On behalf of Generation-R, I would like to talk about heroes...

“Mum, Dad, mother-in-law, father-in-law, rabbis, family and friends. And most importantly, my darling wife. And also, of course, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Hulk, Spiderman. I see all of you out there too. Thank you all so much for being here with us today, for a long overdue celebration.”

Opening lines of my speech at my wedding.
August 2021

1 March 2024 | Twelve minutes

In September 2022, my wife and I drove across the Nullarbor.


We had landed in Australia a few weeks earlier to begin a long-planned year of travel, adventure and self-discovery.


The Nullarbor is a 1,200km stretch of road that connects the town of Norseman in Western Australia to the town of Ceduna in Southern Australia.  Other than a couple of petrol stations, the odd motel, and the world’s biggest golf course (the 18 holes are spread across a cool 1,365 kilometres!) there is almost nothing and no one on the Nullarbor, and to say that you have crossed it is something of a badge of honour amongst Australians.


The name Nullarbor is derived from the Latin nullus ‘no’ and arbor ‘tree’ – and vast stretches of this incredible section of Australia are characterised by an almost complete absence of trees, being covered instead by scree and scrubland, growing on top of this vast stretch of dry and arid country.




Much of the Nullarbor is pancake flat. It was once the sea floor many thousands of years ago!


As we drove along on the third day of our crossing, we noticed something in the distance.  On the side of the road, without so much as a backpack on, was a man, running.  As a keen distance runner myself, and not seeing any sort of support vehicle for this lone nutter in the middle of nowhere, I slowed down and my wife lowered her window to check if he was okay.  We asked if he needed water or anything else, but he quickly told us he was fine and waved us forward. So, we left him be.


A few kilometres further down the road we passed a parked SUV which had been painted in bright colours.  We were driving at 100kph and didn’t get a chance to read what was written on the side of the car properly. But we caught a name, which we wrote down to look up a couple of days later when we were back in civilization (there’s no internet coverage anywhere on the Nullarbor!).


It turned out that we had driven past Nedd Brockmann, a then 22-year-old electrician from a town called Forbes (about 200km west of Sydney). Nedd had set himself a challenge. To become the fastest person ever to run from Cottesloe Beach in Perth, across the width of Australia, to Bondi Beach in Sydney, a journey of almost 4,000 kilometres. The record had stood at 43 days for just over 18 years, and if Nedd was going to beat it he would need to run almost 100 kilometres (or nearly two and a half marathons) every day, for 40 days. In the process, Nedd wanted to raise awareness of homelessness and had set himself the goal of raising a million dollars to support this worthy cause.


As I studied Nedd’s route and progress to that point, I couldn’t believe what Nedd was trying to achieve.  The furthest I had ever run in a day was a not shabby 50 miles (80 kilometres) and I hadn’t been able to run again for at least a week afterwards.


What Nedd was doing wasn’t just impressive. I wouldn’t even call it heroic. It was Herculean.




I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 14 years old.  Whilst I have always had a general awareness of climate change, getting involved in climate change-related work had never been part of my professional plan and it was not until a few years ago that I started to engage with the subject.


I qualified as a solicitor in 2015 and have spent my professional career since then dealing with issues such as bribery, fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. And I loved every moment of it. But as I slowly learned more about climate change through little more than reading books in my spare time, a sense of dread began growing in my mind and my heart. I had a nagging feeling that, however much I was enjoying it, nothing I was doing in my professional career was making any difference concerning climate change, a subject that was beginning to leave me lying awake in bed at night.


If I was being honest with myself, I was making things worse.


My wife and I do not have children. But three years ago my younger sister gave birth to my niece, Clara.  And I started to regularly share a fear with my wife.  “One day” I would say, “when the world is on fire, the climate is a disaster and food and water shortages are a regular thing, Clara is going to say to me: “Uncle Josh. You are smart. You are white and privileged. What did you do about this?”. “And as things stand” I repeatedly told my wife, “I don’t have a good answer for her. And that scares me. Almost as much as climate change itself.”



By 13 March 2023, our travels had taken us to Thailand, and I woke that morning, in Bangkok, to the news that Joe Biden had approved the Willow oil drilling project in Alaska.  Willow was (and remains) highly controversial, as a venture likely to have serious negative consequences for the currently unspoiled arctic wilderness surrounding the proposed drilling site; before we consider the millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide that will be released annually when the oil produced from the site is burned. The project galvanised significant online activism, with more than a million letters written to the White House in protest and (at the time of writing this article) over 5.2 million signatures on a change.org petition against the development.


Seeing the news on my phone immediately put me in a horrible mood, and I said very little to my wife for most of the morning. As it was 40 degrees Celsius outside, we made our way to a shopping mall downtown, where we could spend the day enjoying the much-needed air conditioning. Having not said more than the odd word to my wife for a good hour, I finally boiled over whilst staring at a bowl of rice in the food court.


Are you okay?” she asked me. My eyes instantly filled with tears. I said nothing. She put her arms around me and hugged me tightly.


Are you upset?” she asked.  I blinked through the tears and took a breath.


I think I’m afraid” I finally said. “Even Joe is against us. What chance do we have?


My wife said nothing, she just hugged me tighter still and listened.


One day I will be able to stop it” I told her.  “One day I will have lawyers in New York, DC and around the world, and money in the bank. And I will pick up the phone and simply tell them that this isn’t happening on our watch. One day” I said, “I will be in a position to make a real difference”.



Let me come clean about something. I’m a massive nerd. The theme of my wedding speech was heroes, and I used the occasion to offer some well-earned praise for the amazing things that so many of our guests had done during the Covid pandemic.


After confiding in my guests just how much of a geek I truly am, particularly when it comes to the world of Marvel movies, I said this:


There’s something about the idea of superheroes though, isn’t there?  What might I do if I had the stamina of Captain America or the strength of the Hulk? How exciting would life be if I could fly around like Thor, or if I was a billionaire inventor genius like Tony Stark?  I think the appeal of superhero movies is that, what we really see in these characters, is ourselves. Or at least what we think we could be, if only we had been injected with a super serum or bitten by a genetically modified spider.  We sit and imagine how we would change, maybe even save the world? If only, through some comic book storyline, we had been given the power to do so.


The thing is. As much as these characters might speak to us in their own unique way, even I am aware, they aren’t real.  But if the events of the last 18 months have taught me anything, it’s that actually, real superheroes are out there. They are all around us, hiding in plain sight. They are here with us today, sitting in this very room.  So let me tell you all something about real superheroes.”



A hero is an author like Rachel Carson, who in 1962 published the seminal book “Silent Spring”, raising public awareness of and concern for living organisms, the environment and the inextricable links between pollution and public health.  Silent Spring sold more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries around the world.


Politicians like Senator Gaylord Nelson and Congressman Pete McCloskey are heroes. In 1970 they teamed up to organise the first Earth Day protests, bringing 20 million people (10% of the population of the United States at that time!) out onto the streets to protest against industrial pollution.


A hero is a scientist like Dr James Hansen from NASA, who testified in 1988 before the United States Congress that ”Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and observed warming’‘. In so doing he became one of the first to sound the alarm about the climate crisis on a global stage.


A hero is a filmmaker like David Attenborough, who with the help of his extraordinary camera teams has spent much of his career raising awareness of climate change around the world with stunning documentaries like Planet Earth, which first premiered in 2006 and has since been screened in 130 countries.


A hero is a diplomat like Christiana Figueres, who served as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change between 2010-2016, steering the negotiations that ultimately resulted in the Paris Agreement in 2015.


Heroes are the members of the “We Are Still In” declaration, comprising more than 1,200 governors, mayors, businesses, investors, colleges and universities from across the United States, who in June 2017 committed to hitting the targets of the Paris Agreement, notwithstanding the action that Donald Trump had taken in withdrawing the United States from that accord.


Young people are heroes.  On 13 March 2020, 16 young Montanans aged between 5 and 22 filed a lawsuit alleging that their right to a “clean and healthful environment”, pursuant to the Constitution of Montana, was being violated because of a law that barred state officials from considering climate change in environmental reviews of energy policies. That lawsuit became the first constitutional climate trial in US history, and on 4 August 2023, Judge Kathy Seeley handed down a landmark ruling in favour of these brave young advocates.


Activist investors like the team at Engine Number 1 are heroes. In May 2021, they rallied support from institutional investors to unseat three members of ExxonMobil’s 12-member Board in a bid to get the company to focus more carefully on its decarbonisation efforts.


A hero is a businessman like Yvon Chouinard, who in September 2022 put Patagonia into a trust to fight the environmental crisis, protect nature and biodiversity, and support thriving communities, in an extraordinary act of corporate leadership and responsibility.


Indigenous people like Sônia Guajajara from Brazil are heroes. Sônia was the leader of the Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, “APIB”), an organization that represents indigenous ethnic groups in Brazil. In a landmark case in September 2023, the Supreme Court of Brazil found in favour of the APIB in ruling that indigenous peoples would not have to demonstrate that they were occupying a particular piece of land in 1988 (when the Brazilian Constitution was ratified) to assert a right to that territory. Sônia is now serving as part of Brazil’s recently created Ministry for Indigenous Peoples.


A hero is Licypriya Kangujam, a 12-year-old Indian girl who ran onto the main stage at COP 28 in Dubai holding a sign saying “END FOSSIL FUEL. SAVE OUR PLANET AND OUR FUTURE”. She got a round of applause from many in the conference hall.


And if a 12-year-old can find the courage to demand change before a global audience in that way, what excuse can any of us have for failing to find it within ourselves to take even a small action of our own?




Nedd Brockmann finished his run across Australia in an extraordinary 46 and a half days. At the time of writing this article, he had raised more than $2 million to fight homelessness.  The end of Nedd’s run was broadcast on Australian national television. Bondi Beach was packed with cheering crowds, and as the masses waited for Nedd’s arrival, I noticed that Nedd’s family and friends were wearing matching t-shirts emblazoned with the motto: “JUST KEEP SHOWING UP”.


My wife and I beamed (I may have welled up a little) as we tuned in to watch him finish his extraordinary run. After nearly 4,000 kilometres, Nedd made it, lifting the ribbon above his head and screaming with joy when he finally stepped over the line.


Nedd had a mantra for his run, which he used to sign off his nightly Instagram posts.






Nedd’s Instagram post on the final day of his run. The personification of Aussie grit and determination! 



Getting involved in the work against climate change is scary. Because climate change is scary.


Those of us who have dedicated ourselves to this mission have generally done so because we understand just how much is at stake, and because we are terrified by the consequences of our collectively falling even a little short. We have nightmares about the future of our rapidly warming planet. We imagine collapsing ecosystems, droughts, famines and intense storms. We fear the mass migration of climate refugees leading to social breakdowns or even wars. We imagine the rainforests dying and the ice caps melting and bleached, dead coral reefs as far as the eye can see. We imagine rising sea levels wiping cities, and even island nations, off the face of the earth.


And we wonder what hope we might have of doing anything meaningful about this intensely complex challenge when there are so many immensely powerful vested interests working to preserve the status quo for their own financial interests. We wonder what hope we might have of making a tangible contribution to this appalling problem, knowing that we are the last generation which can do anything meaningful about it.



Whilst we were travelling, my sister gave birth to her second child, my nephew Reuben. I did not meet him until he was three months old when we briefly returned to the UK after nine months away.  When my sister handed him to me, I took him out into the garden in my parent’s home and gave him a long overdue cuddle.  I quietly told him how much I had missed him and how sorry I was that it had taken me three months to be there.  I told him about the places I had seen and the extraordinary beauty of the natural world. I told him about mountains and glaciers and rainforests. About coral reefs and dolphins and whales. About cherry blossoms and kangaroos and tropical birds. And I promised him that I would do my best to make sure that, one day, he would get to experience those things also.


Opening Gen-R Law is the first tiny step in using the skills that I have to keep that promise to Reuben. It is a small start for what I hope will one day be a good answer to a question that Clara will never need to ask me.



Somewhere out there is a team of legal Avengers. And I am coming to find you.


You are a team of exceptional, creative and dedicated lawyers who care passionately about climate change and ensuring that we leave a sustainable future on this planet for future generations.  Many of you are already doing climate-positive work for clients who share our planet-positive values and goals.  And whilst some of you are working at firms that are genuinely supportive of your efforts in this space, most of those firms (in my experience) treat climate change as little more than a marketing and business development opportunity, rather than the existential threat to all of us that it truly presents.  It particularly troubles me, on a personal level, that some of you, especially if you are more junior and not in a position to push back, are finding yourselves required to work on mandates that you believe will harm the planet and its natural environment, for companies that do not share our climate-conscious world view.


I hope to create a home for all of us at Gen-R Law, which truly shares our mission, vision and values.  A place where every lawyer, in addition to being an expert in their chosen area of practice, is genuinely knowledgeable and passionate about addressing climate change.  A place where our combined passion for the topic and legal expertise might spark innovative legal thinking that is unlikely to flow from a less dedicated environment. A natural legal partner for ambitious green-tech start-ups who want to change the world for the better, and a go-to legal partner for established companies who want to reimagine their business model to drive sustainable long-term value creation for all stakeholders, in a climate-friendly and planet-positive way.


Nothing about any aspect of this will be easy.  But like Nedd Brockmann, we will keep showing up.


We will keep showing up until the planet goes carbon negative and nature positive. Until we have achieved a re-imagined and truly equitable circular economy and a sustainable global food system which is regenerative of our nature depleted landscapes.  Until we have realised the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals.


And once we have achieved all of that, we will double down and work even harder, to fix the damage caused to our planet by the excesses of previous generations.


And in the inevitable moments when we feel afraid or overwhelmed or exhausted or even hopeless, we will remember Nedd’s second piece of advice. We will learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable.  Because if you keep showing up, and you get comfortable being uncomfortable, anything is possible.


Even something as utterly ludicrous as running across the width of Australia, in just over 46 days.



As of 9am on 4 March 2024, after more than a year of imagining, planning and eventually building, Gen-R Law will be open for business, as an authorised and insured law firm, ready to do its part in the work against climate change.


I cannot help but smile when I imagine what I hope this firm will one day look like. A melting pot of thousands of brilliant legal minds in dynamic offices all around the world, collaborating to help our clients use every legal tool and lever available to drive our collective progress towards a more sustainable tomorrow for future generations. Heroes who are willing to step up to this most daunting of challenges. Determined optimists who will keep showing up no matter what. Who have the courage to get comfortable being uncomfortable.


I cannot wait to meet each of you. To be inspired by all of you. To see what we can achieve together, on the long road ahead.



I ended my speech at my wedding with a toast to the heroes of the Covid pandemic.  If you might indulge me, I would like to end this article on a similar theme.



So please, join me, ladies and gentlemen, and raise your morning cup of tea or coffee, a glass of water, or perhaps, if you are reading this later in the day, a drop of whisky, a beer, or a glass of wine, for a toast that I have been looking forward to proposing for a very long time.


To the scientists. To the filmmakers. To the activists, the teachers and the authors.


To those who have given us the unique opportunity that we have, right now, to choose a better path for tomorrow, and to those who have the courage, to walk the difficult and uncertain road ahead.


To the armies of extraordinary young people who are demanding change, and the nations of indigenous peoples who are standing up to the businesses and politicians who would deny them their lands and their rights.


To a sustainable future for the generation of children that will be born in the year 2100 to whom we dedicate our work.


To getting comfortable being uncomfortable, and to showing up no matter what.


To heroes.


And as always, to my amazing wife, who has given me the opportunity to go on this journey.





And with that, let’s get to work.

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As of 4 March 2024, our doors are officially open! As a new firm, we are not yet in a position to offer all of the services described on this website. We have done our best to make clear what we can do now, and what forms part of our exciting plans for the years ahead.

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