Animal Law Program

ALDF’s Animal Law Program works closely with law students and law professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. Moving toward the day when animal law is part of the curriculum at each and every law school, the Animal Law Program collaborates with students, faculty, and school administrations to facilitate the development of animal law courses and assists students in forming Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapters. Visit our website dedicated to SALDF chapters, or signup to join as an attorney member today!

The Animal Law Program also assists bar association members interested in forming animal law bar sections or committees and partners with pro bono coordinators interested in developing animal law volunteer opportunities at their firms. Furthermore, we provide legal professionals with access to ALDF’s resources and expertise, including model laws, ­pleadings and briefs, and current animal protection laws.

ALDF is proud to launch the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark, a first-of-its-kind collaboration between the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Lewis & Clark Law School of Portland, Oregon. As an academic and practical forum for the burgeoning field of animal law, the Center for Animal Law Studies provides essential programs and services for law students under the guidance of experienced animal law professors and ALDF attorneys. Learn more at the Center for Animal Law Studies website.

What is “Animal Law”?

Animal law is a combination of statutory and case law in which the nature—legal, social or biological—of nonhuman animals is an important factor. Animal law  encompasses companion animals, wildlife, animals used in entertainment and animals raised for food and used in research. Animal law permeates and affects most traditional areas of the law—including tort, contract, criminal and constitutional law. Examples of this intersection include:

  • Animal custody disputes in divorce or separations.
  • Veterinary malpractice cases.
  • Housing disputes involving “no pets” policies and discrimination laws.
  • Damages cases involving the wrongful death or injury to a companion animal.
  • Enforceable trusts for companion animals being adopted by states across the country.
  • Criminal law encompassing domestic violence and anti-cruelty laws.

Currently, animal law is being taught at some of the most reputable and respected law schools in the country—including highly ranked schools such as Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Northwestern, University of Michigan and Duke.

To learn about the early history of animal law, read ALDF Founder Joyce Tischler’s article, originally published in the Stanford Journal of Animal Law and Policy or watch a lecture by Joyce at the University of Chicago Law School about the expanding field of animal law.

Questions? Contact the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Animal Law Program at

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