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Law Council of Australia

Legal Practice Section

Interview with Phoebe Roberts

Recipient of the 2023 Mahla Pearlman Award for the Australian Young Environmental Lawyer of the Year

What does it mean to you to be awarded the 2023 Mahla Pearlman Australian Young Environmental Lawyer of the Year Award?

Receiving the Mahla Pearlman Award is particularly significant for me because I don't consider myself a traditional 'environment & planning lawyer'. Being the recipient of the award signals the broader recognition of the role of corporate & transactional lawyers in the environmental law space – this is something I feel extremely passionate about – especially when it comes to the role of transactional lawyers in driving the transition to net zero and nature positivity.

Over the course of your career so far, what are some of the key highlights you are most proud of?

Well, aside from this award of course, it would most certainly be my work with The Chancery Lane Project – which has brought a new dimension to my practice (particularly as a I transitioned from a traditional construction & infrastructure background to climate & sustainability risk). Working collaboratively with likeminded lawyers from all over the world and being part of the team driving uptake of climate clauses in APAC has been some of the most rewarding work of my career. I still pinch myself that I get to work on climate and nature matters every day at MinterEllison, and to align my personal values with my career. I am very grateful to be able to do what I do.

What’s next? What are your goals for the future?

Good question! I'm very keen to see the same momentum and engagement that we have seen in the last few years on climate change for the nature crisis. For my part, it is to accelerate the awareness of nature and biodiversity issues in corporate law.

What would you like to change if you had the power to do so?

The perception that climate and ESG are niche areas of law. Every lawyer should be skilled up in these areas and apply it to their practice regardless of what field they typically work in.

What advice would you give to a first year law graduate who is interested in pursuing a career in environmental law?

Don't underestimate the power of one ambitious lawyer to change the way things are done (that could be you!). Stay curious until you find the 'thing' you absolutely love to do. Seek out mentors and colleagues who support you, and don't be afraid to ask for help.