Where Should You Go To Law School?
When considering where you should attend law school, you may want to go to a school that has an animal law course and a Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapter. Today, there are over 150 schools that offer at least one animal law course, and this list continues to grow. Comparing this number with 2001, when there were only nine classes, you will get a good idea of how rapidly this field is emerging. If the school you would like to attend does not offer an animal law course, you can help facilitate getting one added to the curriculum. Currently, there are over 203 SALDF chapters in the U.S. and internationally. Similar to the number of animal law courses, this list is growing all the time. If the school you would like to attend does not have a SALDF chapter, you can start one!
Besides researching which schools offer animal law classes and have SALDF chapters, the best advice is to get a well-rounded legal education, as animal law intersects many traditional areas of the law such as torts, constitutional law, criminal law, wills and trusts, contract law, and family law.
Many students wonder whether they should attend a more prestigious, highly ranked law school that has neither an animal law course nor an SALDF chapter over a less well-ranked school that may have one or both of these things. This is an individual decision that each person must answer for themselves based on their financial situation, plans after law school, career goals, and many other factors. Our advice is to get the best education that suits your individual circumstances. Regarding which electives to take while in law school, this will depend upon your interests and where you would like to focus your practice. Animal law, as stated above, is relevant to almost every traditional area of the law. For more information, check out our Animal Law 101 page.
Finally, Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, has been a leader in animal law since the early 1990s and currently offers the most extensive program in animal law studies. In 2008, ALDF launched the Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS), a first-of-its-kind collaboration between the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Lewis and Clark Law School. As an academic and practical forum for the burgeoning field of animal law, CALS works to ensure animals’ interests are considered in the legal realm and provide the best education to the next generation of animal law attorneys. CALS is the only legal and academic think tank and training program in the world for students interested in animal law. CALS also offers many summer courses in animal law. This is a great way to expand your knowledge of animal law beyond what may be offered at your school. Lewis and Clark Law School also offers a Certificate in Animal Law for its students through the Environmental Law Program, and an LL.M. in Animal Law, the first advanced legal degree in this field.
If you would like to help advance the interests of animals through the legal system, but are not sure about attending law school, you should consider other jobs that can still make a difference. Animal law and animal protection nonprofit organizations offer jobs in many different areas, such as communications and marketing, writing, event organization and coordination, development, outreach and advocacy, and office administration.
We hope this has offered you some guidance in making your decision. Good luck!