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New guidance from the Law Society of New South Wales assists solicitors in anticipating and preparing the risks of climate in all areas of law.

The Legal Implications of Climate Change, launched by the Law Society of NSW, urges state solicitors to consider “an evolving duty of care” owed to their clients when dealing with legal matters that involve climate change issues and related consequences.

“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” said President of the Law Society Brett McGrath.

The guidance acknowledges how climate change will affect nearly all legal areas, so the Law Society considers it relevant to all its members. 

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

The guidance highlights three types of risks solicitors need to consider – physical (including weather-related, share price, asset values), transition (policy, legislative, regulatory, and more), and liability risks (claimants seeking compensation arising from physical and transition risks).

The guidance provides information on different legal frameworks, policies, and institutions, assisting solicitors in adapting to the changing landscape of their practice area, as their clients can face increased regulations, litigation risks, public scrutiny, and reputational risk impact.

Parts of the guidance continue to expand, including details on how climate legal risks materialise in practice areas like corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, and construction and infrastructure.

“The Law Society is committed to assisting soclitiors to be informed, skilled and ready to assist clients on climate change-related legal matters, withing their areas of skill and competence”, McGrath said.

“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.”

To read the full document, click here. An essay, authored by Mark Smyth, the inaugural chair of the Law Society of NSW Climate Change Working Group, and solicitor Georgia Gee, regarding the guidance will appear in the upcoming March edition of the Law Society Journal