Environmental law careers: How to get started

Looking for a career that could change the world for the better?

For anyone after a job in the legal sector, environmental law is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding career paths out there. However, knowing how to break into the specialism can sometimes seem like a challenge – especially for those without any relevant environmental experience.

We spoke to the University of Birmingham to find out more about the industry, and to get their top tips on how to get started with a career in environmental law:


What is environmental law?

Environmental law is a subsection of law, which covers all rules and regulations specifically designed to help protect our community, and our natural environment.


List of environmental laws

Environmental law covers a wide range of different areas, encompassing everything from the conservation of sites of natural beauty through to climate change.

Some of the most important environmental laws include:

  • The Clean Air Act
  • Climate Change & Sustainable Energy Act
  • Control of Pollution Act
  • Countryside and Rights of Way Act
  • Environmental Protection Act
  • Hunting Act
  • Water Act
  • Wildlife Act


Why is environmental law important?

Safeguarding our planet and sustainably managing our natural resources is becoming increasingly vital – not just for ourselves, but also for future generations.

Having the right legislation in place helps ensure we’re able to protect our environment, and hold ourselves accountable for what happens to our planet.

And with the depletion of our natural resources increasing by the day, demand for people to work in this area has never been higher.


What does an Environmental Lawyer do?

Environmental Lawyers work with companies or government bodies to ensure they comply with eco-friendly legislation and regulations, and to help reduce their environmental footprints.

Areas they cover could include everything from reducing pollution and carbon emissions, through to proper waste management and health and safety practices when handling chemicals.


The benefits of working in environmental law

Firstly, there’s never been a better time to work in this field. In fact, according to the UN, a shift to a greener economy could create 24 million new jobs globally by 2030.

And it’s not just the number of opportunities that are on the rise.

Salaries in this area of law are rising all the time – with average salaries being somewhere around £60,000.

Aside from the financial reward, it’s also incredibly rewarding from a personal perspective. You’ll be making a real difference to your community, and to the world around you. When it comes to changing the planet for the better, there aren’t many more influential roles out there.


How to get into environmental law

There are many ways to break into the field of environmental law – depending on where you are in your current career path, and what qualifications you have.

You could:

Study law at university – If you studied law at undergraduate level, you’ll often be able to specialise in the field through certain modules. That way you’ll be much more attractive to prospective employers when applying for roles.

Start in a junior legal position Not all legal roles require a university degree to get started. Working as a Legal Secretary or Legal Assistant, for example, is possible without previous qualifications or legal experience. So you can get your foot-in-door, and then look at progression options from there.

Look for free experience Getting experience could be easier than you think. You could reach out to a legal professional or organisation to see if they’d offer unpaid work placements, or find a mentor to shadow and help you learn the ropes.

Take an LLM – Environmental law can be a competitive industry, meaning finding the right qualification could be an essential way to stand out. An LLM (or Masters of Law) is open to anyone with a degree – making it the perfect choice for anyone looking to change careers.


What is an LLM?

An LLM (or Masters of Law) is a postgraduate qualification in a legal discipline.

It’s available to anyone who holds an undergraduate degree in law or an allied degree. It may also be an option for those with relevant work experience – allowing qualified lawyers the chance to level up in their careers.

There’s also a specific course for those interested in environmental law. The Online LLM in Energy and Environmental Law will teach you everything you need to know to tackle earth’s most pressing issues.

And, reflective of the fact that energy and the environment are intrinsically linked disciplines, the LLM will give you a holistic overview of both areas as part of the package. After all, you can’t focus on one without the other.


Why study with The University of Birmingham?

Recognised in the top 1% of universities in the world, the University of Birmingham is a proud member of the elite Russell Group of UK universities.

What’s more, the faculty who teach on this programme regularly advise UK and European Parliament on draft environmental legislation – meaning you’ll have direct access to some of the top minds in their field.

Other benefits of studying with The University of Birmingham include:

  • LLM programme is entirely online, making it easy to work around other commitments
  • Video lectures designed and delivered by our acclaimed teaching staff
  • Interactive assignments enabling you to participate in online learning exercises
  • Real-life case studies offering you skills that can be applied immediately
  • Social interaction with peers, professors and tutors to make you more connected
  • Digital resources to help you enrol, resolve technical enquiries and develop your career



Want to learn more about how an Online LLM in Energy and Environmental Law at the University of Birmingham could help your career? Download their brochure now.


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