Press Release

The George Washington University Law School Announces Major New Initiative for Animal Law

GW Law, in partnership with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, will develop innovative animal legal education initiatives through scholarship, curriculum development, improved access, and policy.


WASHINGTON — The George Washington University Law School and the Animal Legal Defense Fund have announced today a major new initiative to develop the Animal Legal Education Initiative (ALEI), dedicated to developing animal law as a stand-alone legal discipline that is fully integrated into legal education.

“ALEI will be a unique endeavor in legal education,” said Dayna Bowen Matthew, Dean and Harold H. Greene Professor of Law at GW Law. “While there are a handful of other animal law programs, there is no program focused on the development of a discipline that comprehensively addresses animal law scholarship, curriculum development, and policy. ALEI is designed to fill this void, while simultaneously providing opportunities for students to learn and practice animal law.”

ALEI will provide opportunities for local, regional, national, and international faculty and students to collaborate on the development and integration of a comprehensive body of animal law and increase the capacity for, and rigor of, animal law education.

“Animal law is an emerging field with vast implications for other areas of law,” said Stephen Wells, ​​Executive Director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “GW Law shares our vision for rapid growth and demand for animal law as a discipline, and the importance of structuring ALEI to support advances in animal protection. We are proud to partner with GW Law, whose faculty are already active in teaching and producing animal law scholarship, on the creation of this new initiative.”

GW Law’s strong clinical program and other important programs and centers make it well suited for the anticipated growth of ALEI. As the initiative grows, it will encompass a variety of activities, including the following:

  • Building a comprehensive animal law curriculum
  • Exploring the intersectionality and integration of animal law with other disciplines
  • Building collaborations among animal law faculty, across legal and other disciplines, and outside the academy
  • Developing innovative courses and teaching methods
  • Advancing methods of providing clinical and experiential education and creating experiential opportunities for students
  • Enlarging the body of scholarship
  • Advancing opportunities in animal law that will increase diversity in the academy and the profession
  • Increasing students’ ability to successfully find employment in the animal law field

“The Animal Legal Defense Fund recognizes the continued expansion of animal law requires knowledgeable and skilled attorneys in all facets of law, including civil, criminal, and regulatory law, and in academia. ALEI will be foundational to ensuring animal law is fully integrated into legal education as a legal discipline and that law schools have the resources they need to train animal law attorneys,” said Wells.

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