Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?
I lead a talented national team of more than 30 environment and planning lawyers who provide legal solutions to government and private sector clients throughout Australia. I help my clients in securing environmental and planning approvals for major projects in industry sectors including energy and resources, transport, manufacturing, master planned communities and tourism. I am a member of the firm’s Diversity Council which provides leadership and strategy to drive initiatives to build an increasingly diverse and inclusive culture. I am also a mother of 2 boys and love to walk and travel.
What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?
A curiosity and interest in emerging environmental law in Australia. I studied environmental law subjects during a Bachelor of Environmental Science and decided to take the next step and study law. I was looking for a way to develop my knowledge and an opportunity to combine a working career with my love of environmental science. Luckily for me, my current workplace gave me freedom and support to develop a speciality practice around this field.
What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?
Difference, Insight, Egalitarian.
What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?
• Education to increase self-awareness, cultural competence and to break down inherent bias. This has to be incorporated into law school curriculum;
• Diversity has to be entrenched in the values of the legal profession;
• Organisations to have a top down commitment to diversity;
• I am a strong believer in targets;
• Policies that are directed towards “inclusivity”.
Karen is the National Practice Group Leader, Environment and Planning, at Clayton Utz.