Pamela Frasch and Kathy Hessler

The Animal Legal Defense Fund would never be able to use the law to advance the interests of animals without the support of legal professionals nationwide. In this continuing series of spotlights, ALDF’s Animal Law Program salutes attorneys Pamela Frasch and Kathy Hessler.

With animal law stories grabbing headlines around the world lately, a venture like the Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS), established in collaboration with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, seems only natural. And it’s even more natural that CALS would find its home at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., where ALDF created its first Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter in 1992.

CALS is an animal law program with a focus on research, scholarship, and experiential education. In addition to training law students for careers as leaders in animal law and public policy, the Center conducts and supports independent legal research. Moreover, it offers recommendations and legal strategies relating to animal law with regard to legislation, administration and litigation. The program has enjoyed tremendous success, and that’s due in large part to the work and talents of Pamela Frasch, assistant dean and executive director of CALS, and Kathy Hessler, clinical professor and director of the Animal Law Clinic at CALS–the only animal law clinic in the country.

“I wanted to make a difference with my legal training, and I always thought it would be wonderful, challenging, and very satisfying to do that on behalf of animals,” says Pamela. “When I first learned of ALDF in the early 1990s, I couldn’t believe my good fortune. To find an organization of lawyers who wanted to help animals was almost too good to be true. Of course, I immediately started working as a volunteer and eventually came on staff in 1996. It’s hard to believe I’ve now been associated with ALDF in one capacity or another for 20 years!”

Kathy came to animal law through her public interest work and passion for social justice. “I began studying peace and nonviolence and saw the violence we perpetrate against animals,” she says. “At first, it was a personal choice to eliminate that violence from my life. Then I looked for ways to use my legal training to help animals. I became involved with protesting hunting and eventually began to write and teach in the area. I was also fortunate to be able to spend time on the board of ALDF and work with other inspiring and committed advocates for animals. It has only been recently–when I came to work at Lewis & Clark–that I’ve been able to work full time in animal law, and it has been a wonderful opportunity.”

Although CALS was founded in 2008, its origins date back to the mid-’90s, when several Lewis & Clark alumni pushed for the school to make animal law more of a focus in its curriculum. They even convinced the school to let them create the first animal law journal, Animal Law Review, and the annual Animal Law Conference.

“Our partnership with ALDF keeps growing stronger along with the program, and we have big plans for the future,” says Pamela. “Most immediately, we have been working steadily to establish the world’s first LL.M. in animal law.” This means the school will be hiring new staff and a visiting professor, offering more classes, and accepting applications from potential students. Moreover, CALS recently established two new animal law scholarships (one is in honor of ALDF Founder and General Counsel Joyce Tischler). “Longer term, we hope to secure funding to hire additional clinical professors and staff attorneys to work with Kathy in the Animal Law Clinic, and funding to establish endowed tenure track professorships in animal law,” says Pamela. “Our website and Facebook pages have a lot of information about what we’re currently doing, as well as our future plans.”

In addition to their tireless work with CALS, Pamela and Kathy were among four authors who recently co-wrote Animal Law in a Nutshell, part of the Nutshell Law series published by Thomson West. “These books are intended to be quick reference books for anyone interested in a particular area of law,” says Pamela. “They are enormously popular with law students, and with anyone else who has an interest in a particular field but doesn’t want to wade through a dense legal tome filled with legalese.”

“Our articles and books are another way to enlarge the conversations about animal law and, we hope, to interest people in the work we are doing at CALS,” adds Kathy. “We are often asked how we are able to do so many new things, and we enjoy talking about the support of our dean and colleagues and our partnership with ALDF.”

Pamela shares her home with two rescue dogs. “Abby, the golden retriever, is almost 11 years old,” she says. “She’s a wonderful old soul who is the best companion you could hope for. My other dog, Max, is six pounds of terrier trouble!” Kathy does not have companion animals in her home, but she and her family have enjoyed being foster parents to a number of (very lucky) cats and dogs over the years.

For more information about Lewis & Clark Law School’s Center for Animal Law Studies, please visit

To become a member of ALDF’s Animal Law Program and assist animals as part of our pro bono network, please complete and return our Attorney Membership Application.

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