UK Environmental Law Association

The UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA) is the UK forum which aims to make the law work for a better environment and to improve understanding and awareness of environmental law.

It is a registered charity (299498) and a limited company (2133283). Its charitable objects include promoting, for the benefit of the public generally, the enhancement and conservation of the environment in the UK and advancing the education of the public in all matters relating to the development, teaching, application and practice of law relating to the environment. This work includes encouraging collaboration between those interested in environmental law, collecting and disseminating information and identifying, advising and commenting on relevant issues.

UKELA's Council

The Council of UKELA is the body responsible for the management of the association. It normally comprises around twenty people, over half of whom are required by the Association's Memorandum and Articles to be qualified lawyers. Elections are held annually. As UKELA is a registered charity, members of Council are its trustees.

The legal duties of UKELA's Council include:
• complying with the law on keeping financial records, including in relation to annual statements of account, the audit of accounts, annual report and annual return
• complying with the requirements of the Association's memorandum and articles
• keeping proper records of all meetings and any professional advice obtained
• ensuring legal compliance,for example,with regards to Health and Safety and employment law (or employing contractors)
• ensuring all UKELA’s activities come within its charitable objects
• ensuring other accountability as required by the law (eg the Charity Commission, Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise, Registrar of Companies)

Council's other roles

The other roles of Council include:
• determining the charity's mission and purpose
• guarding UKELA's ethos and values
• strategic planning
• policy making
• financial management, including producing ideas for generating income
• public and media relations
• reviewing its own performance

To do these things, the Council must set clear aims and objectives, establish priorities and ensure the charity's assets are being used for proper purposes. It meets quarterly.

Strategic Priorities

UKELA's Council has prepared and adopted a series of stretegic plans to guide the work of the Association. These are used to develop an annual work programme, which is regularly monitored and reviewed. A report is then prepared and published each calendar year. The annual report is one of the key matters considered each year at the Annual General Meeting of the Association, held at the annual conference every summer.

These are UKELA’s strategic aims for 2009 – 2012:

1.Make UKELA’s interventions more influential across the range of its activities
2.Provide relevant and up to date information to the public in a manner that’s accessible and user-friendly
3.Modernise member engagement
4.Broaden the membership base
5.Review whether environmental law is working effectively to deliver a better environment
6.Ensure the management and leadership of UKELA continues to comply with best practice in good governance and is statutorily compliant having regard to the current economic climate

About Environmental Law

Environmental law is the body of law that seeks to protect or enhance the environment. It is nothing new. If you want to find out more about it visit If you need specific information about an area of law (like noisy neighbours or nature conservation) visit the Law & Your Environment website (

Careers in Environmental Law

Students will find that attendance at UKELA events helps develop knowledge and networks and that the Association's bi-monthly UKELA journal, "e-law", provides valuable updates on current environmental law issues. There are also, for example, other organisations (legal and non-legal, governmental and non-governmental, UK and European as well as International), specialist academic centres, scientific institutions, policy centres and departments, and a variety of journals, magazines, books etc in this area of law and its connecting fields.

Information about the various organisations and institutions are available on the web or via the specialist journals/magazines. There are also a variety of courses available in environmental law as well as courses in the wider and related fields.

Not all environmental lawyers or consultants studied law, or specifically environmental law, at undergraduate level, so it is worth exploring the different degrees, courses and options available at this stage and afterwards. There are many careers within the environmental field, be it as an environmental lawyer (within the public or private practice), scientist, consultant, academic, policy adviser, planner, surveyor etc.

Students should consult practising members, or the relevant bodies, of each profession they are interested in joining in order to find out what course might be suitable to study and what they might need to do afterwards in terms of practical training and qualification. Students might like to explore with such members and their respective professional bodies the opportunity of gaining some insight of their area of practice via a week's work experience.

How we can Help your career

UKELA student members are welcome to attend all UKELA events and places are often free of charge.

Annual Conference
The annual conference spans a weekend, usually in June, and there are at least two student places offered to UKELA members at a substantial discount. These nearly always go within days of the conference being first advertised so get in quickly if you want one of them. The conference features top speakers on environmental law, plenary discussions, working party sessions, field trips, a gala dinner in a prestigious venue. The discounted places include accommodation for the whole weekend. The conference is normally attended by over 200 people working in environmental law so it's a great networking opportunity. Two Andrew Lees article competition winners also receive free places so enter the competition (look out for this being advertised from October until its closing date in January) for a chance to win.

Student competitions
The student competitions include the article competition (see above) and the annual moot.  These are both advertised in the autumn to all academic institutions with relevant interest. In 2010 we are also introducing a paper and presentation competition and an academic prize. More details will appear at in the autumn.

Working party and regional group meetings
Group meetings are open to students and are a good way of learning more about the substance and practice of environmental law, as well asmeeting people. Visit the events diary and, if you see a group meeting that's of interest, please contact the convenor to check it's OK to attend. Some UKELA student members are very active members of groups and all are welcome to contribute, organise events and help out in any way they can.

Student careers and social evening
Students considering a career in environmental law or a related area are warmly invited to come along to our social and careers advice evening, which takes place once a year. The format is informal, with advice from UKELA members including those working as solicitors or barristers in private practice, employed lawyers (in the private and public sectors, including the Government Legal Service, and NGOs), environmental consultants, and regulators. The evening has been hosted in recent years thanks to the generosity of Freshields Bruckhaus Deringer and Landmark Chambers. It includes a short presentation on UKELA and career options in environmental law, but its main focus is one-to-one and group discussions and advice about career options. The evening is always popular and well attended by students from a wide range of academic establishments across the country. The event is held in November or December each year (25th November in 2009).

Internships, work placements and mentoring
UKELA receives a lot of enquiries about internships and work placements. UKELA is a small organisation without an office so we are unable to offer these ourselves. However in 2009 UKELA offered bursaries for internships and work placements and hopes to be able to do this again in 2010. Many law firms, government bodies and NGOs with UKELA members do offer placements, and students are advised to identify their targets and apply directly (UKELA is not able to supply a list). The Law Society website identifies firms which practise environmental law, and the usual directories of the legal and related professions are also important sources of information.

Securing a placement or pupillage is of course very competitive. Being a member of an organisation like UKELA will broaden your experience and knowledge, and also enhance your profile by providing networking opportunities with professionals working in relevant areas. It will also allow you to contribute to the development of environmental law as a volunteer through the groups and other activities.

UKELA is also about to introduce a mentoring competition. This will link up students with qualified practitioners who are able to provide support and advice. This will only be open to UKELA members so you will need to join UKELA if necessary.

Become a Member

UKELA membership is open to both lawyers and non-lawyers involved or interested in the practice, study or formulation of environmental law and related disciplines.

Your benefits as a member include:
• events across the whole of the UK
• high profile and frequent training and networking opportunities, attracting varied audiences of lawyers and related professionals
• a unique focus on environmental law in the devolved governments
• the UKELA annual conference - the principal conference in the UK considering changes in, and the development of, environmental law
• active national, regional and local lecture and seminar programmes, involving national and international experts
• the opportunity to actively participate in working parties and regional groups
• a bi-monthly e-journal keeping you in touch with the Association and its work
Membership is offered to anyone with an interest in environmental law including:
• Environmental consultants
• Scientists
• Academic, local authority and industry lawyers
• Environmental groups and environmentalists
• Planning consultants
• Companies
• Law practices, lawyers in private practice
• Students

For Further Information please visit the website -

Contact Information

PO Box 487

Tel: 01306 500090

Types of Environmental Law jobs

Environmental Regulatory Consultant
Environmental lawyer
Litigation/Prosecutions Lawyer
Agricultural & Landed Estates Lawyer
Dispute Resolution and Regulatory Lawyer
Environmental Barrister
Environmental Solicitor
Planning and Environmental Solicitor
Planning Lawyer

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