January 07, 2016 Articles

Of Eggs and Hens: Pro Bono Opportunities in the Area of Animal Law

Pro bono opportunities for associates in animal law are as wide-ranging and diverse as the opportunities in other legal practice areas.

By Molly L. Wiltshire

Pro bono opportunities for lawyers at all stages of the profession need not be limited to legal assistance for humans. Attorneys who practice animal and environmental litigation know firsthand the breadth of opportunity for legal work in these fields. To the uninitiated junior litigation associate, though, it may come as a surprise that animal law is a growing practice area and that there are animal law opportunities for direct litigation experience, through traditional and pro bono engagements. One example of pro bono animal law, defense of farm animal protection legislation, is discussed below. Animal law spans an especially wide range of legal issues covering virtually every way in which animals are used in society. Pro bono opportunities for associates in animal law are as wide-ranging and diverse as the opportunities in other legal practice areas.

Over the past five years, my firm has represented the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) as a defendant or intervenor-defendant in four separate legal attacks on California’s Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act (Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 25990–25994) and its companion law, known as AB 1437. As detailed below, three of the four challenges have been defeated, and the last is currently pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeal has attracted national media attention, participation by multiple state attorneys general, and several amicus curiaebriefs.

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