LLM Global Environmental Law and GovernanceNicola Sharman

Tell us a bit about yourself...

I studied Scots law at undergraduate level and continued afterwards to train as a solicitor, qualifying in 2015. I then worked in commercial property law for almost four years before leaving my firm to commence my full-time LLM at Strathclyde in 2019.

Why did you choose to study for the LLM Global Environmental Law and Governance?

I decided I wanted to pursue a change of direction in my legal career, moving away from the commercial sphere and into an area that I had a stronger personal passion for. Strathclyde’s LLM in Global Environmental Law and Governance offered me the chance to apply my legal skills to the environmental issues that I care deeply about, as well as to expand my horizons towards international opportunities.

What attracted you to Strathclyde specifically?

Strathclyde’s Centre for Environmental Law and Governance has an extremely strong international reputation for research in environmental law.

What was the highlight of your time at Strathclyde?

Having the opportunity to study alongside such a diverse range of people, from different countries, at various stages of their life and with different career ambitions, was amazing. I think we learnt a lot from each other.

Tell us about your dissertation research...

My dissertation explored the possibility of applying legal concepts of benefit-sharing to states' technology transfer obligations under the international climate change regime. Benefit-sharing is used as a conceptual tool in other areas of international environmental law (such as biodiversity law and the law of the sea) and thus my research considered whether framing climate technology transfer between countries as the sharing of development benefits could potentially add value to the regime.

Have you come across any challenges during your studies, and how have you overcome them?

The course work itself was often very challenging. But I think that the way in which the course was designed, so as to encourage discussion, cooperation and debate within a friendly environment, really helped me as a student to engage with the issues. This not only helped me to build my knowledge base in understanding the core content of the course, but also to further develop many transferable skills such as critical legal analysis, presentation and collaboration.

What would be your advice for people considering taking this course?

If you possibly can, embrace any additional opportunities you are offered beyond the parameters of the core course work. On my LLM course, all students were offered the opportunity to contribute to some of the wider activities of SCELG – an initiative designed to give us practical research experience. I took the opportunity to provide assistance on a new project assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on island communities and their recovery plans, which gave me the chance to build my skills in research collaboration, learn how to work with stakeholders and understand how research can be translated into policy-relevant and actionable outcomes. Having this experience taught me a great deal and being able to add it to my CV was invaluable.

What do you think of the support available?

I really felt that the LLM students were warmly welcomed into the wider SCELG research community through the various activities that we were encouraged to take part in beyond our core coursework, from participating in regular research and discussion groups, to having the opportunity to assist on specific research projects, to attending events and social meet-ups. These extra things not only helped to build my skill set, but also instilled a sense of value and confidence.

What are your ambitions for the future?
I recently started a PhD position with the University of Eastern Finland, where I will be researching the role of public participation in the international climate change regime. I didn’t envision myself continuing on to do a PhD when I began my LLM, but I enjoyed my studies at Strathclyde so much I’m now delighted to be continuing down the academic route!