Former Victorian public servant recognised with environmental law gong

By Melissa Coade

July 11, 2022

Matthew Floro
Matthew Floro is the winner of this year’s Mahla Pearlman award. (Supplied)

A legal advocate from the NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) has been named young environmental lawyer of the year for his work on ‘leading-edge’ climate law cases.

Sydney-based Matthew Floro was announced winner of this year’s Mahla Pearlman award on Friday.  He currently serves as president of the National Environmental Law Association and national vice-president of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association.

Law Council of Australia president Tass Liveris said Floro was passionate about the community, and pointed to litigation matters and other social causes the young lawyer has been involved in.

“Mr Floro has been involved in a series of leading-edge climate law cases,” Liveris said.

“These include the Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action v NSW Environment Protection Authority, where the court required the EPA to develop policies to protect the environment from climate change, and KEPCO Bylong Australia Pty Ltd v Bylong Valley Protection Alliance, in which he defended the Independent Planning Commission’s refusal to allow the Bylong Valley coal mine to proceed.”

Floro’s litigation experience has included representing the EDO in cases before the High Court, Federal Court, NSW Court of Appeal, NSW Land and Environment Court, Queensland Planning and Environment Court, and South Australian Supreme Court.

He is a former Victorian public servant has also held leadership roles for professional organisations Out for Australia Victoria, the Australian Law Students’ Association and the Queensland university law students’ society. 

“Floro has also made a significant contribution to the legal profession through his commitment to educating younger lawyers and mentors volunteers at the EDO,” Liveris said.

Every year the LCA’s Legal Practice Section Australian environment and planning law group picks one award winner. Recipients are young lawyers who are chosen for their significant contribution to environmental law and to the legal and wider community. 

Group chair Robyn Glindemann said this year there were a record number of ‘outstanding and inspiring’ candidates for the award.

“Nominees came from around Australia and are focusing their work on important issues such as climate change, Indigenous rights, strengthening the protection of significant natural areas and examining the impact of natural disasters on animals,” Glindemann said. 

Namesake of the award, the late honourable Mahla Pearlman AO, was a former Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales, and former LCA president. 


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