We recently caught up with two members of the trainee-led Climate Change Group at Clyde & Co, Anisha Hira and Emma Turton. They chatted to us about their reasons for joining the group, the benefits, both personally and professionally, of being part of it and how the work they do in the group contributes to their overall learning and development.
Anisha Hira & Emma Turton
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Anisha: I grew up in India and Kenya before moving to the UK to study Politics, Philosophy and Law at King's College London. After my undergraduate degree, I completed an LLM in Public Law at University College London. During my second seat in Professional Indemnity Construction, I have had the opportunity to join the Climate Change Group as a founding member and take on a leadership role for the Climate Calendar team.
Emma: I read History, War Studies and French at University and graduated with a degree in History from King’s College London. I then took a year off of studying during which I joined Sussex Police as an administrator in the Coroner’s Office, and travelled in the United States and Central America. I completed my GDL and LPC at BPP London and came to Clyde & Co as a paralegal in Clyde’s internal Risk Team, before starting my training contract in 2019. I am currently in my third seat and one day would love to assist in answering the questions as to how to develop international space law and clean up the shipping industry.
What is the Climate Change Group and what does it do?
Anisha: As my colleague, Zaneta Sedilekova, mentioned in her Bright Network Interview about the origins of the Climate Change Group, the Climate Change Group (CCG) is a trainee-led initiative that allows trainees to gain first-hand experience in business development whilst also focusing on Pro Bono Climate Change-related projects. Although it was only set up in February 2020, the CCG has now expanded to a total of 32 members!
The CCG comprises of seven interesting teams, each of which focuses on a slightly different area or task. The team members get involved in various activities that complement our training. For example, one CCG team hosted a Climate Change Hackathon between July and August 2020. To learn more about the hackathon, you can read this interview with Elnaz Amiri and Zaneta Sedilekova, the trainee coordinators of the event. Trainees involved in the Hackathon had the opportunity to apply their climate change knowledge in a practical way and draft climate-conscious clauses. We have recently starting an initiative where Trainees and other team members are able to host peer-to-peer learning sessions to further our knowledge on the regulations and ongoing climate change litigation. Other teams are focused on developing client relationships, assisting with the firm's pro-bono offering and furthering learning and development in relation to climate change.
Why did you join the Climate Change Group?
Anisha: I had always been interested in how the law can provide us with the tools to address many of the climate change-related issues we face today. During my LLM, I became particularly interested in climate change litigation and the various ways in which cases are framed in different jurisdictions. When I was in my first seat, I had the opportunity to attend several seminars and networking sessions with clients where I heard about the concern businesses have about the impacts of climate change. This led me to join the CCG to better understand the legal and commercial issues clients face in relation to climate change and how legal professionals can devise sensible solutions to these issues.
Emma: The CCG is an exciting initiative which incorporates the best elements of pro bono and provides a space for trainees to build relationships and network across the firm and externally, all whilst expanding their knowledge of a vitally important issue and growing area of concern for the legal profession. In particular, the opportunity to dedicate time to learn more about climate change law, litigation and regulation attracted me to the CCG, as it is not an area of law that I have formally studied. I was also eager to take on a leadership role in the CCG as a founding member; such leadership opportunities can be limited when you are a trainee.
What are the main tasks of your teams?
Anisha: My Climate Calendar team is responsible for monitoring various climate change-related events and preparing regular updates highlighting those events for the firm. We keep up to date with the most current issues in the climate change space more generally, but also try to focus on the issues that affect Clyde & Co's key practice areas. There is a lot of scope to work on our learning and development and for collaboration with other parts of the firm. For example, we have the opportunity to regularly attend events and share the knowledge we gain with others in our team, the CCG and at the firm. We also engage with other teams in the CCG to help provide them with information that may be relevant to them or their clients.
Emma: My team has a couple of different functions at the moment. Initially, it was established to assist Clyde & Co’s involvement with Legal Response International (LRI), an organisation that provides legal assistance to poor and climate vulnerable countries who participate in the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations. Clyde & Co provides the majority of its assistance around the time that the annual Conferences of Parties (COP) are held. However, as COP26 is postponed this year due to COVID19, we have partially repurposed the team to provide a newsletter containing monthly “learning nuggets” on ad-hoc climate change-related topics that we have spotted during our day to day e.g. a particular climate change litigation case, a new government plan to mitigate the impact of climate change, or a review of a webinar that we attended. Additionally, we have just launched peer-to-peer learning sessions on climate change law, regulation and technology.
What do you find the most challenging about taking on leadership positions so early in your careers?
Anisha: I have found taking on a leadership role has been more exciting than challenging! As one of the leaders in the CCG, I have been able to develop several skills that are relevant to my role as a trainee solicitor and that will prepare me for life beyond qualification. I have been able to achieve many of the goals that have been set for me as a trainee, such as managing my time, building relationships across the firm and expanding my commercial awareness and understanding of our clients' businesses. Although any task can have its challenges, the CCG has provided me with a strong support network to lean on when I am struggling with a particular problem! For example, the CCG leaders have had the opportunity to attend a number of leadership courses, which help us to deal with situations, such as how to effectively exchange feedback and how to make a pitch.
Emma: I think this question is better phrased as what is most exciting about taking on a leadership role! I have really relished the opportunity to lead a team and to liaise with supervising partners on the pro-bono client engagement. Additionally, I have been able to repurpose my team as I wanted. As COP26 is currently postponed due to COVID-19, most of our involvement with LRI in this capacity has been postponed until November 2021. Consequently, my team has started a peer-to-peer learning initiative, to share our growing knowledge of climate change law, regulation, litigation and technology. The sessions also provide a space in which we can practise (for now, virtually!) giving presentations to a large audience – a skill which will be useful for our career in the future. I delivered the first presentation on 22 October which covered the fundamentals the UNFCCC and its related major agreements and protocols to date. We received really positive feedback, and are looking forward to delving deeper into the details of the Paris Agreement for the next presentation in November.
What do you find the most rewarding in your role?
Anisha: The most rewarding part of being a leader in the CCG team is that I get to work with so many interesting and passionate people. Everybody I have had the chance to work with has taught me something new about a particular climate change issue or put forward an innovative way of tackling certain issues. I am constantly learning from the people around me! Another aspect that has been very rewarding is the opportunity to mentor or provide guidance to students, future joiners to the firm and new members of the Climate Calendar team. I have attended several networking sessions and workshops where I have been asked to share my experiences and have answered questions about those who are considering applying to Clyde & Co or to join the CCG.
Emma: As a trainee, you naturally find that the majority of your on the job learning comes from your supervisors, or your own independent research. Sometimes, it can feel quite a linear learning pattern. However, the CCG helps to broaden those learning channels to include other trainees, associates and partners. The fact that the CCG, and the recently launched peer-to-peer learning initiatives are trainee-founded and led, helps to create a community of learning amongst trainees.
Why should Bright Network members join Clyde & Co and the Climate Change Group?
Emma: Clyde & Co is reputed as a leading shipping and insurance firm, with an excellent professional negligence practice, and has enjoyed rapid and successful expansion into a number of other sectors and countries over the last sixty years. Clyde’s appetite for change, growth and adaptation makes it an exciting place to work. Clyde’s interest and expertise in climate change through its growing practice knowledge, and initiatives like the CCG and Clyde Code shows its commitment to meeting client’s changing needs as our world evolves. Trainees have the opportunity to be involved in these initiatives from the start of their training contract, to benefit from and add to Clyde’s growing expertise, and to be part of Clyde’s next chapter.
Example of a part of the monthly peer-to-peer learning presentations.
Quotes from members of Anisha's and Emma's teams:
LRI team led by Emma
Sarah Hill-Smith: “I joined the CCG because it provided a constructive outlet for my frustrations about the climate crisis and a way to harness my (developing) legal skills to try combat climate change. In my view, change is driven from the top down. So helping climate-vulnerable nations navigate the legalities of climate change and honour international commitments is the perfect way to foster long-lasting systemic change.
Beatrice Russo: “The reason why I joined the LRI team is because it would allow me to gain exposure to what I have always been passionate about: climate change law and policy. I have been interested in the subject for years and I was particularly attracted by the nature of the work carried out by the team, including assisting states with organising COP26 organisation. This work is both international and very practical in nature.”
Climate Calendar team led by Anisha
Ieva Fiddes: "For me the Climate Change Group is like a mini hub of knowledge and a platform where like-minded people come together to share information and find ways of contributing to the big fight against climate change. Sometimes you can easily get overwhelmed by tons of information and initiatives concerning climate change issues out there. I joined the CCG in attempt to educate myself about environmental issues and find more guided ways of contributing to making a difference".
Sachin Shah: "My undergraduate degree in Environmental Science has allowed me to gain a technical understanding on many complicated issues around climate change and mitigation strategies. The Climate Change Group allows me to use the skills developed from my undergraduate but also gain new skills in a legal and business context. This will be invaluable for a career in commercial law and is a great initiative for all interests in the environment."
Alysha Patel: “Grappling with climate change issues is no longer a nicety but a necessity and the Climate Change Group is a perfect forum for this. It’s great to be involved in a growing trainee-led initiative within a firm which has a keen focus on resilience and sustainability. The Climate Calendar team is an excellent opportunity to expand mine and others’ awareness of the key climate change discussions, challenges and solutions facing the legal sector and its clients. I am also a member of the LRI team which offers the chance to provide legal support to those countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change as well as great peer-to-peer learning opportunities.”
Natalie Wisniewska: "The opportunities within the Climate Change Group are exciting, inspiring and ever growing. The initiative enables us to establish new relationships and collaborate with great legal minds and business entities that share the same passion to effect positive change to our environment, which in turn enhances our legal knowledge but also empowers us to take ownership of various projects in order to develop our commercial awareness."
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.