“We clasp the hands of those that go before us, and the hands of those who come after us.”

Posted by Joyce Tischler, ALDF Founder and General Counsel on October 20, 2008

Those words, written by Wendell Berry, summarize my feelings about the 16th Annual Animal Law Conference held at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, this past weekend.

I had the opportunity to spend time with two dear friends, Steve Wise and David Favre, both of whom I first met in 1981, both of whom have served on the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s board of directors and both of whom have distinguished themselves as giants in the field of animal law through their law review articles and books. I also spent time with some of the second generation stars of the animal law movement: Professor Paul Waldau, Professor Rebecca Huss, who served as the Special Master in the Michael Vick case, Kathy Hessler, Nancy Perry of HSUS, and  attorney/author Bruce Wagman, among others.  And, I met many eager and committed law students who are attending law school in order to practice animal law in the future. Three generations of animal law enthusiasts met at the beautiful wooded campus of Lewis & Clark Law School to share our ideas, discuss the latest issues and form the bonds that will enable us to work together to protect the interests of animals.

It was an excellent conference, by any standard, with sophisticated topics and top of the line speakers. Soon, you will be able to download podcasts of the conference panels at the Center for Animal Law Studies website. (Stay tuned for details!) Lewis & Clark Law School has been a leader in animal law education since 1992, when Nancy Perry, then a law student at the school, founded the first student chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Nancy and her classmates quickly followed that accomplishment with the founding of an animal law class and finally the creation of the first scholarly journal devoted to animal law issues. Each of those groundbreaking programs is still thriving and growing at Lewis & Clark. ALDF has proudly supported these efforts from the start, providing funding to print and mail the law journal and working with the students to assure a high quality conference. Pam Frasch, who was part of ALDF’s senior management staff, has taught the animal law class at Lewis & Clark for ten years.

This conference heralded an exciting new collaboration between Animal Legal Defense Fund and Lewis & Clark Law School and a new era in the field of animal law: the establishment of the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark. The center will expand the teaching of animal law far beyond what presently exists today. It will provide clinical opportunities in litigation and legislative drafting, fellowships and visiting scholar programs. Pam Frasch has transitioned from her role at ALDF to serve as the Center’s executive director, and Professor Kathy Hessler, former associate director of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Conflict and Dispute Resolution at Case Western Reserve School of Law and a former board member of ALDF, will serve as the Center’s clinical director. Laura Handsel will round out the staff of the center, providing administrative support. Robert Klonoff, the dean of Lewis & Clark Law School has committed himself to help build the Center, so that Lewis & Clark will be the preferred destination for all law students who wish to study animal law.  Frankly, if I were starting law school today, Lewis & Clark would be my first choice!

It has been a very special weekend. My voice is hoarse from talking to so many people in the last two days and my body is tired, but my mind is racing through “to do” lists of the many activities we are planning. I can’t wait to share with you all that the Center for Animal Law Studies, Lewis & Clark and ALDF will achieve over the next few years. Stay tuned, because we will be reporting on some very exciting developments in the near future!