Animal Law is an exciting and challenging field, with an ever-increasing number of cases and laws; growing public and practical interest; and significantly different historical, legal, and philosophical foundations than other law specialties. The Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) at Lewis & Clark Law is a leader in the field and offers the most extensive animal law curriculum in the world. While the availability of courses in animal law is far more common than in the past (today more than 160 American Bar Association-accredited law schools offer at least one such course), graduate students who wish to specialize in animal law may not have had access to a course prior to their advanced degree studies. Therefore, all students in our online program begin their studies by taking our Animal Law Fundamentals course during their first semester. The course provides students with a solid foundation in animal law.
What Do Students Learn in the Animal Law Fundamentals Course?
Animal Law Fundamentals provides students with the opportunity to learn the basics of animal law by examining the application of law to non-human animals, the rules and regulations that govern their treatment, and the concepts of “animal welfare” and animal rights.” Animal Law Fundamentals is taught by Pamela Frasch, Professor of Law and the Brooks McCormick Jr. Scholar of Animal Law and Policy. Among her many achievements, Professor Frasch served as general counsel for the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), and created the ALDF Criminal Justice Program in 1996. Professor Frasch is the principal author of Oregon’s first felony anti-cruelty law and has been recognized by the Association of American Law Schools, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Oregon Humane Society for her work. Professor Frasch co-authored the first animal law casebook, Animal Law: Cases and Materials, which is now in its sixth edition. She was also the world’s first person to be appointed to be a Dean of Animal Law, a position she held at Lewis & Clark Law School from 2010 to 2020.
Animal Law Fundamentals pushes students to explore the historical and philosophical treatment of animals and assess how this affects how judges, politicians, lawyers, scholars, and laypeople see, speak about, and use animals. Students who take Animal Law Fundamentals will gain a number of critical skills, including the ability to:
- Examine, analyze, interpet, and assess the extent to which the law adequately protects animals at present with reference to ethical and policy analyses of human and animal relationships
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the fundamental laws that relate to animals and human relationships with animals in the U.S. and around the globe
- Develop a sophisticated appreciation of the ethical assumptions and cultural norms driving the way the law currently governs relations between humans and animals
- Be an engaged participant in debates regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field, such as whether and how the law should grant rights to animals, whether farmed animal welfare regulation should be reformed, and whether it is possible and/or desirable for the law to encourage a transition out of animal use for food, scientific testing, and other commercial purposes
Students leave Animal Law Fundamentals with an in-depth understanding of the complex legal issues animals face, and will be equipped with the tools needed to develop even more specialized knowledge.
The course covers a wide range of topics, such as: assessing animals’ treatment as property in the legal system and animals’ roles in constitutional, contract, and tort law. The course also examines different types of animals, including farmed animals, wild animals, animals in research, and companion animals. The course is largely focused on animals within the United States legal system, but it also has a unit that focuses on animal law globally.
Of the importance of the course, Professor Frasch says: “Animal Law Fundamentals is one of my favorite courses to teach because it gives students access to the entire field of animal law and the tools to appreciate the overlapping complexity of any number of related legal and philosophical concepts. This understanding is key to productively engaging in our more specialized courses, and creates a foundational framework to which students can return when learning new and emerging animal law theories.”
Careers Advocating for Animals in the Law
Lewis and Clark’s alumni protect animals through their work at a number of organizations and careers in the U.S. and worldwide. CALS has more than 60 LLM alumni from over 20 countries. Both the MSL and the LLM 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. Our first class of MSLs started in Fall 2022, and you can see the diverse experience and background they share here.
Truly Distinctive Degrees
Lewis & Clark’s online advanced degrees in Animal Law are unmatched. Both degrees are groundbreaking: the LLM is the world’s only advanced legal degree in animal law for lawyers, while our MSL is the first animal law master’s degree in the United States. The Center for Animal Law Studies commits to training the next generation of animal law advocates; the highest priority is advancing animal protection through education and the law.
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. Examples of courses that students in the LLM and MSL program may take are: Animal Law Fundamentals, 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. Students graduate with a thorough, expert, and extensive knowledge of animal law plus practical skills ready to apply to current issues.