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Climate Change Group: Big Hack

Book open Reading time: 6 mins

We meet again with the CIimate Change Group, a trainee-led initiative at Clyde & Co, to discuss the Big Hack. Below, Harry and Elnaz tell us all about this exciting project and their involvement.


Harry Little & Elnaz Amiri


Tell us a bit about yourself:

Harry: I played professional rugby league for a year on leaving school after which I decided to study Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham. Following this I completed the GDL and LPC at BPP University London and began my training contract with Clyde & Co. I have a personal interest in Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) issues and applied to Clyde & Co because I wanted to gain experience of energy work – with this in mind, joining the Climate Change Group was a no brainer. The Climate Change Group (CCG) is great as it allows trainees to build their knowledge of climate change risk and the associated legal / regulatory environment as well as offering the chance to get involved in business development work.

Elnaz: I started my journey at Clyde & Co as a paralegal and progressed onto the traineeship in 2019 and, having always been interested in climate change issues, the CCG seemed like the perfect opportunity. I have enjoyed leading the Clyde & Co team of trainees dedicated to working with The Chancery Lane Project  for the past year and having had the opportunity to see the Climate Change Group succeed in its wider efforts. To learn more about the other sub-teams please read this interview with my colleagues Anisha Hira and Emma Turton, and this interview with Annie Wood and Helena Mardon.  


What is the Big Hack?

Harry: The Big Hack was a collaborative initiative during November and December 2020 led by The Chancery Lane Project in which law firms, other businesses and interested individuals gathered to draft model contract clauses and proposed legislation within several themes with a view to tackling specific problems created by the climate crisis.  The month of drafting was kick-started in two days of live hacking that went ‘around the world’ across Asia-Pacific, Europe and UK and the Americas, starting at midday GMT. The aim of the event was both to foster practical engagement in climate issues and also to develop a climate-ready lexicon (the Climate Contract Playbook, the Green Paper of Model Laws and the Climate Change Glossary) available to borrow from when drafting contracts and legislation.


How did Clyde & Co get involved in the Big Hack?

Harry: Clyde & Co hosted two themes during the Big Hack covering the broad topics of energy and infrastructure. Participants submitted several origin stories (each origin story being an idea, context and background for a potential contractual or legislature solution to a climate change problem). Each team then voted on and took three of the origin stories forward to the drafting stage. Over 20 lawyers from Clyde & Co took part across the two tables alongside many external participants from other firms and businesses. Apart from the themes we facilitated, Clyde & Co lawyers got involved in other themes – such as dispute resolution and rewilding – which were facilitated by other Big Hack partners. Clyde & Co also ran a climate-related engagement campaign throughout the Hackathon.


Could you explain what an engagement campaign is? 

Elnaz: While hosting or taking part in events during the Covid-19 pandemic, we have had to adapt to encouraging interest and engagement from participants on a virtual platform. One of the ways in which Clyde & Co did this during the Big Hack was by curating an engagement campaign through which Clyde & Co lawyers, trainees and paralegals drafted articles for our website in relation to climate change in the energy and infrastructure industries. Our fee earners covered a variety of topics, from Batteries and Micro-grids as the answer to the energy industry’s impact on climate change to Carbon Offsetting in Infrastructure. These short, targeted articles allowed Clyde & Co fee earners to engage with the Big Hack participants (and interested parties on LinkedIn) on important climate change topics related to the themes which we were hosting and to improve the virtual event experience.


What have you learned from coordinating Clyde & Co's involvement in the Big Hack?

Harry: My main reflection is that organisation is a key.  With so many moving parts to such a big event and stakeholders from across different organisations, things will never go as originally planned. It is important to be responsive when situations change and be able to devise alternative ways forward – you have to go with the flow to a certain extent. It was also great to work closely alongside Elnaz a trainee I have not worked this closely with before. She was a great project leader and it was definitely helpful to be able to divide and conquer on the various tasks which had to be progressed in a short period of time and to cover for each other when we were busy with chargeable work.

Elnaz: As a trainee, my favourite part of coordinating Clyde & Co’s involvement in the Big Hack was the opportunity to develop my Business Development skills. This is an event which requires us to think commercially about how to draft solutions in a way that commercial parties would be incentivised to adopt them in their contracts. The Chancery Lane Project events are also a great opportunity to develop soft skills. As Harry mentioned, hosting themes in the Big Hack and coordinating the engagement campaign requires a lot of time, organisation, and effort (made all the easier when supported by colleagues such as Harry and the trainees in the CCG) as well as the need to manage expectations and to think about (and try to elevate) the participant experience while balancing such coordination with chargeable work and learning opportunities in our seats.


What would you recommend to students who would like to join one of the events organised by The Chancery Lane Project?

Elnaz: I would highly recommend anyone with an interest in climate change to get involved with The Chancery Lane Project. The best way is to sign up with them here and to keep an eye on their events either on their events page or by following The Chancery Lane Project Slack channel. Once you are on the Slack page, you will also be able to volunteer to help out with discrete research tasks or administrative/event organisation reports.


Two examples of short climate-related articles published in the Big Hack engagement campaign


Let's hear what the trainee participants in the Big Hack say about their experience:

Sachin Shah: “My experience participating in The Chancery Lane Project’s hackathon was invaluable. It taught me important skills such as applying the law to real life problems, team-working and essential drafting skills, which will be beneficial for my future legal career. The hackathon encouraged me to think commercially and practically, as to how this potential climate-conscious clause or law can be used by legal practitioners and law makers. The initiative is wholly ambitious and one which other organisations should emulate, as it displays positive results through close collaboration. I would encourage all my colleagues in the legal industry to participate in this initiative and have their input on how we, as present and future lawyers, can make a real difference in mitigating climate-change. “

Tom Wells-Cole: “The hackathon was an excellent opportunity to develop both my legal skills and my climate awareness. In a time where networking is difficult, it was also brilliant to (virtually) meet and workwith clients, colleagues and other legal professionals to draft impactful climate conscious clauses. I am looking forward to seeing them in contracts, making a real difference, in the near future.”

Ieva Fiddes: “For me the hackathon was a great collaborative event that gave me courage to get my ideas out and progress them with other legal professionals and area experts in fight against climate change.”

Zaneta Sedilekova: "This being my second hackathon with The Chancery Lane Project, I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate in an initiative that has a potential to transform the way that the legal profession contributes towards the global transition to a net zero economy. As one of the coordinators of the first Clyde & Co hackathon (you can read more about the first Climate Change Hackathon in this interview) and participant of the Big Hack, which took place only three months apart, I was also able to witness the incredible pace at which the initiative has progressed, which encourages me and my colleagues at Clyde & Co to do more to contribute to its success." 


To find out more about what Clyde & Co has on offer for bright members like you, click here to view their profile and live opportunities.