Student Chapter Spotlight

Spotlight: Kelly Shanahan

Kelly Shanahan is a 2021 recipient of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Advancement in Animal Law Scholarship.

Kelly Shanahan is a 2021 recipient of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Advancement in Animal Law Scholarship. This award honors students who demonstrate a commitment to the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s mission: “to advance the interests and protect the lives of animals through the legal system.” Recipients are actively involved in their Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapter while in law school and show promise in the field after graduation.

Kelly Shanahan is a rising 2L at the University of Nebraska College of Law. This past year she served as vice president to her school’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund Chapter, and she plans to run as president for the next school year.

What Animal Legal Defense Fund student chapter activities are you proudest of and why?

I am most proud of the Spring Animal Law Networking event that my chapter was able to co-host with Indiana Law’s SALDF chapter in April of this year. We had five speakers from all different animal law organizations working in various positions, from fellows to legislative advocacy. It was a great event open to attendees from all schools nationwide. And it was incredibly beneficial for someone looking to get into this field to openly discuss with attorneys who have “made it” about their best advice for success. A big thank you to all of the participating attorneys and their respective organizations: Alyssa Sander of ALDF, Elizabeth Baker of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Erin Sutherland of the Animal Welfare Institute, Maral Cavner of Animal Equality, and Will Lowrey of Animal Outlook.

Any other noteworthy experience?

While the COVID-19 law school experience greatly limited our options for events this year, we managed to coordinate and host another virtual function. In October, coinciding with the Speak Out for Farmed Animals week, we hosted a virtual watch party focused on dialogue and discussion of the documentary Cowspiracy and the devastating effects of the current agricultural conglomerates on our world climate. We had hoped for a greater number of attendees, yet all who participated commented on the enrichment and information they acquired as a result of their participation.   I look forward to collaborating with my partners and creating even greater enthusiasm for an in-person experience in the fall of 2021.

What is an animal law related goal of yours for the upcoming academic year?

My first animal law-related goal for the fall of 2021 is the creation, collaboration, and implementation of my first ever in-person SALDF event. Since I was just a 1L this past year, I have yet to experience any in-person SALDF events due to the pandemic. I am beyond excited with anticipation at attending the Animal Law Conference in person alongside a few other members from our chapter.

Additionally, I am looking forward to my coursework. I am taking a Water and Environmental Law Seminar where I plan on writing my seminar paper related to wildlife habitat protection in Nebraska. Additionally, I am taking a Natural Resources class and completing an externship with the Animal Welfare Institute.

What are your plans/goals for post-graduation?

My goal for post-graduation is actually continuing education and enrichment. I plan on obtaining my LLM in Animal Law before searching for a job in the field. Eventually, I plan to both work for an animal law nonprofit and teach animal law as well.

What is one piece of advice that you would like to pass on to other Animal Legal Defense Fund student chapter leaders?

As someone who started law school in a pandemic, I cannot stress enough how important collaboration is with other law school SALDF chapters. While I don’t have any pre-pandemic law school experience to compare it with, this year has taught me the invaluable lessons and power of collaboration. So I urge all future SALDF student leaders to keep this cooperative attitude up! While you plan your events in person, consider adding a live stream or any other Social Media options that will enhance access for other students across the U.S.  These opportunities can exponentially enhance the education and enrichment of others and continue to build relationships with potential future partners.

Learn more about the other 2021 Advancement in Animal Law Scholarship winners.

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