The City Law School partners with Environmental Law Foundation to launch legal advice clinic

By John Stevenson (Senior Communications Officer) City, University of London

Solicitor-advocate Dr Paul Stookes gives lecture to kick off launch of the new Pro Bono Environmental Law Clinic.

The City Law School formally launched its partnership with the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) and its association with the School’s newest Pro Bono legal advice clinic, the Environmental Law Advice Clinic, in a virtual event on February 4th.

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ELF is a UK-registered charity dedicated to environmental law and disseminating information on the subject. One of its main purposes is to connect individuals and community groups trying to prevent environmental damage with ELF’s environmental lawyers and other technical environmental specialists to provide information and pro bono advice on potential legal or planning cases. The ELF also organises local questions-and-answers sessions with experts for members of the public; provides training and education in the subject, and produces various publications.

The Environmental Law Advice Clinic will be led by Ffyon Reilly and assisted by the Pro Bono coordinator for the City Law School, Paula Allen.

Climate emergency

The clinic will spearhead two main activities: a policy clinic supported by 12 students divided into two teams of six who will be working on a policy document focussed on the attitudes of London local authorities to the climate emergency; and a more broad-based environmental law clinic in partnership with the ELF, which will supply the clinic with clients in need of solutions to legal problems, which students will work in teams to tackle. The students will then provide advice (under supervision) to clients.

The virtual launch event was an opportunity to introduce solicitor-advocate and mediator Dr Paul Stookes, who will be working alongside the students as a supervisor and environmental consultant.

“Dr Stookes gave an informative and wide-ranging lecture covering the contours of environmental law – air pollution, biodiversity and climate change. He addressed issues around access to environmental justice and information. Dr Stookes’ wealth of experience across a range of landmark contentious UK environmental cases (including those heard in the High Court and Court of Appeal) was clearly demonstrated during the event.”

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Odette Chalaby and Simukai Dzuda, currently studying on the Bar Vocational Studies (BVS) course, are the two project leads at the clinic, working on the Local Authority Climate Emergency Declarations initiative. Odette says her tasks involve “participating as a researcher and providing support and coordination for other student volunteers”.

The City Law School Environmental Policy Clinic will be working alongside other universities in the policy clinic and the project leads will present their findings at a Round Table later this month.

So far, Odette has completed initial desktop research on the climate change ambitions and actions of four London boroughs – Camden, Brent, Westminster, and Kensington & Chelsea.

Service to community

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BVS student, Leila Cazaly, has researched a number of Local Authorities, covering all of the 34 local London authorities as part of her team:

“The research, along with the information received from the local authorities in response to our letters will provide the basis of a report by the ELF on the extent to which these authorities have taken action to mitigate climate change across the UK as a whole.”

The City Law School’s Associate Dean for Clinical Legal Education, Ffyon Reilly, is delighted with the new Pro Bono partnership:

“The Environmental Law Foundation is one of the UK’s foremost advocacy groups. We are pleased to partner with ELF, and they will assist our students to apply the laws relating to some of the immediate threats faced in our environments around air pollution, biodiversity and climate change. We are thrilled that our students will be of of service to individuals and institutions in our communities in this way.”