TC seekers urged to probe City law firms’ links to fossil fuel industry

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Advice to wannabe lawyers comes as part of new student report examining legal professions links to oil and gas industry

Aspiring lawyers should question their target law firms about their work in the fossil fuel industry before accepting a training contract, a group of eco-minded law students has said.

Law Students for Climate Accountability (LSCA), a US-based, student-led climate change movement, has produced a new report that it says “exposes” London’s legal industry ties with fossil fuel companies and the role top-ranked law firms play in “exacerbating the climate crisis”.

‘The Carbon Circle’ report, released yesterday, also emphasises the role students play in bringing about change and encourages them to ask law firms about their records on fossil fuel transactions, litigation, and arbitration work and query their client selection processes. Going further still, the report advises trainee and junior lawyers to request to opt out of projects for fossil fuel clients.

While the lead organisation in this endeavour was the LSCA, the report itself was co-authored by UK students from top UK and Irish universities including the University of Cambridge, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Bristol, London Metropolitan University and BPP Law School.

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The report analysed UK law firms’ oil and gas representation and claims that 55 firms facilitated £1.48 trillion in fossil fuel projects through transactional work between 2018 and 2022. These 55 firms were singled out as each had acted in at least £1 billion worth of fossil fuel transactions over the past five years.

Amongst the firms analysed were all members of the Magic Circle, who, according to the report, were collectively responsible for over £285 billion worth of fossil fuel transactional work.

Camila Bustos, LSCA co-founder and report editor, said:

“The legal profession plays an indispensable role in supporting the fossil fuel industry, from arranging financing and writing contracts to ensuring corporations aren’t held accountable for harming communities. As we have worked to change the conversation in the US, we’ve also realised the extent to which these firms are global actors, and we’re excited to have found a group of students and legal professionals in the UK who are passionate about highlighting the role of lawyers in enabling climate destruction.”

The report comes not long after a UK group called Lawyers are Responsible issued a “declaration of conscience” outside London’s Royal Courts of Justice. Signed by over 100 lawyers, they pledge states that they refuse to act for companies supporting new fossil fuel projects or to prosecute peaceful climate change protesters.

The move triggered a debate over the ‘cab rank rule’ which sets out barristers’ obligation to represent everyone. It does not apply to solicitors, but amongst increasing pressure to go green, The Law Society recently published new guidance for law firms concerning client selection.

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People rail against oil and gas, then complain that fuel and energy costs go up. Tired of it really. This pseudo and mock outage is becoming tiring fast



Maybe they aren’t the same people?

Maybe some people think that investment in cleaner energy should be such that a hit to fossil fuels doesn’t massively impact energy prices?


Get your facts straight

The uptick in prices has not been caused by climate activism. A war happened with resulting economic sanctions and severing of relationships that caused a shock on the supply-side. How dumb can you be??



Oh no! They do realise that oil and gas is what keeps hospitals running right? I take it they will all refuse care on the same basis if they ever need it so as to reduce oil and gas consumption?


Get your facts straight

This is strawman, slippery slope AND ad hominem. Congrats we’ve reached a new record



I see you’ve recently taken your critical thinking gcse well done! Pointing out hypocrisy is always the best argument as you will learn in the real world.



How daft. Go live in a hippy commune in Belize if that is your thing.


Islington and Gentrification

You mean a UK champagne socialist constituency



Fossil fuels are the current means by which we power civilization. Morally stigmatizing mere participation in the industry is ridiculous.

The objectionable thing is where entities frustrate the transition to fossil fuels, but its not at all obvious law firms are engaged in that.



(same author): sorry that should say ‘the transition from fossil fuels’


Get your facts straight

There is evidence in the thing cited here that firms have indeed frustrated said transition. If you’re gonna comment on an article, please read it first.


Clifford Maine esq.

There are very few companies or industries that are not complicit in the use of fossil fuels. Given that fossil fuels are for now the predominant source of energy globally, it is virtually an impossibility to decide on jobs on the basis of having some connection. Deciding against become a trainee will not have any bearing on the planet! Placing guilt on the wrong actors (as usual)


Get your facts straight

Finally a sensible opinion. I don’t necessarily agree, but at least author is thinking with a brain.


Twitter Is For Narcissists

I don’t understand this – if law firms are so objectionable, why not work for Greenpeace or another charity fully dedicated to campaigning for climate change awareness?

Literally no-one forces people to apply for training contracts.

These people want to justify their parents’ enormous investments into their boarding school/university education by getting a well-paid career, whilst virtue-signalling about climate change for the social media kudos.


Get your facts straight

The article is addressing people who have NOT yet decided on their careers and is indeed attempting to influence that, so this comment misses the point and makes you sound daft and insincere


State of education in 🇬🇧

Yeah, but what has ‘not yet decided on their careers’ got to do with law firms and those who produce fossil fuels????

They can still decide to work for Greenpeace, right?


Senior Associate at City firm

I am involved in recruitment at my firm and would be worried about any TC applicant to my firm who had been previously involved with such a body as LSCA.

For any student interested in getting a TC at a good firm, I recommend you do not even think about supporting this organisation.


P'd off

That is honestly just ridiculous. To have someone as narrow-minded as you “gatekeeping” the profession is quite frankly embarrassing. LCSA is an established global student organisation promoting climate change awareness in the legal profession. How on earth could that be perceived as concerning? It shows great levels of commercial awareness and entrepreneurship, and it shows a hell of a lot more intuitiveness than simply following the status quo blabbing on about “oh wow private equity oooooh” like your usual crowd of applicants. Just because you don’t believe in climate change doesn’t mean you should have the authority to prevent the next generation of environmentally-conscious lawyers from joining your firm. Guessing you have issues with the Chancery Lane project and basically every environmental lawyer? For goodness sake, YOU are what is wrong with the profession.



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I See Basic People

Have all these comments above been written by the same far right basic type who runs the gamut of hackneyed responses or do you think a few of his mates jumped on after they flagged it on Facebook?

(They would be Facebook people. And male. And the sort who would call his friends and just about everyone else “mate”.)



Universalisability is a key feature of true ethical statements: you should be able to will that everyone in the world would follow your rule.

So let’s see what happens if, at the present moment, everyone follows your rule ‘you should not participate in the fossil fuel industry’.

Renewables can’t come close to meeting society’s energy demands. The economy collapses, millions fall into poverty, hospitals can’t run, most vehicles can’t be powered so our whole supply system grinds to a halt, causing, among other things, mass starvation. etc… Basically, society collapses.

So, unless they want that, they can’t will that everyone follows their ethical rule. In fact its the best of both worlds for them; they rely on the fact that some will continue to work in the industry, keeping society alive, while at the same time they don’t get their hands dirty. They’ll use it to elevate themselves above others as being morally superior, and delight in berating everyone else.

Pity these morally enlightened individuals haven’t read Kant



Obscene. Should have at least started with the pharmaceutical industry given the heinous last 3 years of forced medication. (Which is now clearly turning out to be a disaster).


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