In fieldwork practicum courses, students participate in weekly seminars and conduct related fieldwork at outside organizations. This fieldwork practicum course explores the process of public interest litigation in an effort to better understand the status and treatment of animals in the courts. Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and also undertake 10 hours/week of fieldwork in the twenty-attorney litigation unit at the Humane Society of the United States.
SEMINAR: The seminar offers a practical survey of litigation and legislative efforts on behalf of animals at the local, state, and national level. The course will address the historical status of animals in the law; the current application of animal protection laws to wild animals, animals confined in factory farms, exhibitions, and laboratories, and companion animals; legislative efforts and citizen initiatives to strengthen animal protection laws; the role of international conventions and other laws concerning trade in animals and animal products; the limitations on implementation and enforcement of animal laws; and the impacts of free speech, religious expression, and other Constitutional provisions on animal protection statutes. Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach that combines administrative law, environmental law, consumer protection, and other related public interest fields, the seminar will examine why some public interest litigation campaigns succeed and others fail; explore how to construct an effective public interest litigation strategy; and teach students how to develop innovative uses of existing laws to expand legal protections for animals.
FIELDWORK: Students will work closely with the Humane Society of the United States’ in-house litigation group to find new and creative ways to ensure that all animals receive the legal protections they deserve. As part of the fieldwork, students will work on a wide variety of cases in state and federal courts throughout the country, including actions to protect cougars, wolves, grizzlies and other wildlife, to curb unscrupulous breeding of, and cruelty to, companion animals, to improve the treatment of animals used in research, and to prevent the systematic mistreatment of animals in factory farms. The docket is extensive and interdisciplinary, and involves cases being pursued jointly with other public interest groups, including environmental protection, consumer protection, public health, labor, and sustainable agriculture organizations.