Where Are They Now? Tom Linney

Tom Linney grew up in El Paso, Texas, the youngest of nine children, raised by compassionate and giving parents. His family taught him “life wasn’t just about ‘me,’ it was about ‘us,’ and that includes the animals we share our homes and world with.” His father especially had an inner warmness that animals picked up on instinctually, and this gift has been passed on to Tom.

In college, Tom studied Earth Science and completed the University of Texas at El Paso’s Law School Preparation Institute. He also worked for Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid. While a law student at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, Tom attended the Equal Justice Works annual public interest career fair and conference in Washington D.C. where he learned of the challenges animals face in the eyes of the law and the resources ALDF provides to Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapters. Soon after, Tom helped establish UT Law’s first SALDF chapter, successfully petitioned the school to add its first animal law course, and coordinated successful projects as SALDF President.

Tom currently co-hosts a radio program called Animal Concerns of Texas, or ACT Radio, where he says “we bring our listeners the latest news on animals, from local concerns to global issues, from government policies affecting animals to heartfelt stories about animal sentience to advances in the vegetarian movement.” The program also features lively interviews with those involved in animal protection, who work toward the goal of promoting enlightenment in our relations with other species. He loves learning from and talking to guests. “We have interviewed people from all walks of the movement: documentary filmmakers, phenomenal vegan chefs, ministers, a racecar driver, doctors, musicians, authors,” and other individuals who have dedicated their lives to helping protect animals.

ALDF’s SALDF grants program allowed Tom to attend the 2006 Animal Law Conference and the 2007 Future of Animal Law Conference. Tom was also the first student to receive a Baron & Budd Fellowship from UT Law to pursue animal protection work, and served as legislative intern for the Texas Humane Legislation Network. Upon graduating, he received the University Co-op Public Interest Award in honor of his extraordinary commitment to public service. He says “for me and so many others interested in using the law to help animals, ALDF has been there to offer guidance and support every step of the way. I hope to pay that back in my own way as ALDF’s pro bono coordinator.”

“Tom continues to create new strategies to support attorneys and law firms interested in dedicating their time and expertise to animal law issues,” says Pamela Hart, director of ALDF’s Animal Law Program. “His tremendous contributions bring ALDF one step closer to realizing our mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system.”

Tom encourages young attorneys to take on pro bono work because it can be a training opportunity that allows them to engage in types of legal work not otherwise available to them, and because working for the public good will improve their connections in the community. While it’s an ethical obligation of the profession, Tom also feels it’s an ethical obligation to the world.

“Injustice obviously doesn’t just stop at humans, it affects all animals,” says Tom. When attorneys take on a case pro bono, even a few hours of work can lead to a lifetime of improved care for an animal. “If as an attorney you work to free a bear from a lifetime of intense confinement, or shut down an inhumane puppy-mill operation, or simply help a local animal rescue group obtain nonprofit status, you grow as a person and a professional. At ALDF, we strive to inspire others to do this pivotal work in their community through ALDF’s pro bono attorney network.”  Tom travels across the nation presenting this message to law firms, state bar associations, and SALDF chapters. When he is home in Texas, he lives with his family which includes rescue dogs Rhea, Athena, and Titan, and rescue cats Josette, Hello Kitty, Captain America, and Hulk.

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