Professional Legal Resource

Clerkships, Externships, and Volunteer Opportunities

Summer, Fall, and Spring

Each summer, fall, and spring several promising law students are given the opportunity to be trained by top experts in animal law through the Animal Legal Defense Fund Clerkship, Externship, and Volunteer Program. Clerks, externs, and volunteers are integral members of a program team and work on projects that further the current work of the program and advance the mission and goals of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. They also participate in activities that will allow them to network across the organization with Animal Legal Defense Fund staff and other students and engage them in the mission and goals of the organization. These positions are remote. Specific responsibilities vary by program; see detailed program descriptions below.

If we are currently hiring clerks, or accepting externs or volunteers, postings can be found here.

Animal Law Program

The Animal Law Program works with law schools, students, and faculty to advance the emerging field of animal law. Clerks, externs, and student volunteers may:

  • Complete an annual animal law course audit;
  • Manage law school contact lists;
  • Assist with Animal Law Academy webinars;
  • Complete research for state CLE events; and
  • Update resource materials as needed.

We also currently have a special aquatic animal law opportunity in the Animal Law Program to complete research for an upcoming Aquatic Animal Law Textbook. Students will:

  • Engage in legal, factual, regulatory, and policy research relating to a wide variety of aquatic animal law issues; and
  • Prepare written work products.

Litigation Program

Positions are available in the Animal Legal Defense Fund Litigation Program, where the primary focus is on civil animal law issues. This position provides an immersive experience in the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s cutting-edge civil Litigation Program to protect animals and advance their legal interests. Students will:

  • Complete legal and factual research;
  • Prepare a variety of written work products; and
  • Work with Animal Legal Defense Fund attorneys in developing new civil cases.

Criminal Justice Program

The Criminal Justice Program provides trial-level assistance to criminal justice professionals striving to secure justice for animals victimized by crime; produces amicus curiae briefs in cases implicating the position of animals within criminal law; supports legislative efforts to improve animal cruelty laws; educates criminal justice practitioners about the juxtaposition between criminal law and animal law; and crafts legal arguments calling for changes in how criminal jurisprudence relates to animals.

Criminal Justice Program clerks, externs, and volunteers will:

  • Complete legal and factual research;
  • Prepare a variety of written work products; and
  • Assist Animal Legal Defense Fund attorneys in both responding to a range of crimes against animals, and broadening the ability of animal law to secure just outcomes for animal victims.

This position will involve a variety of projects. Some assignments—such as motions and legal memos—will be responsive to the needs of immediate cases. Others—such as resource guides, position statements, and model laws—will be longer-term efforts to create systemic improvement in how the criminal justice system anticipates, prevents, and responds to instances of unlawful animal cruelty. In addition to the general qualifications listed above the Criminal Justice Program prefers applicants who have a sincere interest in the criminal justice system and related law.

Legislative Affairs Program

Clerks, externs, and volunteers in the Legislative Affairs Program will gain experience with and knowledge of animal protection issues, campaigns, and advocacy while improving skills in research, writing, legislative analysis, coalition-building, and lobbying strategies. They will be responsible for assisting the Legislative Affairs Program in developing and implementing resources and strategies to further legislative goals. Specific duties may include:

  • Researching policy issues (developing issue briefs, analyzing state legislation or regulation, and assisting with administrative work);
  • Preparing correspondence and assist with outreach to supporters, coalition partners, and public officials, including elected and appointed officials;
  • Attending virtual public hearings, coalition calls, stakeholder meetings, lobby day(s), lobby 101(s), conferences, and other events;
  • Collaborating with Communications and other departments to propose, draft, proofread, edit, and update content on priority campaigns for the website, including project pages and online action centers, email action alerts, phone banking scripts, etc.;
  • Coordinating with other programs, including with the Criminal Justice Program and Litigation Program staff on cases related to legislative campaigns; and
  • Preparing and delivering virtual presentations for lobby 101(s) or other advocacy trainings for advocates, professional conferences, fundraising events, etc.

This position also requires the ability to communicate effectively with members, supporters, co-workers, coalition partners, and public officials and to tactfully manage challenging questions or opposing viewpoints from the public or public officials. Experience with legislative advocacy is preferred.

Pro Bono Program

The Pro Bono Program works to expand the practice and understanding of animal law in the legal community. Students will complete research on law firms, bar associations, CLEs, and various opportunities and issues in animal law.

Clerkship Terms

Animal Legal Defense Fund offers full-time remote clerkships in the summer. Clerkships are full-time, for a period of 10 weeks starting in May or June 2023. The wage is $20/hour. Check the posting for information on eligibility.

Externship & Volunteer Position Terms

Externships are remote experiential learning opportunities for which students receive academic credit from their law schools. Some externship requirements may vary based on specific law school requirements. Volunteers include students who can receive pro bono credits for their law schools and students whose schools provide a public interest stipend.

Application Dates

Please reference the postings for application due dates.

Three summer clerkships are generously funded by Mr. David Reuben, a long-time Animal Legal Defense Fund supporter, who shares our mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system.