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Student Animal Legal Defense Fund
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Animal Legal Defense Fund
The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law has partnered with the Animal Legal Defense Fund to create a student chapter of the national non-profit group, whose mission is to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. With the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s support, students at the school’s new chapter will join the ranks of hundreds of other student chapter members nationwide, taking on projects such as: advocating for the addition of animal law courses to curriculums; hosting speakers, debates, panels, and conferences; writing law review articles for journals dedicated to animal law; tabling on campus to raise awareness about animal issues; and volunteering to do legal research and writing for local law firms.

In 2000, only nine law schools offered courses in animal law; today, the list has grown to over 135. The first Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapter was established in 1992 at Lewis & Clark Law School; 15 years later, there are more than 175 chapters at law schools throughout the U.S. and Canada, at top schools including Yale, Harvard, Stanford, NYU, and Northwestern. 

What is animal law?

More and more law students and attorneys are looking to use their degrees to protect and advance the interests of animals, and to recognize that, despite animals’ legal categorization as "property,” there are special relationships between humans and animals that the law should account for. Animal law is a combination of statutory and case law in which the nature – legal, social or biological – of nonhuman animals is an important factor. Animal law encompasses companion animals, wildlife, animals used in entertainment and animals raised for food and used in research. Animal law permeates and affects most traditional areas of the law – including tort, contract, criminal and constitutional law.

"SALDF chapters are an instrumental part of a growing national movement towards recognizing the important body of law known as animal law,” explains Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. "An SALDF chapter can be a powerful forum on campus for education and scholarship aimed at understanding this area of law and the impact it has on animals. Most importantly, SALDF chapters are in a unique position to powerfully advocate for changing laws to better protect animals.”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, please visit

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