The name of the organization might vary depending on geographic location. For instance, it may be called an “animal law society” or “association” or “section.” But the common denominator is that each is a professional society of lawyers dedicated to the study and understanding of the intersection between the law and animals, often with the aim of improving the welfare of animals in society. Typically, they are housed in larger bar associations whose organizational structure accommodates special interest sections and committees. They work for animals in a variety of ways, ranging from direct advocacy to development of educational materials and publications. They also often host meetings and events on particular subjects in animal law.
To see if there is an animal law section near you, Animal Legal Defense Fund has a site with several listings, including numerous state animal law committees for those who live in the U.S. Here are a few groups on our radar.
- The Animal Law Committee of the American Bar Association. Housed within the Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Section, this committee is open to attorneys and others inside the U.S. and abroad. Its mission is to “address all issues concerning the intersection of animals and the law to create a paradigm shift resulting in a just world for all.” The committee hosts a number of professional development events, drafts animal protection resolutions, produces books and other publications, and hosts public service events, among other activities.
- The Animal Law Section of the Ontario Bar Association in Canada. Formed in 2012, this section provides a number of professional development opportunities, such as conferences, legal resources, and legislative and policy updates.
- The Animal Law Committee of the Law Society of New South Wales. Housed in the New South Wales Young Lawyers Division, this committee was initially established as the Animal Rights Committee. Among other activities, it hosts information sessions and conferences and makes submissions to governments on proposed legislative amendments.
- New Zealand Animal Law Association. This association is a new coalition of over 100 attorneys specializing in different fields, who come together to improve the welfare and lives of animals throughout the legal system. Its activities include promoting positive legislative reform, providing free legal assistance to animal protection organizations, and assisting with animal cruelty prosecutions.
Whether you’re a professional at a nonprofit looking to brush up on your knowledge, or an expert in the field who can lend your insight, animal law sections and societies are definitely worth exploring.
Top right: A diverse group experts from the animal protection and transportation safety sectors discuss urban wildlife management at a June panel discussion hosted by the Animal Law Committee of the New York City Bar.
Bottom right: This past June, I was pleased to present at an event hosted by the Kentucky Bar Association’s Animal Law Section.