August 2022 | Emily Flynn | Clayton Utz


August 2022 | Emily Flynn | Senior Associate at Clayton Utz    

The most rewarding part of my job is…

being able to practice in an area of the law that I am genuinely passionate about, being environmental and sustainable development law.  As these are such a topical and evolving areas, my work is particularly varied and dynamic.  Throughout my career, I have seen a significant shift in the way environmental and sustainability issues are approached from government and business perspectives, such as the recent introduction of a new environmental protection regulatory regime in Victoria, and the increased focus by business on developing ESG (economic, social and governance) strategies.  I really enjoy the challenge of identifying and adapting to changes in my industry.

I value being part of a collaborative team of talented environmental and sustainable development lawyers who problem solve together and support one another to provide the best service to our clients.  I also enjoy having the opportunity to work with other teams within my firm which is, in part, due to environmental and sustainable development law naturally intersecting with other areas such as property, litigation, corporate and M&A.

I also appreciate that Clayton Utz encourages me to work on a variety of pro bono matters, and to be involved with a range of great initiatives such as the development of our Reconciliation Action Plan, being a member of the Accessibility & Inclusion Interest Group and supporting the Momentum LGBTIQ+ program.

To me, mentorship means…

supporting and learning from other women who are at different stages of their career in the legal industry.  Being part of the VWL Professional Mentoring Program provides a fantastic opportunity to make genuine connections with people who are on different career paths, but have a shared underlying passion for the law.  In my experience, both mentors and mentees gain so much from this program.  I wish I had sought out a mentor program when I first started practising law, as I would have greatly benefitted from having guidance and direction from someone more senior in the industry.  For junior lawyers, having a mentor is an opportunity to better understand what 'becoming a lawyer' might look like, to learn about new and different career options, and to have a trusted support person and soundboard to flesh out work and career questions with.  As a mentor, I feel very strongly about being a reliable and approachable guide for younger lawyers and I enjoy sharing my career journey with mentees, including my experiences working in different legal roles both in Australia and overseas.

The best advice I have received is…

there are endless career possibilities within the law.  Keep exploring until you find something you are truly passionate about.  For me, this meant highlighting my interest in sustainability and the environment to potential employers when applying for internships, clerkships and graduate roles in the hope that it might lead to an opportunity that would align with these interests.  I always made note of my passion for these areas in my applications, despite it being quite clear from my Bachelor of Environmental Policy and Management that I had an interest in this area.  Having a genuine interest in environmental and planning law led me to start practising local government law as a graduate in South Australia, which complemented my interests perfectly.  I later moved to New Zealand as a junior lawyer looking for a new adventure and was offered a role which was beyond my immediate area of interest, but which was a valuable learning experience working in property, wills, trusts and estates law.  While I learnt so much in this position (a lot of which is still very useful to me!), it also helped me realise my passion for environmental law, which I eventually returned to and have worked in since.  Giving myself time and space to seek out a range of roles and opportunities within the law has allowed me to forge a genuinely fulfilling and meaningful career.

If I could have dinner with 3 people, they would be…

Ash Barty - a national treasure.  I would love to hear the intricate details about her journey to becoming the world number one tennis player, and about her life beyond grand slams.

David Attenborough - would no doubt captivate with his stories of his travels to the four corners of the world, and to hear his views on how we can become better global citizens.

Annabel Crabb - another national treasure.  I imagine we would have the perfect mix of high-brow and low-brow chat over a martini or two.