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Dr Rebecca Nelson

BE(EnvEng)(Hons1)/LLB (Hons1) (Melb), DML (German) (Melb), JSM (Stanford), JSD (Stanford)

Rebecca Rev 3

Rebecca Nelson is a lawyer [policy advisor] and legal academic specialising in environmental and water law. She relishes and thrives on scientifically complex matters, combining her multidisciplinary background in engineering and law to solve difficult problems.

She has worked for a wide range of clients, including federal government departments and authorities, multinational companies, environmental NGOs and individuals, across Australia and California. She worked for a number of years in the water and environmental law practice of a major international law firm, including 18 months in-house at the Murray-Darling Basin Commission/Authority.

In 2014 Rebecca was recognised as the Young Environmental Lawyer of the Year (2013-2014) by the Law Council of Australia’s. Where she was described by Greg McIntyre SC, the Chair of the Australian Environment and Planning Law Group of the Legal Practice Section, as:

“a trailblazing environmental lawyer with an outstanding national and international reputation.”

Rebecca’s other honours include a General Sir John Monash Award and the US Ground Water Association’s Farvolden Award. She holds a Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD) from Stanford University, where her dissertation focused on empirically assessing regulatory arrangements for protecting surface water and ecosystems from the impacts of pumping groundwater.

“Rarely does a young lawyer quietly yet relentlessly target an environmental goal and, within a very short period of time, through sheer talent and hard work, make massive legal achievements. Rebecca Nelson is such a person” – Dr Leonie Kelleher

Rebecca is also a Fellow (Non-Resident) of the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, where her work focuses on groundwater law and policy in California and across the Western United States, with an emphasis on empirical research and practical solutions. She also serves as a sessional lecturer in water law at the University of Melbourne and a Director of Bush Heritage Australia. Rebecca publishes and presents nationally and internationally on topics related to water management, rangeland management, invasive species and endangered species.

In 2016 Rebecca undertook a nationwide speaking tour sponsored by the International Association of Hydrogeologists (Australia) and the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, with additional sponsorship by the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (WA), entitled “Regulating the cumulative impacts of groundwater withdrawals: Australia and further afield.”


Outside work, Rebecca delights in family life with her three young children, world music and the occasional spot of farm work in central Victoria.