Want all your clients to be innocent? Become an Attorney and Practice Animal Law!
What it's Like to Represent Tribes and Help Animals by Rob Roy Smith, Partner, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
“I have had the honor of representing Indian tribes, tribal businesses, and individual tribal members for 14 years. There are so many ways lawyers can help both tribal communities and animals. Animals play an especially important role in Indian history and culture, and the value of animals to Indian tribes is reflected in every aspect of culture, from song and dance to land use and treaty rights. Whether it is through animal protection statutes, annual salmon ceremonies, or managing endangered species reintroduction efforts, tribes and their lawyers frequently fight to protect habitat for wild animals and ensure protections for the animals themselves. I have also remained active in the animal rights community, most recently providing pro bono legal assistance to activists in Seattle, Washington who ultimately seek the transfer of elephants kept in captivity at the Woodland Park Zoo to a sanctuary. Every day, I am thankful for the opportunities I have to help tribal communities and animals.”
Lawyers typically do the following:
- Advise and represent clients in courts, before government agencies, and in private legal matters
- Communicate with their clients and others
- Conduct research and analysis of legal problems
- Interpret laws, rulings, and regulations for individuals and businesses
- Present facts in writing and verbally to their clients or others and argue on their behalf
- Prepare and file legal documents, such as lawsuits, appeals, wills, contracts, and deeds
Law Schools with Animal Law Courses
Click here for a list of Animal Law Courses compiled by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Becoming a lawyer usually takes 7 years of full-time study after high school—4 years of undergraduate study, followed by 3 years of law school. Most states and jurisdictions require lawyers to complete a juris doctor (J.D.) degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).*
*Information from Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Lawyers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm (visited October 28, 2014).
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