Are you passionate about making a difference? Do you want the opportunity to shape the future and be at the forefront of one of the most critical and transformative movements of our time? Learn how your skills as a graduate are in demand in the transition to renewable energy, one of the key solutions in combatting climate change for a healthier plant and humanity.
The UNSW Digital Grid Futures Institute is on a mission of electrifying the future energy grid, and we know that this huge task needs YOU!. That’s why we’re starting this blog series investigating up-and-coming roles relating to the energy transition…no matter your degree.
We’re passionate about exploring how people with different expertise can help shape a smarter, more sustainable future. To kick off the series we’re looking at ways Law Graduates can apply their knowledge to the energy transition.
10 Jobs for Law Graduates in the Clean Energy Transition
Renewable Energy Project Lawyer
Renewable energy projects are in the pipeline across NSW and beyond (think Snowy 2.0 and Sun Cable!). Projects relating to renewable energy will continue gaining traction as more time and money are invested in clean energy solutions. These projects need contracts to be negotiated and drafted, due diligence conducted, and the navigation of emerging regulatory frameworks, which is where lawyers come in! Lawyers in this area will provide legal guidance throughout renewable energy projects' development, financing, and implementation stages.
Climate Change and Environmental Lawyer
Lawyers specialising in climate change and environmental law can expect to be in high demand as the world’s focus on these issues becomes more urgent. Regulations around carbon emissions are starting to come into effect, creating new opportunities for lawyers focusing on environmental matters. These lawyers may also focus on environmental impact assessments and compliance with sustainability standards in the future.
Energy Regulatory Lawyer
As the energy landscape changes, so too will energy regulations and policies. Energy regulatory lawyers will help clients navigate complex new policies coming into effect. They’ll also advise businesses on renewable energy standards compliance, grid interconnection requirements, and utility rate structures.
Energy Storage Lawyer
As energy storage technologies become more prevalent, lawyers specialising in this space will help clients navigate the legal aspects of storing renewable energy. They will address issues related to project financing, technology licensing, regulatory compliance, and energy storage contracts.
Energy Efficiency Lawyer
According to the International Energy Agency, energy efficiency is one of the keys to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. We can expect to see the growth of energy efficiency initiatives as businesses and governments work to achieve this goal.
Lawyers in this field will soon be in high demand, working on matters such as energy efficiency regulations, green building codes, energy performance contracting, and energy conservation financing.
Sustainable Transportation Lawyer
As the transportation sector undergoes a transformation towards sustainability, lawyers specialising in sustainable transportation will advise on legal issues related to electric vehicles (EVs), public transportation, and alternative fuels. They will assist with regulatory compliance, infrastructure development, and contract negotiations.
A 2023 report by The Australia Institute found that only 0.2% of the nation’s bus fleet is electric at the moment. This is despite calls from the public in support of the electrification of transport fleets. What does this mean for lawyers? Your experience and skills gained from a law degree puts you in a unique position to assist with policy making and advocacy in the push to electrify transport fleets across Australia.
Carbon Markets and Emissions Trading Lawyer
With the growing interest in carbon markets and emissions trading, lawyers in this field will work on legal issues surrounding carbon pricing mechanisms, emissions allowances, and offset projects. They will assist clients in understanding and complying with carbon market regulations.
Ethical Hacking and Compliance Lawyer
As energy companies conduct ethical hacking exercises (also known as penetration ‘pen’ testing) to identify vulnerabilities in the digital grid, lawyers with expertise in this area will provide legal guidance.
As smart meters are installed in an increasing number of homes across Australia, iTnews believes “hackers will look for vulnerabilities in these devices and their networks”. Energy companies will therefore need to increase their focus on cybersecurity, including instances of penetration testing or ‘ethical hacking’. Lawyers with a focus on this will ensure these businesses comply with legal and ethical standards, help protect the interests of all parties involved, and address liability concerns.
Energy Infrastructure Security Lawyer
As we’ve seen above, with the digitisation of the grid there comes a significant security risk. Lawyers focusing on energy infrastructure security will work towards protecting the digital grid from a range of physical and cyber threats. They will handle matters such as regulatory compliance, risk assessment, incident response planning, and contractual agreements with security service providers.
Energy Policy Analyst/Advocate
Law graduates can also look beyond strictly legal roles when considering a career in clean energy. Energy policy analysts and advocates with legal backgrounds will play a crucial role in shaping energy policies and regulations. They will analyse proposed energy policies, provide legal input, and advocate for favourable policies that support the energy transition.
A wealth of opportunities
As you can see, the clean energy transition is creating new pathways and specialities for law graduates to explore. Whatever aspect of the energy transition you’re interested in, there is a role for you in the clean energy transition. Grads can also look beyond traditional ‘lawyer’ careers, as the skills acquired through law degrees perfectly complement policy and advocacy work.
The future of law is bright, and lawyers can play a critical role in shaping a sustainable future.