Why an Animal LLM from Lewis & Clark Law School?

Animal Advocates
Bianka Atlas, LLM ‘20

The LLM, or Master of Laws, is a graduate degree in the field of law. The LLM degree is for lawyers who want to advance their career and gain expertise in a specialized area of law. For individuals who earned their law degree outside the U.S. or Canada, the LLM builds international credibility. For individuals who earned their law degree in the U.S. the LLM facilitates specialization in a particular field of legal study.

The Animal Law LLM offered by the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School is for U.S. and international law school graduates who want to focus on animal law in practice, academia, research, or public policy. 

Origins of the Animal Law LLM Program

The Center for Animal Law Studies, or CALS, was founded in 2008 through a collaborative effort between Lewis & Clark Law School and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Lewis & Clark Law School has long been a leader in the field of animal law education dating back to 1992. It is home to the first legal journal devoted exclusively to animal law (the Animal Law Review), the first student animal law organization (the Lewis & Clark Animal Legal Defense Fund), and the world’s longest-running Animal Law Conference.

Today, CALS educates and supports law students and legal professionals interested in animal law through classes, conferences, scholarship, clinical opportunities, and more. It offers both an in-person and fully online Animal Law LLM, which is the world’s first and only advanced legal degree in animal law. 

As the premiere higher educational institution in the world offering an advanced animal law legal degree, CALS collaborates with animal protection organizations in the U.S. and worldwide that are engaged in animal protection work. These connections include externships, internships, networking opportunities, speaking engagements, and more. As an LLM student, you gain access to these networks and the career opportunities they present. Many of our LLM alumni go on to work at animal protection organizations, and some are inspired by their studies with us to launch their own nonprofit organization.

Animal Law Curriculum

Unlike programs that offer limited coursework in Animal Law, the LLM program offers a comprehensive curriculum taught by renowned animal law scholars and practitioners from around the world.

Animal law overlaps with many traditional areas of law, such as torts, criminal, constitutional, and property law. It is rooted in the practical application of statutory and decisional law but also explores legal theory and jurisprudence. Animal law asks fundamental questions about the nature of a legal right or interest. It examines how the law often creates or entrenches power imbalances, and how those imbalances impact animals. 

The Animal Law LLM curriculum includes coursework like the following:

  • Animals in the Law
  • Industrial Animal Agriculture Law
  • Introduction to US Legal Studies (for international candidates)
  • Emerging Topics in Animal law
  • Companion Animal Law
  • Crimes Against Animals
  • International Animal Law
  • Aquatic Animal Law
  • The Law & Ethics of Animal Testing
  • Wildlife Law

Career Outcomes

The Animal Law LLM is a graduate degree for lawyers who want to focus on animal law, and  students are from the U.S. and around the world. The program helps to embed animal law in legal systems around the world. This means that students are given the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of animal law—farmed animal law, criminal animal law, international animal law—and take that knowledge to their country of origin and start or expand animal law there.

Animal law attorney graduates are prepared for advancement in the career path they choose, including specialized practice; policy development, implementation, or enforcement; scholarship or teaching; advocacy; and executive leadership.

Career options for practitioners include:

  • Staff attorney for animal protection organizations—our alumni have gone on to work for organizations such as: the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Humane Society International to name a few.
  • Animal law attorney private practitioner—animal law intersects with many traditional areas of law. You can expand your practice to include areas such as: challenging the treatment of farmed animals; using environmental law to tackle habitat destruction and other environmental harms that also harm animals; protection of wild animals, including captive wild animals and endangered species; tortious injury or death of a companion animal, landlord/tenant issues, estate planning, custody disputes and more.
  • Prosecutor—the enforcement of animal cruelty laws is critical to protecting animals. Our alumni commonly work within the criminal justice system to enforce animal cruelty laws and also to address broader goals such as criminal justice reform.
  • Nonprofit or nongovernmental organization founder—many of our alumni have started their own organizations focused on animal protection in their home countries, including first-of-their kind nonprofits in China, Chile, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe and more.
  • Governmental agencies or public policy relating to animal protection—our alumni hold policy or governmental positions, such as serving as a policy advisor for political parties or candidates committed to animal protection.
  • Nonprofit leadership—in addition to starting nonprofits, our alumni become leaders of existing animal protection nonprofits. Taking the expertise they learn in our Animal Law LLM program, they are equipped to serve in a variety of roles, such as executive directors and regional directors of organizations helping animals.
  • Academia—in addition to working as practitioners in an array of settings, our alumni have also proceeded to hold positions in academia, where they are specialists in the animal law field. Our alumni have become fellows, adjunct faculty, and more, expanding the field of animal law through scholarship, study, and serving as thought leaders in animal law.

Our Alumni

Learn more about what motivated our alumni to pursue an Animal Law LLM and how they are using their degree.

About the Center for Animal Legal Studies LLM in Animal Law

The Animal Law LLM at Lewis & Clark Law School is the world’s only advanced legal degree program in animal law. It is offered in-person and also fully online. The  program is designed for U.S. and international law school graduates who want to focus on animal law in practice, academia, research, or public policy.

Applicants must be a graduate of an accredited U.S. or international law school. In the online program, courses are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to maintain professional, family, and other commitments. Instructors are renowned animal law scholars and practitioners from around the world.

The Animal Law LLM prepares students for advancement in the career path they choose, including specialized practice; policy development, implementation, or enforcement; scholarship or teaching; advocacy; and executive leadership.

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