November 04, 2022

Celebrating 30 Years of Progress for Animals

Started by students right here at Lewis & Clark Law School, the nation’s premier Animal Law Conference is kicking off today and celebrating 30 years!

In 1993, a group of Lewis & Clark Law School students hosted a half-day event that focused on the methods of reforming wildlife management practices. The field of animal law and the Animal Law Conference as we know it today would have then been unimaginable.

Back then “animal law” was just getting its wings. From a small group of lawyers meeting weekly in San Francisco and eventually forming the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) in 1979—animal law has grown exponentially. As Joyce Tischler, ALDF founder and now a Professor of Practice at Lewis & Clark, once said, “No one person can build a social movement. Animal law is the product of the unique and varied talents of many committed individuals…” And with the amount of passion that has been supplied to the animal protection movement, it is no surprise that the Animal Law Conference has reached its 30th year in operation.

Over the course of three days, this year’s Animal Law Conference showcases an impressive array of speakers addressing a wide variety of topics. The Conference, offered in-person in Portland and online this year, will kick off with a welcome from Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) Executive Director and Assistant Dean, Pamela Hart, and ALDF Executive Director, Stephen Wells. Together, CALS and ALDF now co-host the conference annually. See the history of the ALC here.

The theme: Building a Brighter Future, will mark the progress the field has made in the past 30 years, with a vision toward the future of animal law. Speakers will address: challenges in advancing protections for farmed animals; surpassing the challenge of standing and lack of personhood for animals; alternatives to using animals in research; reimagining sanctuary; wildlife caught in human conflicts; ethics for animal lawyers; the future of animal law education and youth movements, and so much more. There will be a special welcome video from Dr. Jane Goodall and a keynote from Miyoko Schinner, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Miyoko’s Creamery. Recognized by the United Nations as a ‘Vegan Revolutionary’ in its ‘The Future of Women’ global initiative, Miyoko has been named one of Forbes 50 Women over 50.

That the Animal Law Conference grew from a “first” in animal law at Lewis & Clark Law School is not surprising when one considers the long list of “firsts” that followed here. The year after the first conference, Lewis & Clark established the first ever animal law journal—the Animal Law Review, which focuses exclusively on animal law issues and is still in publication today. In 1998, the first animal law course was offered at Lewis & Clark, making it only the ninth course of its kind in the United States. The firsts continued when, in 2008, via an innovative collaboration between the law school and ALDF, they launched the first academic center devoted to animal law–the Center for Animal Law Studies.

Today, Lewis & Clark Law School has the most robust animal law curriculum anywhere, offering over 25 approved animal law courses through CALS. In 2012, CALS launched the world’s first (and still only) Animal Law LLM Degree, allowing international and U.S. lawyers to specialize in animal law. In 2022, the degree offering was expanded to launch the first Master of Studies in Animal Law (for non-lawyers) in the United States. Both degrees are now offered in-person and online. With over 50 advanced degree alumni from more than 20 countries and growing, CALS has expanded the reach of animal law across the globe.

The momentum of the animal law movement has continued to thrive since those early days when students hosted a half-day conference. This weekend, over 300 in-person guests, and hundreds more online, will come together to look toward the future of animal law. Dean Hart says “This Animal Law Conference is such an incredible example of the power of the Lewis & Clark community to spark meaningful change by embarking on creative new ideas and showing leadership at every step. We’re all so proud to celebrate this anniversary year!” From what was once a handful of law students trying to start a conversation about wildlife protection to a nationally renowned conference drawing 500 attendees from around the world, we’ve come a long way and have demonstrated the power of animal law to improve the lives of animals.

A special thank you to this year’s ALC sponsors: The Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law & Policy, Carol House Furniture, and the Allegretti Foundation.

The Center for Animal Law Studies

The Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) was founded in 2008 with a mission to educate the next generation of animal law advocates and advance animal protection through the law. With vision and bold risk-taking, CALS has since developed into a world-renowned animal law epicenter, with the most comprehensive animal law curriculum offered anywhere. In addition, CALS is the only program that offers two advanced legal degrees in animal law (an LLM degree and a Master of Studies degree for non-lawyers, both degrees are offered in person and online) and multiple animal law clinics and experiential learning opportunities. CALS’ Alumni-in Action from more than 20 countries are advancing legal protections and making a difference for animals around the world.