The Unethical Environmental Lawyer – Inaugural Lecture on 13 October

Are lawyers who help their clients achieve ‘perfectly legal’ environmental harms acting unethically?

Come hear more at the inaugural lecture of Professor Steven Vaughan at UCL’s Faculty of Laws on 13 October at 6pm. This public lecture, open to all, will be in person and live streamed. Inaugurals are traditional lectures given in public to celebrate the promotion of someone to a professorship at a university. You can sign up here.

Professor Elen Stokes (Cardiff University) and Professor Richard Moorhead (University of Exeter) will chair the lecture. Their job (writes Steven, as a reminder to Richard…) is to say nice things about the speaker by way of introduction to the inaugural.

About this Inaugural Lecture

As a species and as a planet, we are facing significant environmental harms, many of which are highly likely to only get worse over time – climate change, air pollution, biodiversity loss, deforestation, chemical harms, waste pollution, poor water quality, and so on. Somewhere in the story of each of these forms of environmental harm are environmental lawyers. They work in law firms large and small; they work for the government and regulators as civil servants; they work in-house in large corporations and charities. These lawyers lubricate, lobby, legislate, and litigate for their clients. In this talk, Professor Vaughan will suggest that some of the environmental harms that environmental lawyers help their clients bring about, ‘perfectly legally’, raise important and significant questions about the ethics of that lawyering. Do environmental lawyers do things that cost society – in the form of environmental harms – too much? And does legal ethics (written down in regulatory rulebooks and, more generally, in the theories of lawyers’ ethics) help or hinder those actions?

About the Speaker

Steven Vaughan is professor of law and professional ethics at UCL Laws and Deputy Dean of the Faculty. He is a former City solicitor whose research spans environmental law and lawyers’ ethics. Steven is interested in the theory and practice of regulation, and has held various committee positions at the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Legal Services Board. He is currently a Council Member of the Health and Care Professions Council. Keen that his work engages with an audience beyond the academy, Steven has spoken at the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts and written for a number of media outlets (including The Times, The Guardian and The Lawyer). Steven has also held visiting fellowships at Stanford University, the University of Melbourne, and the Frank J. Kelley Institute of Ethics.

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