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Animal Legal Defense Fund – Tribal Member Diversity Scholarship Program

The $25,000 scholarship is available to an enrolled member of a U.S. federally recognized tribe who is enrolled in any U.S. law school, and includes a clerkship with the nonprofit.

Purpose

The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s mission is to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system, including by providing resources and opportunities to law students and other legal professionals to advance the field of animal law. The Animal Legal Defense Fund aims to increase the diversity of legal professionals advocating for animal protection across the United States. Our mission will benefit from increased numbers, including voices from all communities representing the broad diversity of America. Increasing diversity will strengthen our movement by increasing innovation, informing decision-making, and furthering our reach, ultimately enhancing our ability to protect animals and defend their interests.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund believes strongly that providing resources and opportunities to members of historically disadvantaged and marginalized communities is critical to our mission. Even though animal protection issues are equally prevalent in these communities, members of these communities are vastly underrepresented in the animal protection movement. The Animal Legal Defense Fund believes we must provide opportunities to members of these communities who can develop into strong animal law advocates.

Thus, we seek to remove barriers that may exist for members of any particular community to become legal advocates for animals. In furtherance of this goal, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has embarked on initiatives designed to increase the diversity of animal law advocates, including this scholarship program.

Award

The Animal Legal Defense Fund Tribal Member Scholarship will be a gift of $25,000 payable to the student in two equal payments(Fall and Spring semesters) to offset the student’s law school tuition, textbooks and/or living expenses. Interested students will apply during their first year of law school for a scholarship to be awarded for their second year. In addition, the student recipient will be eligible to clerk with the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Criminal Justice Program during the summer following their second year and have the option to continue as a semester clerk during their third year.

Clerkship

The Animal Legal Defense Fund clerkship program provides law students with the opportunity to be trained by top experts in animal law while working on real animal law cases and legislation. Attorneys in the Animal Legal Defense Funds’ cutting-edge Criminal Justice Program’s have expertise in criminal animal law, including in-the-trenches prosecution experience. Their work includes trial-level assistance to criminal justice professionals striving to secure justice for animals victimized by crime; amicus briefing in cases implicating the position of animals within criminal law; support for legislative efforts to improve animal cruelty laws; educating criminal justice practitioners about the juxtaposition between criminal law and animal law; and crafting novel legal arguments calling for changes in how criminal jurisprudence relates to animals.

This clerkship will provide the recipient the opportunity to work with Animal Legal Defense Fund attorneys on a variety of projects to respond to a range of crimes against animals and broaden the ability of animal law to secure just outcomes for animal victims in state, federal, and tribal jurisdictions. On some projects, the recipient will be assisting with Animal Legal Defense Fund response to the needs of immediate cases, while on others the student will be assisting with longer-term efforts to create systemic improvement in how the criminal justice system anticipates, prevents, and responds to instances of unlawful animal cruelty. Depending on the interests and background of the recipient, specific Indian/tribal law experiences may include analysis of applying different levels of animal cruelty law (federal/state/tribal) to various actors and fact patterns; preparation of judicial bench books and prosecution guides for tribal jurisdictions; outreach to tribal government to offer support in specific cases; expanding the Animal Legal Defense Funds’ model criminal law package to include model tribal laws; and writing an article and publishing/presenting in relevant venues such at the National Native American Law Enforcement Association or the Native American Humane Society. Clerks work full time during the summer (35 hours/week for 10 weeks) and can also work part-time during the academic year. All clerkship positions are normally paid, but at the discretion of the student’s law school, may be structured as unpaid credited externships instead.

Eligibility

To receive an Animal Legal Defense Fund Tribal Member Scholarship, an applicant must be an enrolled member of a U.S. federally recognized tribe. The student recipient must successfully complete their first year of law school with a 3.0 GPA, be in good standing, and be eligible to work in the United States by the time the first scholarship funds are disbursed. The student recipient must be an active member of their law school’s Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapter, or must commit to joining, starting, or reactivating a Chapter. The Award Judges will evaluate each application and consider such factors as demonstrated interest in animal law, a background in historically disadvantaged or underrepresented communities related to animal protection, academic achievement, work and life experiences, leadership, and non-academic contributions.

Application Process

To be considered for an Animal Legal Defense FundTribal Member Scholarship, an applicant must submit: (i) a completed application form, (ii) resume, (iii) law school transcript, and (iv) 1 recommendation letter. The complete application package must be mailed or e-mailed on or before June 1, 2021 to Priscilla Rader Culp, Animal Legal Defense Fund Education Program Manager, prader@aldf.org. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

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