Animal Rights are Focus of Legal Clerkship

Posted June 02, 2021, 4:19PM
Halie Coates' love of animals led the third-year law student to learn more about the laws protecting them.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is creating a paid clerkship for a North Carolina Central University student to work for the agency and learn more about the field of animal law.

The clerkship will be awarded to a second-year student at the NCCU School of Law, said NCCU Law School Dean Browne Lewis.

“This scholarship provides students at NCCU School of Law with the opportunity to gain exposure to the growing area of animal law,” Lewis said. “We look forward to fostering a long-term partnership with the Animal Legal Defense Fund.”

The Fund, headquartered in Cotati, California, was founded to “protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system,” according to its website.

Animal law and policy address not only the welfare of animals in the food chain, but also those maintained for scientific research, commercial breeding programs such as puppy mills, zoos and aquariums, and in many other settings.

“It’s a developing area of law; something that isn’t talked a lot about,” said Halie Coates, a third-year law student who serves as president of the NCCU campus chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “I wanted to join an organization to build my resume. I love animals, so I thought I’d check it out. That’s how I got into it.”

Coates is one of many learning about animal law through affiliation with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which offers clerkships and scholarships. Sometimes that involves working on high-impact legal cases to improve animal conditions and raise awareness of the laws.

“It’s essential that students with diverse backgrounds and experiences are able to gain exposure to the emerging field of animal law,” said Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund executive director, regarding the agency’s partnership with NCCU.

“The scholarships and clerkship are designed to not only offer the opportunity to advocate for animals through the legal system, but to highlight its intersectionality with other forms of law.”

School of Law faculty will also work with the non-profit to offer an animal law class as part of the regular curriculum.

As part of the club's activities, members of the student affiliate at NCCU watched a video presentation and engaged in an online meeting with Animal Legal Defense Fund attorneys on laws regulating stockyard animals.

“We learned about slaughterhouses, and the rights of the animals that are in those kinds of situations,” Coates said. “That was eye opening.”



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