The PILP stipend program made it possible for me to spend the summer working in Washington DC at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). As one of the world’s leading animal welfare organizations, IFAW works in more than 40 countries to safeguard wild and domestic animals. With international headquarters in the United States and representation in 15 countries, IFAW works both on the ground, in judicial proceedings, and in the halls of government, promoting practical solutions to animal welfare and conservation challenges that advance the well-being of animals.
I chose to clerk at IFAW because I wanted to get some hands on experience working to establish stronger wildlife conservation policies and animal welfare laws. I also wanted to develop a broader understanding of the hurdles an international nonprofit faces in animal protection and learn more about what systems we have in place nationally and internationally to safeguard endangered species. With the guidance of one of IFAW’s staff attorneys, I was able to expand my understanding of the applicable US laws and management strategies, and the effects the international negotiating process has on domestic standards.
Over the course of the summer, I worked on a range of projects involving state and federal wildlife policy. I spent a lot of time researching and writing about the ownership of exotic pets, particularly tigers, in the US and evaluating strategies to develop more stringent regulation for these animals. I also had the opportunity to attend meetings of the Endangered Species Coalition, which is a series of nonprofits working together to strengthen the ESA. I attended a Senate briefing on the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act, which is new legislation that IFAW is trying to pass, and assisted IFAW with background research in support of a biodiversity campaign focused on the United Nations Earth Summit in 2012. I learned how IFAW collaborates with government officials and other nonprofits to legislate and lobby for animal protection and I became more familiar with international legal issues affecting wildlife by participating in their weekly staff meetings.
The PILP stipend gave me the financial ability to travel to DC and spend the summer working on the issues I came to law school for. Working at IFAW was an amazing experience, and I feel very lucky to have been able to contribute to such a great organization. I could not have done it without PILP. Thanks PILP!