Climate Conscious Lawyering

95 Australian Law Journal 51 (2021)

16 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2021

See all articles by Brian Preston

Brian Preston

Land and Environment Court of New South Wales; The University of Sydney Law School; Western Sydney University, School of Law

Date Written: October 24, 2021


Climate change is a multi-scalar problem with both global and local dimensions. Climate change is a global problem, with the combined effect of many local actions contributing to global climate change. It is also a local problem as the impacts of climate change are experienced locally. This interaction between scales highlights how local actors and action can influence global, national, subnational and local governance. Lawyers are one group of actors who can meaningfully contribute to climate change action. Climate change places a responsibility on lawyers to adopt a climate conscious rather than a climate blind approach in their daily legal practice. A climate conscious approach requires an active awareness of the reality of climate change and how it interacts with daily legal problems. Consistent with legal ethics, there are at least five ways in which lawyers can implement this climate conscious approach in their daily legal practice. Each of these ways challenges common conceptions (or rather misconceptions) about the role and duties of a lawyer.

Note: This article was first published by Thomson Reuters in the Australian Law Journal and should be cited as Hon Justice Brian J Preston SC, Climate Conscious Lawyering, (2020) 95 ALJ 51.

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Keywords: Climate change, lawyers, legal ethics

JEL Classification: K32

Suggested Citation

Preston, Brian, Climate Conscious Lawyering (October 24, 2021). 95 Australian Law Journal 51 (2021), Available at SSRN:

Brian Preston (Contact Author)

Land and Environment Court of New South Wales ( email )

225 Macquarie Street
Sydney NSW, 2000

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006

Western Sydney University, School of Law ( email )

Locked Bag 1797
Penrith, NSW 2751

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