The 2021 Allen Hope Southey Memorial Lecture, 'Climate-Conscious Lawyering', was delivered online on Wednesday 25 August 2021 by The Hon. Justice Brian J Preston FRSN SC. The Q&A portion was moderated by Professor Jacqueline Peel, Director of Melbourne Climate Futures.
Climate change is a multi-scalar problem with local and global dimensions. The interactions between these scales have elevated climate issues to the forefront of economic, corporate and public law.
No longer merely the purview of environmental law, climate change has implications for daily legal practice and lawyers are increasingly being recognised as climate change actors. 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 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: 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 upholding the integrity and values of the legal system; and pursuing a personal ethical approach. Each of these ways challenges common conceptions (or rather misconceptions) about the role and duties of a lawyer.
Allen Hope Southey Memorial Lecture
In 1958, Ethel Thorpe Southey, better known as Nancy Southey, made a gift to the University of Melbourne to endow a law lectureship in memory of her husband Allen Hope Southey, who had graduated as a Master of Laws in the University in 1917 and died in 1929 at the age of 35.
Thirty years later, the Allen Hope Southey Memorial Lecture again enjoyed the support of the Southey family as they made further donations to build on Nancy Southey’s initiative. Forty years later, Mr and Mrs Southey’s son, Sir Robert Southey, made a generous gift in his will to the lectureship fund his mother had established.
And in 2008, 50 years later, the five sons of Sir Robert Southey continued the family’s support of the Allen Hope Southey Memorial Lecture at Melbourne Law School.
The Hon. Justice Brian J Preston FRSN SC
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 over 30 years. He is the author of Australia’s first book on environmental litigation and 139 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, Africa and the European Union.
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 and Chair of the Environmental Law Committee of the Law Association for Asia and the Pacific (LAWASIA). He is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney, Western Sydney University and Southern Cross University.
In 2019 Justice Preston was a Visiting Fellow at Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford, and in 2020 was the Robert S Campbell Jr Visiting Fellow at Magdalen College, University of Oxford.