As Co-President of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapter at Berkeley Law, Matt Hamity has worked to further campus awareness of animal law issues by organizing speaking events on factory farming, animal testing, and the prosecution of animal cruelty cases. His SALDF chapter also helped to organize the inaugural California Annual Animal Law Symposium, where animal law practitioners presented on various animal law topics. In preparing for this conference, Matt had the pleasure of doing research for the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Director of Litigation Carter Dillard regarding his topic: the intersections between consumer protection law and animal law. Most recently, in response to the cruel killing of Turk, the helmeted guinea fowl, his SALDF chapter organized National Anti-Cruelty Day, during which thirty SALDF chapters from across the continent held fundraising events in Turk’s honor with the proceeds going to the ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program. Because this event had the potential to be controversial, Matt took it upon myself to make sure that his SALDF chapter was sensitive to the rest of the Berkeley law community while simultaneously accomplishing their goals of spreading awareness about the seriousness of animal cruelty and raising funds for a great cause.
In addition to his work as SALDF Co-President, Matt has also been serving as Animal Law Professor Bruce Wagman’s research assistant since last summer. By collaborating with Professor Wagman on drafting a law review article that will be published in the Ecology Law Quarterly, Matt has become intimately familiar with the plight of captive chimpanzees as well as the Animal Welfare Act. Matt also drafted research memos for public interest organizations, including the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Nonhuman Rights Project. This summer, Matt will be a legal intern for PETA and a wildlife intern for the Animal Welfare Institute. Additionally, when Matt goes home to Chicago on breaks to visit his parents, he volunteers at Orphans of the Storm, which is both a no-kill and open door animal shelter.
Given animals’ status under the law as property, successful legal claims on their behalf require a good deal of creativity and dedication, both of which Matt has in large supply. Thus, in order to achieve the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s mission Matt will rely heavily upon these assets, as well as his empathy for the pain and suffering that animals endure. When Matt enrolled in law school, he did so because he wanted to become an animal law attorney, and now, almost two years later, Matt is absolutely certain that practicing animal law is what he was meant to do with his life. In the event that Matt is unable to secure an animal law job upon graduation, he will take on animal law pro bono work, patiently waiting until a full-time animal law job becomes available. Matt also hopes to teach Animal Law courses in the future, so that he can share his passion with the next generation of animal advocates.