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Center for Animal Law Studies

Animal Law Clinic

Professor and Clinic Director Kathy HesslerProfessor and Clinic Director Kathy Hessler


The Animal Law Clinic (Clinic) at the Center for Animal Law Studies works on local, national, and international animal law issues in addition to working with the state and local community. Students conduct research, represent clients, and work on clinic projects to develop the field of animal law and encourage consideration of the interests of animals in legal decision-making. Clinic work includes: policy, legislative, transactional, and administrative law work; occasional litigation work; research; advocacy; and strategic planning. When appropriate, students also work with other lawyers as well as community members, veterinarians, scientists, economists, and other professionals.

Clinic Work

The work of clinic students includes: research, analysis and writing; petitions to state and federal agencies; comments on proposed regulations; FOIA and state public records requests; legal investigations; presentations to law students, clients, and community groups; responses to media requests for information; drafting and reviewing organizational policies; drafting legislation and lobbying; amicus briefs; and researching and drafting complaints and motions. Students also write policy papers, blog posts, guidance documents, items for newsletters and law review articles.

The Clinic is designed to help students develop their legal research, analysis, and writing skills while also learning about drafting, strategic decision-making, litigation, negotiation, mediation, ethical practice, and advocacy. The Clinic provides an opportunity for students to gain real-world experience working with clients as well the chance to develop their professional skills.

The Clinic offers students a unique opportunity to help clients develop strategic approaches to address problems and meet their goals within an area of law that is continuously, and sometimes substantially, evolving. In order to meet the challenges this work presents, students must assess what legal frameworks currently apply, consider creative application of legal principles from other areas of law, and suggest entirely new laws, regulations, guidelines, or legal approaches. In addition the direct support Professor Hessler provides students for this work, she also offers them access to the leading scholars, professors, and organizations engaged in animal law work in the U.S. and around the world, as well as prominent scientists, veterinarians, researchers, economists and other professionals.

The work of the Clinic has resulted in published law review articles for students and Professor Hessler and has also led to opportunities to present work at conferences in the U.S. and other countries. Some Clinic students have also been able to obtain jobs with Clinic clients or with others as a result of their Clinic work.

Student Information

The Animal Law Clinic is a year-long course for which students will earn 6 credits. Students will participate in a weekly 2-hour class covering substantive issues and lawyering skills; meet weekly with the clinic faculty to discuss their work; and spend an average of 8 - 10 hours per week on clinic work. The Animal Law Clinic is a credit/no credit course with no final examination or paper requirement.

While the clinic will not include a separate ethics portion for credit, students will be exposed to, and will learn about professionalism and ethics, which is critical to being an effective legal advocate. Students are encouraged to obtain certification, but it is not required.

Animal Law Fundamentals (449 A) is a pre/co-requisite for the Animal Law Clinic.

Contact Professor Kathy Hessler for more information.

Read Professor Kathy Hessler’s article, The Role of the Animal Law Clinic, 60 J.LEGAL EDUC 263 (2010)


Read what former Animal Law Clinic students have to say about their experience: