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Center for Animal Law Studies

Diego Plaza

  • Nina Johnson

Diego Plaza Casanova (Viña del Mar, Chile) was awarded with the International Society for Animal Rights LLM Scholarship. Diego studied Law in the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, where he received his Bachelor in Legal Science degree. While studying in Law School, Diego and other students self-managed the first student group dedicated to the study and discussion of animal law/ethics related issues, which was the seed of the actual Animalist Studies Group. After becoming a Lawyer, he volunteered in the Legal Unit of Animal Libre -an International NGO that pursues the respectful treatment and moral consideration towards animals-, participating in the drafting of local ordinances projects regarding responsible pet ownership. Diego worked in a Civil Court of Law of Santiago de Chile for over three years, collaborating with Judges in legal research-related functions and the drafting of written judgments. While working in the Judiciary, Diego obtained his Environment and Sustainable Development degree from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.               

Diego is currently an Animal Law LLM candidate (2020), is part of the Animal Law Clinic, working under the guidance of Professor Kathy Hessler, and participates in researches regarding North American aquaculture, dog breeding, Chilean “Victorias” (horse-drawn carriage) and Chilean salmon farming.

Currently, for me, the anthropocentric and utilitarian conception that society tends to give to animals, as well as the treatment that this entails in practice, constitutes an unbearable cause of existential discomfort. I think that such cultural conception, as well as every other cultural institution, is likely to change if we put enough effort into it and contribute to the social change.        

I decided to study this Animal Law LLM in Lewis & Clark because of its unique nature, which lets you create your own program according to your interests and professional aspirations, gathering the best professors in the area, while combining dynamic and dialectic lectures with clinics and professional practice.           

My long-term aspirations consist of being able to contribute to the dogmatic and scientific development of Animal Law in my country, and to lead concrete efforts regarding animal welfare. To that end, I dream of creating an NGO dedicated to this purpose, to also serve as a center for animal law studies, of free and private legal advice, and as a coordination center for multidisciplinary cooperation, gathering volunteers and professionals from different areas, and spreading out its activity in different levels of action. I also dream of creating the first Animal Law Course in Chile, under the premise that teaching this study area in Law Schools is essential for the developing of the field, for the enrichment of the discussion, and for the welfare of non-human animals.”