Your stories—Brad Jessup

From an early age, Brad Jessup was curious about what was going on in the outdoors. And his awareness of the environment led him to study and lecture in this area. We spoke with Brad to find out where this interest comes from, and how he’s helping small and social enterprises advance good environmental and sustainability practices.

You’re clearly passionate about the environment—where does this passion stem from?

I grew up by the beach, about 90 minutes from the city. So I enjoyed being outside and was curious about the processes I could see. The summertime storms, the tides that exposed the rock pools, the annual arrival of Christmas beetles and the chirping cicadas. The emergence of the roadside orchids and the growth of tadpoles into frogs in the creek.

At high school, I really enjoyed geography. I became much more interested in the processes that I could not immediately see: the social and political influences on the environment. I had a couple of exceptional geography teachers. They made me want to learn more about environmental systems, and to look critically at how places are governed and used to achieve community benefits—and to see how we could all make a difference.

This passion has led you to help set up the Sustainability Business Clinic at Melbourne Law School. What’s this about?

The clinic provides free legal advice to community and social enterprises that are using business to achieve environmental improvements and sustainable futures.

We’ve provided free advice to thirty odd groups, including solar energy co-operatives, free food community associations, and waste recycling start-ups.

The clinic was set up with a friend who I practised law with. She saw a gap in the legal services sector. Small and social enterprises were struggling to get legal advice on technical legal matters at a price they could afford.

We’re trying to fill that gap and encouraging others around the country to do the same.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give to small businesses or social enterprises looking to pursue environmental opportunities?

Be in touch. We’re looking for clients for our next intake. That, and, don’t let perceptions of the law as a barrier limit your ideas or plans. Think creatively and flexibly. The law is, in many respects, facilitative rather than preventative of opportunities. It creates processes designed to advance our public interest and protect us.

If you have options to achieve your goal, your lawyer will be able to help you navigate the law relevant to your industry and business, and let you know what elements of your plans to sweat and what to drop.

My ideal retirement?

I’m almost ready to transition to my retirement. I’m toying with the idea of studying a diploma in landscape design and starting a part-time business co-designing and co-gardening spaces with others who want to learn skills and knowledge. Whether or not this happens, my retirement will be in the garden, by the beach, looking forward to the change of the seasons.