WaterEquity, Steve developed award winning impact investment transactions for The Nature Conservancy, served as a diplomat with the U.S. Agency for International Development, and represented corporate and sovereign clients as a corporate associate at Cleary Gottlieb. He also lectures on Impact Investing at Rutgers Law School.

Steve holds a B.A., with honors, from the University of Notre Dame and a J.D., with honors, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was a member of the Law Review.


Amelie Baudot headshot

Amélie Baudot

Amélie Baudot is the Chief Operating Officer at International Fund for Public Interest Media and the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at Bridges to Development. Previously she was the Chief Strategy and Chief Legal Officer of the Global Innovation Fund. Amélie is a qualified Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales and a Member of the Bar of the State of New York.

Half of Amélie's career has been spent in-house working for start-ups in the international development and impact investment space, building their legal and governance functions from scratch. Amélie began her career as a finance lawyer at Allen & Overy LLP. In that role, Amélie worked on bankruptcy cases, work-outs, court-sanctioned refinancings, and corporate reorganisations, including acting as the lead associate on the GBP 1.6 billion restructuring of a UK financial services company. 

Amélie earned a Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law, a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree from Connecticut College.


Eligibility Criteria

The Grunin Prize is open to individual lawyers or legal teams from across the globe. Practitioners, legal educators, policymakers, in-house counsel, and other legal teams that develop an innovative social enterprise or impact investment solution using existing law, legal education, or new legal structures are eligible to apply.

  • The Grunin Prize will recognize inputs, such as new uses of old laws or reframing of the conceptual framework surrounding the law, and outputs, such as the development of a new legal structure or organizational design.
  • The nominated project must be completed or implemented on or before December 31, 2023. Only projects that have been completed or implemented within the past year will be considered.
  • Examples of the types of legal projects that may be submitted for consideration include: innovative financing, contracting or entity structure, enacted legislation or adopted model laws, or design of new legal courses or tools.

Qualifying projects will be evaluated against the following criteria: innovation, potential impact, and replicability and/or scalability.


  • February 15, 2024: Deadline to complete submission forms.
  • May 1, 2024: Finalists will be announced.
  • June 3, 2024: Finalists will meet with the judging panel.
  • June 4, 2024: The Grunin Prize will be awarded at a special ceremony.