Lawyers for Nature (LFN) is a collective of lawyers, researchers and campaigners that have come together to work on behalf of nature. We are incorporated as a Community Interest Company whose origins lie in the successful legal assistance given by our co-founder (Paul Powlesland) to a grassroots campaign, saving thousands of street trees from being felled in Sheffield.
We are not a charity and are not regulated by the Charity Commission. Furthermore, we are not a regulated law firm or a barrister’s chambers. We are a collective of solicitors, barristers and advocates who work on behalf of the natural world in many different ways.
Our barristers cannot take direct instructions via Lawyers for Nature. However many of them are Direct Access barristers and where they are not direct access qualified we can engage one of our collaborating law firms to give them instructions.
Many of our solicitors work in law firms and we can advise you on a case by case basis how to instruct them. Some of our solicitors are ‘non-practicing’. This means they do not hold a current practicing certificate and cannot therefore conduct regulated legal work. We will make this clear to you on an individual basis or you can look at the bios below for more information.
Lawyers for Nature conducts unregulated legal work such as research, consultancy and some unregulated legal advice where this is possible. We are unable to conduct your litigation. However where we can we will connect you with a law firm who may be able to advise you on regulated legal matters and conduct litigation on your behalf.
Insurance and risk
Where our people engage with regulated legal advice they will be working via their own chambers or law firm and therefore insured via their chambers or their law firm. They will discuss this with you directly during your introductory meeting. Where we are doing non-regulated work, Lawyers for Nature will use its own business insurance to cover the work.
Much of our work is carried out pro bono and we are grateful to our philanthropic partners for providing ongoing financial support to allow us to work on behalf of nature. We do charge for some of our consultancy and public speaking work. Our fees for this work will be made clear to you at the earliest opportunity.
Our aims and objectives
We aim to democratise access to legal support for those seeking to defend the natural world.
We seek to change the legal profession. We do this broadly in three ways: by supporting students and lawyers to engage with law that aims to protect nature; advocating for the Rights of Nature through the use of soft power, adapting the corporate governance of organisations around the UK; and through research on cutting-edge legal concepts related to nature, including legal representation of non-persons and how that interacts with the right to a healthy environment. Read more about Our Work here.
LFN’s members are a mix of barristers, solicitors, academics and law students, from a diverse range of backgrounds. We consist of a core team, supported by a collective of volunteers. We are united by our drive to create a more inclusive legal system, so that community action groups and environmental defenders can access the support they need to protect nature and their local environment. We do this through a mixture of education and awareness, while raising funds for specific local projects.
Currently, the lawyers working for large companies and developers, seeking to develop and build on green space, vastly outnumber the lawyers advising those groups seeking to defend their local environments. We seek to redress this legal and power imbalance, through the use of our volunteer network, knowledge database and consultancy work..
We will do our utmost to support environmental protection casework, particularly of strategic importance in the fight to protect the natural world. However, as a small organisation, it is essential we focus our resources where we are able to have the most impact. This means we deal with larger administrative cases, such as judicial reviews, and are less able to assist with smaller ad hoc, local casework. We will signpost to other resources if we cannot support a particular case due to current capacity constraints. Our community is rapidly evolving, so get involved! Please support Lawyers for Nature by donating via our ‘Donate Here’ button, subscribing to our newsletters, which you can do on the homepage of this website and sharing our content on your social media channels.
Paul Powlesland - Head of Legal
Paul is a barrister at Garden Court Chambers. He specialises in upholding the rights of environmental activists to protest and protect the natural world, and uses environmental law and regulations to defend trees, rivers and wildlife. Paul is the co-founder of Lawyers for Nature and regularly gives talks and workshops on the rights of nature, the relationship between the law and the natural world and what barristers and other lawyers should do in a time of climate and ecological emergency. As a boat dweller for many years, he is also determined to protect the rights of boaters and other Traveller groups.
Brontie Ansell - Head of Research
Brontie is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Essex. Brontie specialises in clinical legal education, land and property law, and wild law. She is also the Supervisor at Essex Legal Clinic, offering free legal advice and legal support to those who most need it. Brontie is a co-founder of Lawyers for Nature, her core focus being the production of legal guides and as the student liaison for the volunteer network. Brontie also provides legal advice on matters such as unlawful eviction of environmental camps, planning and judicial reviews, and use of the Localism Act to purchase community assets.
Amy Street - Head of Community
Amy is a public law barrister at Serjeants’ Inn Chambers. Having worked closely on government and parliamentary matters, as well as litigation up to the Supreme Court, she brings twenty years’ expertise on strategy, policy and legal frameworks to Lawyers for Nature. She places great importance on hearing diverse voices and connecting law and the wider world, providing legal and creative consultancy within arts and culture, including a decade as legal advisor to ‘Unreliable Evidence’, BBC Radio 4’s legal discussion programme with Clive Anderson. Collaborating with an innovative not-for-profit teaching law firm at Sheffield Hallam University, and training as a coach, she is passionate about supporting a new generation of lawyers to develop cross-disciplinary work for nature, while also cultivating healthy work practices and creating better legal experiences for all. A novice micro-farmer with the Sheffield Wheat Experiment, she believes that increasing opportunities for nature to play an integral part in people’s lives and communities will promote both biodiversity and wellbeing.
Alex May - Researcher
Alex is Lawyers for Nature’s researcher who previously worked as a parliamentary researcher and research assistant on projects relating to human rights, corporate law and air quality regulation. He supports Lawyers for Nature’s general work on Rights of Nature and specifically our work on Nature-Positive Corporate Governance. He is involved with other major Rights of Nature initiatives and conducts research developing Earth Jurisprudence from the perspective of Social Ecology, currently undertaking a PhD in legal theory at Birkbeck, University of London.
Ketan Jha - Legal Consultant
Ketan is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Business and Law and is also a part of the Law, Society and Justice (LawSoJust) Research and Enterprise Group, which brings together academics from law and related social science disciplines, who are active in the fields of social justice and accountability. An expert in biodiversity and administrative law, Ketan delivers on behalf of the Lawyers for Nature community with insights on local government and judicial review. Ketan is also interested in international climate litigation, and believes we need legal actions engaging citizens in every country to secure a habitable planet for future generations.
Claire Nevin - International Projects Consultant
Claire is a pupil barrister at Francis Taylor Building, a barristers' chambers specialising in public, planning and environmental law. Before coming to the Bar, Claire undertook a Master's degree in Human Rights and worked for the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Geneva, the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and the international NGO, Front Line Defenders. On behalf of Lawyers for Nature, Claire recently co-drafted a submission on the rights of nature to the Irish Citizens' Assembly on Biodiversity Loss and is currently supervising students at Essex Law School as part of a project on the right to a healthy environment. She is also a regular contributor to the Lawyers for Nature blog.
Silvia Cesa-Bianchi - Research Fellow
Silvia is currently interning at UNEP Paris, in a unit which focuses on sustainable consumption and production. Meanwhile, she is research assistant at UCL Laws, working mainly on SDGs implementation and decolonisation of the curriculum. She recently graduated with an LLM in Environmental Law and Policy from UCL, after receiving her undergraduate degree in Comparative European and International Legal Studies from the University of Trento, Italy. Some of her most recent research includes work on green gentrification, and she consistently provides Rights of Nature, legal personhood and environmental policy research to Lawyers for Nature, in addition to her blog contributions.