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Important Dates

Fall Semester Begins

August 12th, 2024


Fall Application Deadline

May 19th, 2024

Earn your LLM or MSL in Animal Law through Lewis & Clark Law School’s Online Programs

The Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) at Lewis & Clark Law School offers advanced degrees in animal law for lawyers and non-lawyers alike! 

Animal Law WebinarCALS’ Master of Laws (LLM) program is designed for individuals who have a law degree qualifying them to practice as a lawyer or judge in their country. CALS’ Master of Legal Studies (MSL) program is designed for non-lawyers who have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. or international academic institution. Both programs are offered in person and online.

Both the LLM and the MSL programs are applicable to a wide variety of areas, including animal law legal practice, teaching, research, academia, policy, and more. The online program is designed to be accessible and flexible for students who have professional or personal obligations. Additionally, all candidates to both programs are automatically considered for scholarship support. 

CALS hosted a webinar highlighting the online LLM and MSL programs. Watch the full webinar to get all the details and to hear the entire Question and Answer session. If you don’t have time to watch the full webinar, this blog provides a quick overview of some of the need-to-know information about CALS and our online advanced degrees in animal law. 

Play Video about Animal Law

About CALS
CALS was founded in 2008 as a collaboration between Lewis & Clark Law School and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. CALS’ mission is to educate the next generation of animal law advocates and advance animal protection through the law. Lewis & Clark Law School is home to a number of firsts in animal law, including: 

  • First legal journal devoted exclusively to animal law (Animal Law Review)
  • First student animal law organization (Lewis & Clark Animal Legal Defense Fund)
  • World’s longest-running animal law conference (The Animal Law Conference), co-hosted annually with the Animal Legal Defense Fund
  • First Dean of Animal Law
  • Most extensive animal law curriculum in the world — including more than 25 diverse animal law courses
  • First and only advanced legal degree in animal law (LLM)
  • First MSL degree for animal law in the U.S.

About the Animal Law LLM

The in-person Animal Law LLM was launched in 2012, and the online LLM was launched in 2021. CALS has more than 50 LLM alumni from more than 20 countries. Admission to the program does not require a LSAT or GRE score, but does have an English proficiency requirement for international candidates. To satisfy this requirement, English must be the primary language of the applicant’s legal education and one of the following additional requirements must also be met: (1) English is the official language of the applicant’s university’s country or the university is accredited by a U.S. regional agency; (2) an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 8; or (3) a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 100.

Among the factors considered in an applicant’s application: 

  • Scholarly capacity
  • Skills as a lawyer
  • Academic performance
  • Work history
  • Strength of references
  • Engagement with animal law issues

Required application materials for the LLM program:

  • Statement of interest
  • Resume
  • Transcripts from all institutions of higher education
  • One letter of recommendation
  • International students: English proficiency

About the Animal Law MSL

Both the in-person and online MSL program were launched in the fall of 2022. Much like the LLM degree, no LSAT or GRE is required to apply. Moreover, the English requirement set forth above for the LLM also applies to the MSL.

Among the factors considered in an applicant’s application: 

  • Scholarly capacity
  • Academic performance
  • Work history
  • Strength of references
  • Engagement with animal law issues

Required application materials for the MSL program:

  • Statement of interest
  • Resume
  • Transcripts from all institutions of higher education
  • One letter of recommendation
  • International students: English proficiency
  • Writing sample

How Are Alumni Using Their Animal Law Advanced Degrees? 

As noted above, CALS has more than 50 LLM alumni from over 20 countries around the world. Our advanced degrees equip alumni to use their knowledge, skills, and training to protect animals and they do so in a wide variety of ways ranging from nonprofits, to government agencies, to academia, to private law firms, just to name a few. To see more about how our LLM alumni are using their advanced degrees to help improve the lives and legal interests of animals, visit our Alumni In Action page.

Select Q&A from the Webinar:

Is experience studying or practicing animal law required to apply?

It’s ok if you don’t have direct experience in animal law, as CALS recognizes that not all applicants will have taken animal law courses or will have had the opportunity to practice in the field. That said, be sure to explain your interest in animal law and animal protection in your letter of interest. The more specific you can be about why you want to study animal law and how an advanced degree in animal law will impact your career, the better. 

What do Scholarships cover?

For online LLM and MSL students, scholarships typically cover partial or full tuition costs. Scholarships do not cover other costs, such as books or related materials. Additionally, online degree scholarships do not cover flights or lodging because the expectation is that online students can take the course from where they are currently living and would not incur travel costs. 

Is there a GPA requirement to apply to either program? 

While there is no minimum GPA to apply, grades are a factor in the evaluation of applicants.

Do students need to maintain a certain GPA to keep scholarships? 

All scholarship students must meet academic performance requirements to maintain their scholarships. The requirements vary depending upon whether a student is from the U.S. or is an international student. International students in either program and all MSL students do not have to maintain a certain GPA because their classes are taken on a “credit, no credit, honors” (pass/fail) basis. However, international students in either program and all MSL students must pass (60% or higher) every course to keep their scholarships. LLM students from the U.S. must maintain a 2.5 or higher GPA throughout their time in the program to keep their scholarships. 

Why does the grading system differ for MSL and International Students? 

The grading system takes into account that MSL and international students do not have the same familiarity with U.S. law and U.S. legal study that JD and U.S. LLM students do. By removing pure letter grades assessments for this group, the system ensures that these students do not feel pressured to compete, while also recognizing with an “honors” designation outstanding work in the course if an MSL or international student would have earned a B+ or higher. 

For MSL Applicants, what do you look for in a writing sample? 

Only the MSL program requires a writing sample. The goal of the MSL writing sample is for the Admissions Committee to obtain a strong sense of the applicant’s ability to engage in academic writing, since so much of the online program relies on the written word. Papers written by the applicant while in undergraduate school are perfectly acceptable, even if the paper is 5-10 years old. The writing sample should be 10-20 pages long. Applicants are welcome to contextualize their writing sample with an introductory paragraph if desired. 

How long does the program take start-to-finish? 

Students are generally expected to complete the program in 18 months (four consecutive terms, for example: Fall; Spring; Summer; Fall)

Can you “underload” and take less classes than recommended each term? 

Yes, but doing so would require flexibility from the student, as courses are available on a particular schedule. As a result, a student choosing to take fewer courses than is recommended will take longer to graduate and the course may not be offered again for some time.  

Are there electives?

Right now the program is tightly structured so there are no elective classes. CALS hopes to eventually have one elective option occasionally in the cycle, but that is not currently available.

What topics are covered in the degrees? 

The courses that currently comprise the advanced degree program are: Animals in the Law, Aquatic Animal Law, Companion Animal Law, Crimes Against Animals, Emerging Topics in Animal Law, Global Wild Animal Law, Industrial Animal Agriculture Law, International Animal Law, and The Law & Ethics of Animal Testing.

How well do the advanced degrees transfer internationally, since many courses have a domestic U.S. focus?

Historically, 30-40% of the students in both programs are international students. Therefore, many courses incorporate at least a few international issues and topics within their curriculum. Additionally, the advanced degrees provide an outstanding legal foundation to build upon for international candidates. 

What does the “work-life balance” look like?

The online program is designed to be flexible. Many students have other obligations (family, work, etc.) that they undertake while enrolled in the program. Online studies require significant work, but it is doable as the courses are taught asynchronously so that students can balance their schedule. Most classroom modules open on Fridays, so many students use the weekend to get ahead and get their work done for the coming week.  

What do finals look like?

Finals vary class-to-class. Some classes have finals, some have shorter assignments throughout the term, some have final projects.

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