Wessen Jazrawi

Who? Wessen Jazrawi, partner, Hausfeld, London. 

Why is she in the news? Representing Hussein Julood, who has begun legal action against oil giant BP over the death of his 21-year-old son, Ali.

Thoughts on the case: ‘This case is so important both to obtain justice for Ali and his family, but also for raising awareness of the impact of gas flaring – which releases very harmful pollutants into the air – on the wider community and globally. In this instance, the Rumaila oilfield carries out gas flaring at extreme levels in close proximity to people’s homes. It is no coincidence that the incidence of leukaemia and other cancers is very high in this area. Ali talked about how he would be playing football with his friends and, once the gas flaring started, the air would be filled with smoke and they would have to go inside. This is the first time that an individual has taken legal action against an oil major for gas flaring. Such cases are crucial in showing that companies like BP cannot continue to act with impunity, particularly in the global south.’

The Gazette approached BP, which said ‘it would not be appropriate for us to comment on legal matters’.

Dealing with the media: ‘The BBC had already raised awareness of gas flaring at the Rumaila oilfield in their documentary, Under Poisoned Skies, and so they were happy to cover this new legal development across their output. [Campaign group] Avaaz were also very interested in considering potential campaigns and communications around the case; they have been advocating for a fossil fuel-free future for years. That is something we are grateful for. This case – and the issues it raises around corporate accountability and air pollution – must be discussed. The journalists and campaigners we have been in contact with have all been excellent, and we are supported by a great media team at Hausfeld too.’

Why become a lawyer? ‘I wanted to work on interesting issues and hopefully make a positive difference – like many idealistic law students!’

Career high: ‘Being interviewed by Naga Munchetty on 5 Live and recording at Broadcasting House for BBC News at Ten. But more prosaically another highlight was when years of painstaking work on a particular case culminated in successful settlements for my clients.’

Career low: ‘When I was two years’ qualified, I left my then firm to do a master’s in International Human Rights Law, which I loved, but I then went on to intern at various NGOs. While I met wonderful people, working in the NGO sector wasn’t for me. I had a run-in with one individual who wanted me to make myself small – and that was when I decided it was time to leave.’