UCL Faculty of Laws


Climate Conscious Lawyering? Implementing a Climate Conscious Approach in Daily Legal Practice

11 February 2020, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

image of birds flying across sunset with plane at same size as birds

A UCL Centre for Law and the Environment event: Justice Brian J Preston will talk about the five ways that lawyers can implement a climate conscious approach in their daily legal practice.

Event Information

Open to



UCL Laws Events


Gideon Schreier LT, UCL Laws
Bentham House
Endsleigh Gardens


Hon. Justice Brian J Preston FRSN SC, Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales

About the talk

Climate change is often seen as a global problem, one that is removed from the daily practice of lawyers and courts. In reality, climate change is a multiscalar problem; it is as much a small scale, local and immediate issue as it is a global issue. Climate change is also a cumulative problem and the combined effect of many small-scale and individual actions is significant.

While climate change issues may have been considered relevant only to environmental lawyers in the past, many areas of legal practice now require knowledge and skills relevant to climate change. Recognising that addressing climate change depends on responses on a small scale, and that any legal action which involves climate change issues will impact on climate change policy, gives rise to a responsibility on lawyers to be aware of climate change issues in daily legal practice. It calls for a climate conscious approach rather than a climate blind approach. A climate conscious approach requires an active awareness of the reality of climate change and how it interacts with daily legal problems.

How can lawyers implement this climate conscious approach in their daily legal practice? In this talk, Justice Preston will suggest that there are at least five ways, consistent with legal ethics: adopting a holistic legal approach; effective identification, interpretation and application of legal rules; emphasising ethical duties of lawyers; acknowledging the overriding duty to the court and pursuing a personal ethical approach. Each of these ways challenges common conceptions, in fact misconceptions, about the role and duties of a lawyer.

About the speaker

Justice Preston is the Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales. Prior to being appointed in November 2005, he was a senior counsel practising primarily in New South Wales in environmental, planning, administrative and property law. He has lectured in post-graduate environmental law for nearly 30 years. Justice Preston is the author of Australia’s first book on environmental litigation and 131 articles, book chapters and reviews on environmental law, administrative and criminal law. He holds numerous editorial positions in environmental law publications and has been involved in a number of international environmental consultancies and capacity-building programs, including for judiciaries throughout Asia.

Justice Preston is an Official Member of the Judicial Commission of NSW, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW, and Honorary Fellow of the Environment Institute of the Australia and New Zealand. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by Macquarie University in 2018. He is a member of various international environmental law committees and advisory boards, including the interim governing council of the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney, Western Sydney University and Southern Cross University.

In 2019 Justice Preston was elected as a Visiting Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University for the Michaelmas Term, and in 2020 has been elected to the Robert S Campbell Jr Visiting Fellowship at Magdalen College, Oxford University for the Hilary Term.


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