Northwestern University Law School: Establishing an Animal Legal Protection Clinic

According
to Nicole Roth, former President of the Northwestern Student Animal
Legal Defense Fund, she and her co-authors Annie Wallis and Kathleen
Sanderson, also SALDF members, always possessed an affinity for
animals. Only recently, with the help of a $1 million grant to
Northwestern University School of Law by Bob Barker to endow a more
serious study of animal law, were they able to pursue their interest
academically.

The three of them were enrolled in the animal law
seminar that Mr. Barker’s grant endowed, and through what they learned
in that course and a frustration with the way that animals are treated
in our society, they were inspired to investigate the law further and
examine ways in which students interested in animal law could take
action. From that initial inspiration grew the project being featured
here – both to devise a guide for establishing an animal legal
protection clinic at a law school, and to actually establish one at
Northwestern.

Nicole and her co-authors researched and wrote
the proposal as a joint senior research project, each receiving 4
credit hours. They worked with two faculty advisors: Sam Tenenbaum, an
expert in complex civil litigation and a professor in the Northwestern
Bluhm Legal Clinic, and Leigh Beinen, their professor in animal law.
The approach to this guide was multi-faceted.

First, they
explored generally the field of animal law, what it encompasses, and
why it matters. They then identified the wide spectrum of animal issues
and related laws, performing a survey of the governing statutes,
enforcement mechanisms, and opportunities for improvement in each area.
For each of these, they used Illinois, Cook County, and Chicago as
illustrative examples of the ways that statutes interact at the various
levels and enforcement is actually achieved. In order to flesh out
their understanding of these areas, they conducted interviews of and
gathered information from over 50 professionals in the field, both
within the Chicago area and nationally. These included police officers,
State’s Attorneys, judges, humane organization representatives, animal
law committee chairs, attorneys in private practice, and professors.
These interviews helped to identify the specific areas in Chicago that
could most benefit from the involvement of law students.

Next,
they conducted comprehensive research into the value and validity of
clinical education, including research into clinical programs
nationwide and identification of various clinical models. Finally, they
researched the logistical requirements for establishing a clinic, and
taking these together with the available clinical education models and
our findings about the greatest areas of need, they made
recommendations about the appropriate approach for Northwestern.

Although
they were not initially able to establish a program at Northwestern
before they graduated, Nicole, Annie, and Kathleen were able to
complete the guide. They hope that it can serve as a toolkit for
like-minded students and administrators across the nation in
establishing a variety of legal programs designed to protect animals.
ALDF is pleased to be a supporter of this project. ALDF will be
providing copies of this manual in the coming months.

 

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