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Climate-related risks will impact ‘all areas of legal practice’

The Law Society of NSW has released new guidance around climate change issues and related consequences and emphasised that these risks will affect all areas of legal practice.

user iconLauren Croft 28 February 2024 Big Law
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The new guidance for NSW solicitors, Legal Implications of Climate Change, which launched last night (27 February), urges the legal profession in the state to consider an “evolving duty of care” to their clients to provide legal advice around problems that could meaningfully address climate change issues and consequences.

President of the Law Society of NSW Brett McGrath said the new guidance outlines the key principles that apply when considering how climate-related legal risks may impact client advice, the solicitor-client relationship, and the interaction of climate change with legal advice and solicitors’ professional duties.


“The legal profession has both the opportunity and obligation to ensure that clients have the benefit of advice that will assist them to deal with the physical, regulatory and liability risks associated with climate change,” he said.

“As the guidance document says, ultimately ‘climate-related risks will affect most clients and nearly all areas of legal practice. For this reason, this guidance is relevant to all members of the Law Society’.”

The document is designed to assist solicitors in adapting to the increasingly changing landscape as increased regulations, litigation risk, public scrutiny and reputational risk impact clients of all sizes and across all industries.

Legal Implications of Climate Change is the product of extensive research done by the Law Society’s climate change working group and provides an outline of the legal issues associated with climate change and its impacts. The work of the Law Council of Australia and the Law Society of England and Wales was also important in forming this guidance.

“Solicitors are duty bound to act in the best interests of their clients and to deliver legal services competently and diligently. The provision of advice around climate change risks is, therefore, a natural consequence of solicitors’ professional standards and legal ethics,” Mr McGrath added.

“The Law Society is committed to assisting solicitors to be informed, skilled and ready to assist clients on climate change-related legal matters within their areas of skill and competence. We can’t avoid the novel and complex questions of law that the effects of climate change will raise across the spectrum of legal practice.”