We caught up with Zaneta Sedilekova, a trainee at Clyde & Co who has set up a working group focused on Pro Bono Climate Change projects. She told us a bit more about this exciting opportunity within the firm, plus we heard from other members of the group about the benefits of taking part.
Tell us a bit about yourself, where you went to university and what you studied:
My name is Zaneta, I am originally from Slovakia, a country of exquisite natural beauty. I am training with Clyde & Co currently in my second seat with the International Arbitration team. I completed my LLB at the University of Glasgow and my interest in environmental and Climate Change-related issues motivated me to do an LLM at the University of Cambridge, where I focused on International Environmental Law.
What made you want to join Clyde & Co?
I was searching for a firm that would allow me to do work that I am truly passionate about. When I did my vacation scheme with Clyde & Co, I had the opportunity to talk with many associates and partners who were addressing Climate Change issues in their practice areas – from Climate Change liability risk and litigation, to important regulatory developments. Just a glimpse at our Resilience Hub will tell you how much Climate Change expertise resides in our offices. I wanted to learn from these experts, and if possible, contribute to the development of this area of practice.
What were your motivations behind setting up the Climate Change Group and how did you go about it?
In my first seat, I was very fortunate to be directly supervised by Wynne Lawrence, a Senior Associate and one of the founders of Clyde & Co Resilience Group, which is an international cross-disciplinary team that focuses on developments in Climate Change litigation and liability risk exposures. Throughout my seat, I assisted Wynne with Climate Change and environmental research. I also volunteered with Legal Response International, an organisation that provides free legal support to climate-vulnerable developing countries during regular negotiations that take place under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This was my first Pro Bono work at Clyde & Co. In January 2020, I asked Wynne whether I could take on more responsibility within the Resilience Group and she suggested that I could lead our Climate Change Pro Bono workstream. This was a great opportunity for me to learn more about Climate Change issues, as well as develop my leadership skills, and I wanted to share it with my fellow trainees. The Climate Change Group is a vehicle that allows me to do so.
Can you tell us a bit about the Climate Change Group?
The Climate Change Group is a trainee-led initiative that allows trainees to gain first-hand experience in business development while focusing on Pro Bono Climate Change-related projects. The Group currently has 12 members and we will be open for incoming trainees in September 2020. Our work includes maintaining good working relationships with our existing Pro Bono clients, as well as identifying new potential Pro Bono projects with important Climate Change dimensions, such as conservation and rewilding projects or energy start-ups. We also work with associates from the firm's Resilience Group; for example, we are currently planning a hackathon with The Chancery Lane Project, an event which will see lawyers from the entire profession "hack" contract law and draft Climate Change conscious contractual clauses. There is a lot of inter- and intra-generational learning going on across the entire firm, and the upcoming hackathon will further contribute to this learning.
What is your favourite thing about being a part of the Group?
I love being able to share my passion for environmental and Climate Change work with my fellow trainees while learning from them at the same time. I also like the feeling of responsibility that comes with founding and leading a Group like ours. I really like to see how everyone is learning important leadership skills that are often overlooked in the trainee skillset curriculum. Finally, I truly appreciate the support we’ve received from the firm – no question goes unanswered, no request unmet. For example, only a few weeks ago I contacted Graduate Recruitment to ask whether my Group members could attend a leadership course. This has now been organised for us to attend online while on lockdown.
Why should members join Clyde & Co to begin their legal careers?
Clyde & Co will test your legal and commercial skills and let you prove yourself – through both successes and failures. You will be supervised by top-class experts in their fields and given a chance to shape your training contract. This is an exceptionally unique approach toward training a new generation of lawyers and I consider myself privileged to benefit from it.
We also heard from some other members of the Climate Change Group about why they love being a part of the initiative and how the experience allows them to grow their skillset and knowledge. Pictured here in a recent group meeting via Zoom, you can read their quotes below.
Robin Bandar: "For me, the Climate Change Group embodies Clyde & Co's ethos of being the first into emerging and developing areas – whether they be nation-states, new and growing sectors or areas of law. Being surrounded by some of the City's leading lawyers who have an ear for growing trends is an incredible opportunity to cut your teeth into an unsettled arena, undoubtedly helping us as new lawyers to develop our skills but also to contribute to a greater purpose".
Helena Mardon: "I have always been interested in climate change and community activism, so joining this group is a brilliant opportunity to combine those interests with some of the commercial and legal skills we have learnt so far as trainees. Researching the partner schemes available for Clyde & Co to join has impressed upon me the seriousness with which the legal profession is taking its role in assisting in tackling climate change, and I am looking forward to helping on future projects."
Annie Wood: "I have always been passionate about environmental issues, and try to do as much as I can in my personal life to reduce my impact on the planet. The Trainee Climate Change Group allows me to bring this passion into my professional life, build up knowledge that will be key for my legal career, and play a part, however small, in the fight against climate change. It makes me proud to be a part of Clyde & Co where we are receiving so much responsibility so early on in our careers, and are being supported to pursue our own projects."
Elnaz Amiri: “I joined the Climate Change Group as an opportunity to use my developing legal skills in a positive manner. It’s a great experience to take ownership of a project or task, develop a different skillset and get involved in a very different type of problem than I come across in my daily work-life. And of course there’s the added benefit of getting to work with such talented individuals to hopefully effect some positive change.”
Matthew Cockerill: "This group is a brilliant opportunity to brush off the passion, knowledge and skills from my Geography degree, in order to make a tangible contribution to the biggest issue there is. Identifying start-up companies and charities on the front line before researching their likely needs is an invaluable use of my growing legal experience; whilst also exposing me to the business development side of law which a trainee would otherwise seldom see. This is a fantastic initiative by the firm which is a privilege to be a part of."
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.