Animal Welfare Lawyer

In the traditional sense, animal law covers the rights of animals. Non-profits fighting against whaling in Japan or the use of exotic animals in circuses or the length of stay before animals are euthanized in shelters are all parts of animal law. Lawyers at animal welfare agencies are working to improve the lives of animals. A new branch of animal law is also on the rise. It can include custody decisions in divorce cases, housing disputes when pets are not allowed in certain buildings, and wrongful death or injury to a pet.

In recent years, working on behalf of animal rights has become a growth opportunity. More and more nonprofits are either hiring outside lawyers on a case-by-case scenario or are employing full-time lawyers.

Like animal welfare economists, animal welfare lawyers can earn a decent living. However, you will make more money in private practice or working for a large corporation. Those who go into this profession do it because they are passionate about animals and want to improve the lives of animals.


Because of the growing interest in animal welfare issues, many law schools are adding animal law to its curriculum. Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Northwestern, University of Michigan, and Duke are just a few of the ninety-two law schools that teach animal law. Animal law committees have recently been added to many state and local bar associations. Animal law covers tort, contract, criminal, and constitutional law.

To become an animal welfare lawyer, you will need a four-year bachelor's degree from an accredited college, and you should have a high GPA. After college, you will have to study for and take the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). You can take courses that will prepare you for the test.

After passing the LSAT, you should apply to at least three different law schools. Admission is not impossible, but it can be tough. Good grades are essential to being accepted. Make sure the schools you apply to are recognized by the American Bar Association (

Law school is a three-year program. While you are in law school, get involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible. Look for internships or write for the school's law journal. As with any career, being a well-rounded individual helps to land a job. After you graduate, you will receive a Juris Doctor (JD) degree. Then you have to pass the state bar association exam. Each state's bar requirements differ, so check with the bar association in the state where you want to be licensed to find out about fees, dates of exams, and other information.


Who founded the Animal Legal Defense Fund?

In 1979, Joyce Tischler, a lawyer, created the Animal Legal Defense Fund to promote the field of animal law and to protect and defend animals.

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