Animal Law

What is an “Animal Law” lawyer?

Becoming a lawyer is a path that not many pre-veterinary students may have considered. To fully combine an interest in law and working with animals, individuals often pursue a career in animal law. This career path is a field that covers a variety of different types of law cases, including but not limited to: animal custody dispute, animal abuse or neglect, and veterinary malpractice. Many of the skills that are important to develop for the veterinary career also translate into the legal field. This includes the ability to communicate effectively, to work with a variety of individuals, and to maintain a professional – but still properly empathetic – demeanor.

What type of education is required?

There are no prerequisite courses for most law schools, therefore an individual who has majored in to the Biological or Animal Sciences is at no academic disadvantage in comparison to Political Science or other common pre-law majors. However, while pre-veterinary students must take the GRE, students applying to law school take the rigorous LSAT (Law School Admissions Test). This test is only offered four times a year and is a very significant consideration in many schools’ admissions, so must be properly and thoroughly prepared for. After being admitted to law school, an individual who hopes to work on animal related cases will often pursue legal education to further inform them about the field. Of the 199 ABA-accredited schools in the United States, there are around 120 law schools that offer at least one course specifically on animal law, in addition to 133 schools having SADLF (Student Animal Legal Defense Fund) chapter clubs. After law school, students must pass the strenuous bar exam to be able to practice law. Many individuals with an interest in animal law will not hold a full time position in the field, but instead work in other law specialties and take on animal cases when they occur. Occasionally, individuals manage to find a position working for animal rights or welfare advocacy groups. Although these positions are few and far between at the moment, the field of animal law has been growing as the importance and moral considerations for animals continue to become a more common issue in America.

What is the expected salary?

Economically, the median salaries of lawyers vary tremendously dependent upon the job they take on, and there are no statistics for individuals focused specifically in animal law. However, the median salary for all practices of lawyers is $126,930, although individuals attempting to gain a position as a primarily animal law practitioner should know that these positions are rare, highly competitive, and often poorly compensated in comparison to a more typical lawyer.

How can I prepare myself for a job as an “Animal Law” lawyer while at NC State?

Students can utilize pre-law services at NC State through the career development center, join the Pre-Law Student Student’s Association Club, and more. More information can be found at Students should take the prerequisites for law school and could consider taking a journalism or public relations course.

What kind of experience is required?

Some agencies may require the completion of animal law enforcement training through an academy. Experience with conducting legal research, negotiations, and in analytical writing can prove useful in becoming an animal lawyer. Certain schools even offer workshops in animal law.

Where can I find more information?

Career Opportunities

Additional Career opportunities include working for animal welfare nonprofits-