The Animal Law Center That We Built

Posted by Joyce Tischler, ALDF's Founder and General Counsel on October 23, 2009

Sometimes, it’s the subtle details that hit you right between the eyes. I’ve just returned from the annual animal law conference held at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon and throughout this excellent conference, I felt the presence of something  else… something that is new and wonderful and growing.

One year ago, Animal Legal Defense Fund and Lewis & Clark Law School announced the creation of the Center for Animal Law Studies at that law school. At one hundred other law schools, there is an animal law course and that is exciting. But, with ALDF funding and support from the law school, students at Lewis & Clark find so much more than they can at any other law school in the U.S.

Just a few of the courses and other opportunities offered this year in animal law include:

  • Animal Law: An Overview, taught by Assistant Dean Pamela Frasch and Professor Kathy Hessler
  • Animal Rights Law, taught by attorney and author, Steven Wise
  • Animal Law: Legislation, Lobbying & Litigation, taught by Jonathan Lovvorn and Nancy Perry 
  • International Wildlife Law, taught by Professor Erica Thorsen 
  • Advanced Animal Law Seminar,  taught by Assistant Dean Pamela Frasch
  • Comparative International Animal Law, taught by Professor Peter Sankoff
  • Animal Law Clinic where they have the opportunity to learn from Professor Kathy Hessler, one of the leading law school clinicians in the U.S. and the only clinician experienced in animal law. Students are involved in research and policy work. They file administrative petitions and litigate matters that focus on protecting  animals and preventing or stopping animal abuse;
  • The Center’s Clinical Internship Seminar on Animal Protection Legislation, taught by ALDF’s Stephan Otto, identifies key animal protection legislative needs throughout the country, pairing law students with appropriate legislators to research and draft new and better laws for animals, and providing critical review and analysis of pending legislation; 
  • The Center’s Legal Scholarship Project is creating sophisticated animal law research and writing opportunities for publication in scholarly journals.

We are especially pleased that Lewis & Clark Law School enthusiastically supports our unique collaboration and the development of the field of animal law both in word and action. For example,

  • Pamela Frasch, who worked for ALDF for twelve years before accepting the post as the Executive Director of the Center, was promoted to Assistant Dean of Animal Law–the first such position in the U.S. (and anywhere in the world, for that matter). This is one of only three academic program Dean positions at Lewis & Clark. It is a strong statement of how the law school values animal law as a legitimate field of academic study and views it a key component of the law school’s vision for the future.
  • The Dean of the Law School, Robert Klonoff often publicly praises and promotes the ALDF collaboration with Lewis & Clark and both he and the law school administration are deeply committed to growing the Center for Animal Law Studies. 
  • In addition to the annual animal law conference I just attended and spoke at, the Center sponsors the National Animal Law Competitions at Harvard Law School, where students from all over the U.S. come to compete in oral argument on animal law cases, judged by most of the leading animal law practitioners and scholars in the country. ALDF attorneys are responsible for drafting the problems that the students will argue at the next competition in early February, 2010, and we will also serve as judges at the competition.

There has never been a more exciting time to study animal law, in large part due to the continuing work of ALDF. I am feeling very proud and humbled at this one year anniversary of the Center for Animal Law Studies. The partnership of ALDF and Lewis & Clark is developing a world-class, groundbreaking program to study and develop the field of animal law. Without the creation of the Center for Animal Law Studies, none of the above opportunities would have been in existence. And, oh, have we got plans for the future…