There are many in this generation of University of Calgary students who are probably thinking of ways they can help the environment and tackle climate change.
For Bronwyn Evans, JD’23, the answer was through law.
Evans started out in history, in which she holds a master’s degree from the University of Toronto, and was working for a private company doing historical research. However, she came to realize she wanted to make more of a direct impact on society.
“I wanted to get more involved with legal decisions and policy decisions around climate change and the environment,” Evans explains. “I just couldn’t find many paths to that type of work in history, so I switched to law and I’m very happy with that decision.”
Drawn to writing and argument
Evans started out in biology in her undergraduate studies but found the sciences didn’t speak to her skill set, which was geared more toward writing. She still wanted to engage with environmental problems, but in a way that focused more on writing and argument, so law was the natural choice.
Her work in that realm is already well underway, as she has been involved with the Public Interest Law Clinic. The clinic provides experiential learning opportunities for law students while advocating for environmental and public interest issues that impact the communities in which we live.
It operates on a project basis, and Evans signed up for the Federal Impact Assessment Act Constitutional Reference, for which the clinic was retained by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). Evans, along with classmates Nathan Murray and Matt Szostakiwskyi, assisted counsel with the application for leave to intervene in the Supreme Court of Canada proceedings, as well as the written and oral submissions.
“It was a really good experience. I learned a lot of practical skills, such as how to create an affidavit and how to prepare written arguments for the Supreme Court.”
Evans says it was also a personally rewarding experience, as she had encountered and researched the Impact Assessment Act previously as a first- and second-year law student, so to be actively involved in the reference case was a great moment.
She was also involved in the Environmental Law Society. She says they are one of the more active student groups in the Faculty of Law, hosting a combination of academic and social events. These include hiking trips and bonfires, a natural resources, energy, and environmental law career panel, speaker series with professors in the faculty, and clothing drives.
Club opens door to friendships and more experiences
Evans says being part of the club is one of the highlights of her time in law school, especially since she joined the group in her first year when all classes were online.
“I was living in B.C. at the time, so I really had no contact with my fellow classmates outside of Zoom,” recalls Evans. “Being a part of the Environmental Law Society was a way to establish connections and make some friends.”
Whether it’s joining a club or being part of the multiple experiential learning opportunities the faculty offers, Evans encourages current and future law students to get involved.
“I think it’s a great idea to form connections with your classmates, especially those who may not be interested in the same type of law as you, since then you’ll have those professional connections once you’re out practising. In law, those relationships are very important.”
As for Evans, her next steps will be articling with the firm Norton Rose Fulbright in their regulatory group, and then a clerkship with the Court of King’s Bench in Calgary. Her ultimate goal is to work in the environmental sector, though she’s not yet sure in what capacity.
“I want to practise environmental law and thereby help to limit anthropogenic climate change,” she says.