The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021


to the challenge, a skill which has stood her in good stead as an environmental solicitor. “Honestly, I have to go for a walk after some of the work I do,” she laughs. “The law is so complex; it just ties you up in knots.”

Issues such as climate change and the need for alternative energy sources make environmental laws more important than ever. Environmental regulations seek to limit pollution and to minimise the impact of human activity on the natural world. This sweeping objective means that environmental lawyers are involved in a wide range of matters, from health and safety, risk management, contaminated land, waste, renewable energy and environmental finance; to commercial and property transactions, nuclear law and litigation. Clients can include individuals, community groups, companies of all sizes, local authorities and governments. Customer service might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of a solicitor, but for Caroline Bush, the two go hand in hand. Luckily, Caroline spent a number of years working in retail before deciding to pursue a career in law – first at a small publishing house and then as assistant manager of an independent bookshop. “People always ask ‘how on earth did that lead to a career in law?’” she laughs. “I think it shows how many transferrable skills you need to be a lawyer. All I did all day, every day was deal with customers, which was good training. Without your clients you haven’t got a business and it’s the same in retail.” Intellectual challenge This professional experience came in handy for Caroline, who was able to treat her conversion course like a nine-to-five. However, things were different when she began the LPC in her second year: “Everyone told me that the second year would be really easy after the first, but I found the LPC quite challenging in terms of the intensity and volume of the work. I bought myself a road bike in the summer between because everyone said ‘you’ll have loads of time,’ but I didn’t get out on it as much as I’d hoped!” However, Caroline was more than able to rise

Hitting the ground running Unlike other areas of law, environment

trainees are often expected to get stuck in from the get-go. “There might be the odd discrete research task,” Caroline explains, “but a lot of what I did then I still do now, so you get a real feel as a trainee for what you’ll be doing when you qualify.” Trainees in the team have to work hard and function well under pressure, as a lot of reliance is put on their research findings. However, for Caroline, performing what she calls “seat-of-your- pants” work was a brilliant experience, so she was delighted when she had the opportunity to qualify into the Osborne Clarke team. Commercial awareness Another quality that Caroline believes makes a successful environment solicitor is commercial awareness: “You need to be able to pick up the phone to a client and not just give them correct legal advice, but also understand the wider context of what they do.” Being able to understand the commercial reality of issues such as climate change is also key, and Caroline recognises that her clients “have budgets and targets and they have to justify making a big change to their business from a bottom-line perspective.” Luckily, there is hope in this regard, with new legislation proving to make a big difference: “The ban on microbeads back in early 2018 was a really interesting example of a new law being pushed through really quickly and immediately having an effect on producers and how they deal with that particular product.” Embracing change Being able to roll with the punches is vital in the ever-changing field of environment law.

For more firms that work in this practice area, please use the “Training contract regional indexes” starting on p197.



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