The Law Society has urged solicitors to help take the lead in responding to the climate crisis, ahead of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow.

Launching a climate change resolution on Thursday, Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said solicitors and law firms ‘need to prepare for how the consequences of the climate crisis will affect them and contribute to the global drive to transition to net-zero.

‘This includes identifying climate change-related risks and greener courses of action, as well as reducing the greenhouse gases associated with running any business,’ she said.

Through the resolution, the Law Society commits to ‘support solicitors to be fully informed on how they might act to mitigate the climate crisis’ and acknowledges the role of the legal profession in ‘advancing efforts which mitigate the climate crisis and strengthen climate justice’.

It also urges solicitors to ‘engage in climate conscious legal practice’ by approaching ‘any matter arising in the course of legal practice with regard to the likely impact of that matter upon the climate crisis’.

The Gazette asked the Society if the resolution could potentially be interpreted as inviting solicitors not (for example) to represent a company building a coal-fired power station, or oil pipeline.

A spokesperson for the Society responded: 'It is essential to a functioning legal system that everyone is able to access a lawyer to understand their rights and obligations within the law. Over the next year, we aim to provide the profession with guidance on how to take climate change into consideration when advising clients and providing legal services.'

Boyce added: ‘Like the Covid-19 pandemic and other transformational societal changes, the effects of the climate crisis will affect all of us, including the legal profession and their clients.

‘Nearly a third of the UK’s largest businesses and many law firms have now pledged to eliminate their contribution to carbon emissions by 2050. Clients are also looking to law firms and lawyers to reflect their values and stance on climate change and sustainability.

’Solicitors can play a crucial role in the transition towards net-zero and climate change will affect their daily practice.’