Add a bookmark to get started

People default image

Kristy Balsanek

Global Co-Chair, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)
Infusing a holistic, integrated and practical approach to ESG throughout businesses and organizations, Kristy serves as a trusted global regulatory advisor supporting their transition toward creating long-term value and sustainability in a rapidly evolving legal and regulatory tapestry across the globe.

Kristy has more than 20 years of legal experience, practicing in both global law firms and in-house roles. Kristy’s practice focuses on core sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) areas including regulatory assessments, reporting and disclosures, climate transition, environmental policy, net-zero initiatives, greenwashing, sustainable linked loans, mergers and acquisitions, post-acquisition integration, global supply chain, business and human rights, business ethics, director/officer duties and corporate governance.

Infusing a holistic, integrated and practical approach, Kristy serves as a trusted global regulatory advisor by supporting a wide range of clients in transitioning, transforming and embedding sustainability and ESG throughout their businesses and organizations to create long-term value, resilience and impact in a rapidly evolving legal and regulatory landscape across the globe. She counsels public and private companies with both US and multinational operations across all sectors with a particular focus on companies doing business in Europe and Asia. 

Kristy supports clients in their business strategies to mitigate risk and finds practical solutions for a myriad of ESG legal requirements, voluntary industry standards and stakeholder expectations.  Kristy advises clients on the full lifecycle of ESG and sustainability, including the  design and implementation of risk based ESG reporting, compliance and governance programs and counseling on risk assessments, corporate policies, supply chain due diligence, complex supplier/strategic partner agreements, M&A, internal and government investigations, reporting, disclosures, audits, trainings, regulatory enforcement and litigation matters.

Kristy serves as the Chair of DLA Piper LLP’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Steering Committee leading the firm’s cross-sector integration of sustainability and ESG advisory services across practice areas in collaboration with the firm’s lawyers.

Bar admissionsDistrict of ColumbiaMaryland


  • Counseled numerous public and private multi-national companies in the healthcare, industrials, information technology, and consumer goods, food and retail sectors on applicable global sustainability and ESG corporate disclosure laws in the US (e.g., SEC Climate Disclosure Rules, proposed Federal Contractor Climate Disclosure Rule, CA Climate Disclosure Laws), as well as coordinate with DLA International attorneys regarding the applicability and legal requirements of the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), and the EU Taxonomy), and rest of world (e.g., Germany, France, Australia, Korea, Japan, Singapore). Advise on scope, applicability assessments, legal requirements, gap analyses, global sustainability and ESG compliance programs, annual ESG Reports, and ESG legal disclosure horizon scanning.  
  • Advised international financial institution on sector-specific US climate disclosure laws and guidance principles.   
  • Counseled a US headquartered international consumer goods and retail company on priority sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG ) laws, including environmental plastics, packaging, deforestation, biodiversity, human rights, modern slavery, forced labor, and governance (executive training and oversight).  Advised on greenwashing and fair-washing litigation trends for proactive monitoring and compliance.
  • Advised a global real estate company on net-zero legislation, benchmarking, reporting, fossil fuel bans, and green leasing.  
  • Advised a private equity firm on pre-investment ESG due diligence in a global M&A deal, including assessing target’s ESG corporate disclosures legal requirements, ESG Compliance Program, and ESG litigation risk.  Advised on post-investment recommendations on ESG integration and legal compliance.  
  • Counseled industrials company on ESG metrics required by credit rating agencies, ESG corporate disclosure reporting requirements, ESG compliance program requirements, ESG litigation risk and recommendations in preparation for credit rating review/reporting for favorable sustainable financing programs.  
  • Advised global industrials company on proactive US greenwashing litigation., drafted marketing guidance, and trained marketing team.   
  • Advised global technology company on its first ever climate transition plan outlining how the company would transition its existing business model to reach its net-zero goals.  
  • Counseled global industrials and technology companies on sustainability and ESG legal requirements, corporate disclosure laws, ESG compliance programs, ESG litigation risk and fiduciary duties.
  • Advised company boards on ESG legal requirements, corporate disclosure laws, ESG compliance programs, ESG litigation risk and fiduciary duties.
  • Advised major global educational organization on global forced labor, modern slavery, human trafficking, child labor, and other business human rights (BHR) laws for an ESG Compliance Program.  Reviewed, revised Human Rights Compliance Programs and Policies.  
  • Counseled global informational technology company on investor inquiry regarding UN Sustainable Development Goals and OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, investigated compliance policies and procedures, and drafted investor responses.
  • J.D., George Washington University
    Member, The George Washington University Law Review

  • B.A., American University, School of International Service, cum laude
    International Studies and Economics with a minor in German
    Study Abroad: The American University in Vienna, Central European Economics and Politics

Pro Bono

Kristy is committed to pro bono work, having served previously as outside pro bono counsel to Women Thrive Worldwide, an international women’s rights nonprofit organization. 

Media Mentions

Prior Experience

Prior to joining DLA Piper, Kristy served as the general counsel for the North American divisions of two large international companies and as a global corporate compliance attorney at two international law firms. 

In her most recent role as General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Data Privacy Officer of the US division of a global grocery retail company headquartered in Germany, she oversaw and advised the US, European and Asian management teams on a broad range of legal matters, including global compliance, corporate governance, disclosures, risk assessments and investigations, and led the management of the company’s cross-functional business teams on ESG-related requirements. 

Previously, Kristy served as general counsel at the North American regional headquarters of a leading Swiss-based global provider of airline catering, onboard retail and food logistics to the travel industry where she managed commercial, regulatory and compliance matters involving multi-layered and cross-functional business units, external stakeholders and government agencies.  

Kristy’s deep experience holding legal roles as a strategic advisor both in-house and as outside counsel gives her a unique, broad and valuable perspective of legal, commercial and operational insights in counseling trans-disciplinary legal departments, business executives and corporate functions across multiple jurisdictions. Oftentimes, she counsels cross-cultural business teams from numerous countries, drawing upon her experiences living and working abroad (including in Asia and Europe) to bridge cultural differences.  

Additional Information

  • Volunteer, Peace Corps, Daxian, Sichuan, China, 1997-1999

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Non-Profit Board Member and Chair of the Governance Committee, READ Global
  • Member, National Association of Women Lawyers
  • Member, Vital Voices, Regional Council for Washington, DC