chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.


Practice Areas & Settings

Nurturing the Future of Animal Law

Tom Linney

Nurturing the Future of Animal Law
SValeriia via iStock

Jump to:

From rescuing lions languishing at a roadside zoo, to ending pigs’ intensive confinement in factory farms, to protecting puppies exploited in puppy mills, animal protection attorneys work in one of the most exciting and fastest-growing legal fields. Even so, much animal protection work would not be possible without the contributions of pro bono attorneys across the country.

Animal Legal Defense Fund Pro Bono Program

The Animal Legal Defense Fund aims to strengthen animal protection laws, provide free legal assistance to prosecutors handling cruelty cases, and nurture the future of animal law. As director of the Pro Bono Program, I work to expand the practice and understanding of animal law in the legal community. We believe our pro bono program is at the forefront, fighting for all animals, regardless of species, by filing groundbreaking lawsuits to stop animal abuse.

In the last decade alone, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has tallied more than 65,000 pro bono hours, and our network now includes more than 2,500 law professionals and 400 law firms. We are the nation’s largest pro bono network for animal protection.

Pro Bono Case Work

Some of the most notable cases in the field of animal law involved pro bono counsel. In the last few years, pro bono attorneys have assisted in the following efforts:

  • stopping the US Department of Agriculture from rubber-stamping license renewals of some of the worst roadside zoos in the country;
  • compelling the disclosure of public records related to taxpayer-funded experiments on infant monkeys that cause extreme suffering;
  • ending California puppy traffickers’ cruel treatment and deceptive marketing and sale of puppies; and,
  • freeing Ricki, a bear held in a tiny concrete cage outside an ice cream shop for years before our lawsuit secured her transfer to a Colorado sanctuary.

Get Involved in Animal Law

If you’re interested in protecting animals and the environment, join the Animal Legal Defense Fund volunteer network

All legal professionals are encouraged to join—recent graduates, seasoned attorneys, and those working in criminal justice, at law firms, or for the government. As a member, you might assist a prosecutor on a cruelty case, co-counsel a class action lawsuit against a dairy company for deceptive marketing practices, conduct background legal research to help us stop a wildlife hunting contest, or file an amicus brief to free an orca from a marine amusement park.

Our volunteer attorneys have access to a variety of resources and expertise. They also receive monthly email updates on recent developments and opportunities in animal law. Every year the Animal Legal Defense Fund honors our pro bono partners in our Advancement in Animal Law Pro Bono Achievement Awards, recognizing the many legal professionals who have contributed to our life-saving work.

Even if you don’t have time to commit to taking on a case, you can still get involved with animal law:

  1. Find out if your regional or state bar association has an animal law section or committee and join. If there’s no existing section, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has resources to help you start one.
  2. Write an op-ed to your local newspaper about an animal law–related issue.
  3. Join the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s email list to stay informed when there are advocacy opportunities—such as calling or emailing your legislator in support of an animal protection bill.
  4. Join one of the ABA’s active animal law committees: the ABA TIPS Animal Law Committee or the ABA International Animal Law Committee.

Whether you’re able to co-counsel on a lawsuit or spend a few minutes to advocate for an animal protection bill, anyone can contribute to animal law