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Animals and the Law

September 30, 2009
animals_COVER small.jpgAlthough animal law is often spoken of humorously, more and more folks are talking about this area of law. Penn Law offers an upper level seminar on Animal Law, and Penn Law students publish the Journal of Animal Law and Ethics.  Penn Law also has an Animal Law Project.  Many political philosophers like Peter Singer from Princeton University and Martha Nussbaum from the University of Chicago Law School have written extensively on Animal Rights, an important area of investigation for those interested in animals and the law.  So if you are looking for a thought-provoking topic for a comment or seminar paper, or wish to explore the new practice of animal law, there is a wealth of resources available to you.
Animal law is a new and growing practice area. The American Bar Association sponsors an Animal Law Committee.  On the committee’s webpage you can find some provocative podcasts on topics like “CSI: Testing Animal DNA for Toxic Exposure” and “Estate Planning for Pets.” Many state and local bar associations have animal law practice sections. The New York State Bar Association offers a “Committee on Animals and the Law.”  The committee’s webpage offers a number of useful animal law links.  These include law courses, legislative reports, animal law articles, and an animal law student writing competition.
For students researching journal comments or seminar papers, there are a number of resources available. Georgetown Law Library offers a comprehensive Animal Law Research Guide.  In doing your research, pay special attending to the six law journals that focus on animal law: Animal Law, Journal for Critical Animal Studies, Journal of Animal Law, Journal of Animal Law and Ethics, Journal of Animal Law and Policy, and the Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy.  A search of the Index of Legal Periodicals on Westlaw returned nearly 150 articles on animal law. SSRN hosts over 25 recent papers on animal law topics. And Biddle’s online catalog, Lola, lists 40 books on the topic published in the past 5 years. Some examples include Gary Francione’s 2008 monograph “Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation” and
Why Animals Matter: the Case for Animal Protection” by Erin Williams and Margo DeMello.

There are also a number of blogs on animal law.  The ABA hosts one.  There is an interesting animal law blog focusing on Pennsylvania law.   A favorite of mine is the Pet Trust Law Blog. All of these resources can give you inspiration for unique research topics, as well as suggest new areas of legal practice for you to explore.