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Animal Law Clinics

Animal Law ClinicProfessor Kathy HesslerProfessor Kathy Hessler


The Animal Law Clinic (Clinic) 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:
  • “Many students, myself included, discover that legal clinics are central to our education. They are a setting to develop legal skills, to reflect on our strengths, limits, and preferences, and to work directly with clients. I enjoy Kathy’s teaching and relational style that blooms from compassion; it sprouts compassion in me. I appreciate that she encourages us to think carefully about what goals we seek, the means we use to pursue these goals, the context of the world in which we live and work, and what makes us happy. I enjoy the focus on cooperative relationships and cooperative problem‑solving. 

    I had a great experience as a legal intern with the Animal Law Clinic. I would recommend it to everyone interested in protecting animals and advancing animal interests. At Lewis and Clark, this is a large number of students, and I would like the Clinic to be able to take on more student applicants.” - Lindsay Tallon, JD 2013

  • “I highly recommend the Animal Law Clinic at Lewis & Clark College of Law. The Clinic has not only given me practical legal experience in the area of Animal Law, but has also broadened my perspective about ways to approach problem solving within the legal system. I am confident I will utilize these skills throughout my career.” - Christina Kraemer, LLM 2014

  • “I had a great experience in Animal Law Clinic. I loved that I was able to work with actual clients and get real world experience. It was also a great networking opportunity because I was able to make contacts with animal law nonprofits and show them my work. Kathy’s experience and advice were immeasurably valuable in helping me prepare to be a future attorney. Overall, it was one of the best and most helpful classes I took during law school.” - Kelly Lavenda, JD 2013

  • “I joined Animal Law Clinic in 2012 and found it to be a highly rewarding experience. Kathy Hessler is an intuitive professor who can gauge the amount of support each student needs. If a project seems especially challenging, she will lend a high level of support. If not, then the student can act as independently as she feels is appropriate. So too with the selection of the cases the student will take on. If a student has a project in mind, Professor Hessler is open to taking on that caseload. If a student is short on ideas, exciting cases are at the ready.

    I handled two cases during my semester. One was what I would have expected because farm animals were the clients. Another was “surprisingly human,” to borrow Animal Planet TV’s slogan, because the animal welfare aspect was more indirect: a human client’s vegan diet was at issue. Each case was intriguing and worthwhile, and a noble cause to get behind.

    I always looked forward to the weekly seminars because it gave me the opportunity to become familiar with even more interesting cases that my colleagues were working on, and because Professor Hessler always came prepared with a diversity of novel topics relevant to our study.

    Animal advocates in law school like myself tend to focus on the animal welfare aspect of things rather than on the legal aspect. Animal Law Clinic is a unique opportunity to achieve one by means of the other. It’s the optimal way to assist in the practice of law while working to help our non-human animal, as well as our human, clients.

    I recommend the Animal Law Clinic without reservation to anyone considering it.” - Santiago Vazquez, JD 2012

  • “The Animal Law Clinic allowed me to work on projects that made me proud and excited about my legal education. I explored several areas of law that I would not have had the opportunity to learn about were it not for the ALC. My experience in the ALC helped me secure my current job working for an animal advocacy organization, where I use the practical knowledge I gained in the ALC every day.” - Michelle Pawliger, JD 2013

  • “Why Clinic?

    The default law school curriculum focuses on the whats and whos of the law: what the rule on a given issue is, who valid parties are, and so forth. My experience in Animal Law Clinic went beyond, and was hugely helpful in fleshing out the hows, whys, and whens of legal practice. Doing hands-on legal work for clients illustrated how we apply legal knowledge and skills to the critical tasks that make up legal practice. Additionally, Animal Law Clinic provided myself and other participants with an intellectual space where we could discuss and learn techniques and strategy to be more effective advocates for our clients and better attorneys in practice: the whys which underpin good legal practice, and the whens that inform strategic advocacy. The sort of experience garnered in Clinic is critical to developing the suite of skills necessary to succeed as a legal practitioner.

    What to Expect?

    First and foremost, expect to be swiftly immersed in legal work: you will be regularly communicating with clients, and tackling both the big-picture concerns your clients’ projects focus on, and the minutia without which no legal argument can long survive. As you continue through Clinic, expect to get a sense of the scope and pacing of legal projects: how to maintain and shift your time as different projects require more or less immediate focus. Expect to learn about the field of animal law beyond your client projects: you will be discussing the current state of the field, its historical and present challenges, and how the work of the Clinic and other practitioners fit into the long-term growth of the field. Finally, expect a rewarding experience: prior to entry into the Animal Law Clinic, I had done legal work and made court appearances, and nonetheless found that Clinic provided me with the opportunity to do new types of legal work, giving me direct experience with fresh issues, for clients that I would otherwise not have had the pleasure of working with.” - David Rosengard, JD 2015, LLM 2016

  • “The Animal Law Clinic was the most enriching experience during my time spent at Lewis & Clark Law School. The exercises and conversations we had in class, and the assignments we were given during the week not only improved my lawyering skills but also my research and drafting skills.  We worked on many subjects, from dealing with a client to creating a nonprofit, which put into practice what I had learned in other classes, while complementing it.

    I greatly appreciated the fact that the Kathy encouraged us to work independently while also promoting team building. She pays close attention to our career and academic choices, and provides lifelong advice.

    The Animal Law Clinic is an essential step for anyone interested in pursuing a career as a lawyer, or as an academic. I believe the Animal Law Clinic could also benefit students whose main focus of studies is not animal law.  Finally, as a foreign student, I strongly encourage students who have completed their legal studies abroad to take this class, so they may experience some of the finest instruction in the American system.” - Alice DiConcetto, LLM 2016

  • “My experience working with the Animal Law Clinic was the highlight of my law school career. The clinic afforded me the opportunity to gain practical experience working on real-world animal welfare issues. Because Animal law is a multi-disciplinary field, clinic students may work on problems involving everything from constitutional law to contracts. I would recommend the clinic to any law student interested in improving the lives of animals and seeking a wide breadth of experience.” -  Pete Castleberry, JD 2011

  • “I think this clinic offers practical experience for any student and is especially helpful for those students hoping to enter the animal law field after graduation. The opportunity to work for the very organizations that may hire us one day is very exciting. The skills we learn while working on actual issues in the animal law field are invaluable and give me a sense of what I may actually be doing for a career someday. Plus, having an excellent and extremely knowledgeable professor is fantastic! I would definitely recommend the clinic to anyone interested in gaining experience in the animal law field.” - Danielle Holt, LLM 2014

  • “As a practicing attorney, I believe that clinical experience is something that should be offered in any law school curriculum. The Animal Law Clinic at Lewis and Clark, supervised by Professor Hessler, provides students with a degree of professional autonomy and responsibility that is otherwise unavailable to inexperienced attorneys during their first several years of practice. To me, this combination of doing important public interest work and obtaining significant experience in the field of animal law is invaluable.” - Alena Eckhardt, LLM 2014

  • “I specifically came to Lewis and Clark because I was interested in animal law, and wanted to take the nation’s only animal law clinic. The decision became solidified when I first met with Kathy Hessler. She was warm and friendly, and welcoming, and I could tell that she was willing to accommodate students at all levels of their development. Since I have been enrolled in the clinic, I have participated in the early stages of research and strategy for litigation on the behalf of the clients we take on. The CALS clinic is in a unique position to position itself at the forefront of animal welfare, while at the same time teaching students how to be an effectual attorney in the field of animal law. I think it would be great if the animal law clinic expanded and was able to add litigation into its caseload. This would be beneficial to students because then they can see first-hand, what happens in a lawsuit. The clinic is a great way for students to get some practical experience in such a new developing field of law, and an expansion will only further the clinic’s goal of promoting animal welfare and student education. I highly recommend this experience to others.” - Jamie P. South, JD 2014

  • “The animal law clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School was likely the course in law school that most prepared me for practice as an attorney. Professor Hessler guiding us through client relations and the associated work for the clinic’s clients was extremely insightful and helpful to me as a soon-to-be attorney. The knowledge and experiences Professor Hessler imputed to us during the clinic were extremely valuable to me as I started meeting with clients as an attorney just a few short months later (on animal and other legal issues). In addition to excellent coverage of the nuts and bolts of client relations and the quality and standards of work for clients, the clinic, of course, helped me learn how to counsel clients in areas of law the client and I both feel strongly about – animal advocacy. In summary, the Animal Law Clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School prepared me in many ways to be an attorney advocating for animals and to be an attorney in general. I am in my third year as an attorney and am still finding myself recalling skills that were taught to me in the clinic. I would highly recommend this clinic to any student, especially those interested in animal advocacy.” - Mark Jordan, JD 2011

  • “Participating in the Animal Law Clinic was the best decision I’ve made in preparing for both a career in animal law and as a lawyer in general. I came to Lewis & Clark because I had always hoped to build a career in animal law. I was aware of Lewis & Clark’s leadership in the field and wanted to participate in the Clinic specifically because I knew I would need real-world experience as a starting point for my future career. During my time in the Clinic, I not only got to work with real clients on important animal law matters but I also learned new ways of approaching and handling the issues facing animals from a legal perspective. From working with members of the community to find ways of addressing the negative effects of local industrial food animal operations to partnering with a national farm animal protection organization to file a federal petition for rulemaking with the United States Dep’t Agriculture, I developed confidence in my ability to meaningfully participate in the developing field of animal law.

    The Animal Law Clinic provides a wonderful atmosphere for developing a student’s legal skills. I was able to be a part of real-world animal law practice where I could interact with and provide representation to clients under the supervision of Professor Hessler. Additionally, during the Clinic’s classroom component, I was able to collaborate, brainstorm and strategize with my fellow clinic students and Professor Hessler in an open and comfortable environment so that I could confidently and professionally develop ways to accomplish the goals of our clients and further legal protections for animals.  The Animal Law Clinic is the perfect opportunity for a student to gain practical experience while still having the benefit of mentorship and support on a step-by-step basis.  The Animal Law Clinic quickly immersed me into field of animal law and provided me the necessary tools to be both an effective and responsible lawyer and animal law practitioner.  As a result, I was able to extend my development through a fellowship with Clinic after graduation, which ultimately led to the fulltime animal law and advocacy position I was seeking when I enrolled at Lewis & Clark.” - Alison Longley, Environmental LLM 2010

  • “Animal Law Clinic was one of the most valuable courses I took in law school. Through Clinic, unlike any other law school course, I dealt with real-world clients and real-world legal issues, and I learned lessons that I carry through to my job today. Clinic also provided a unique “safe” space for discussion and problem-solving—a safety net that new lawyers rarely have when dealing with legal issues for the first time. Professor Hessler is a true teacher and mentor who bridges current case issues with larger life lessons for a legal career and beyond. I would highly recommend the Animal Law Clinic to anyone who wants to gain real legal experience while still in law school, regardless of the legal field he/she plans to enter.” - Lora Dunn, JD 2013

  • “The Animal Law Clinic was an invaluable part of my education at Lewis & Clark. The Clinic provides a practical component to our studies and helps build confidence in students before graduation.  It also helps build relationships with the community and I recommend it to all animal law students.” - Mitzi Bolanos, LLM 2013

Animal Law Clinics

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