Q&A with Lea Hiltenkamp
UWA Juris Doctor graduate (2018)
Lea is a lawyer at Glen McLeod Legal, primarily practising in environmental and town planning law with a particular passion for sustainable development. Lea also assists clients with contaminated sites, environmental and planning prosecutions, and development approvals.
What aspects of working in law do you most enjoy?
I'm passionate about using my career to advocate for important issues affecting our community and environment. Currently I am a Council Member of the Law Society of Western Australia and Vice President of the National Environmental Law Association. In these roles, I have been able to advocate on issues such as climate change, sustainable development, waste and recycling reform, as well as working conditions for young lawyers.
What’s the most interesting aspect of your career?
When I started out at law school, I didn't know I wanted to be an environmental and town planning lawyer, but I did know I wanted to use the knowledge I accumulated as a student and then as a lawyer to make a positive difference. I have sought opportunities to contribute to the community or to advocate for social and environmental issues that I think are important. I look forward to continuing with that work in the future, especially in areas of climate change and sustainable development.
Reflecting on your time at UWA, what experiences were most important for your development?
I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to study in Oslo during my law degree. It was a privilege to be taught by some of the leading minds in Europe about the current state of play in international environmental law. We were lucky enough to be taught by the lead negotiator for Norway who was assisting with the drafting of the Paris Agreement. This experience confirmed for me that environmental law was the area which I would ideally like to specialise and work in once I returned to Perth.
Working in the legal profession is perhaps slightly different to other areas of work, as without my UWA degree I would not be able to be a lawyer. I do also feel very fortunate to have met many wonderful people while completing my law degree, many of whom I consider to be close friends. We are lucky to have been around to support each other throughout these early parts of our careers.