February 16, 2023

Student Leaders Look Toward the Future of Animal Law

With support from CALS, leaders of the Lewis & Clark Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapter and the Animal Law Review recently traveled to the Big Apple for a weekend devoted to animal law.

JD Candidates Lydia Dexter (Editor-in-Chief of the Animal Law Review, pictured far right), with Melissa Holme and Karli Uwaine (Co-Directors of the Lewis & Clark Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, pictured left and middle) recently traveled to New York City with Professors Pamela Frasch and Rajesh Reddy for a weekend of animal law events hosted by New York University. The trip was supported via a grant from the Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS). The event brought together professors and students from other law schools, including Harvard, Yale, Vermont, NYU, and Wesleyan, in addition to Lewis & Clark, to discuss animal law program and advocacy developments, as well as the future of animal law.

Dr. Reddy presented on a panel and shared some exciting updates about the work being done at CALS, including the robust course offerings, the addition of the Master of Studies in Animal Law degree this past fall, and the launch of the online advanced degree program in the fall of 2021. “It was really enlightening to hear about how other schools navigate animal law, and I am so grateful that Lewis & Clark has such a robust animal law program, offering a course on just about every topic related to animal law,” said Melissa.

The discussions related to the future of animal law highlighted the wonderful work that has been done thus far, but it also shed light on work that still needs to be done. It provided for the opportunity to reflect and consider challenging yet pivotal questions about the improvements that need to be made and how professionals in the field plan on making strides to mend some of these shortcomings. Lydia expressed the value of engaging in these difficult conversations: “I am so appreciative to CALS for giving myself, Karli, and Melissa this opportunity. As a K-JD student, this event was eye-opening, allowing me to hear from professionals and academics in the field of animal law. I left aware of all the work that still needs to be done, and the intersectionality that needs to be achieved. But I now know how I fit in this world: as a bridge between tribal law and animal law.” Karli shared similar thoughts, adding, “I value the moments where we, as students, can be critical (with an open-mind and kind heart) of the space that we are in, especially when it relates to conversations around diversity and inclusion. It gave me a sense of hope knowing that the field of animal law embraces notions of growth and humility.”

In addition to participating in these thoughtful discussions, Melissa, Lydia, and Karli were able to network with other students and professionals in the field. “I was able to meet a few students that I have been in touch with via email through my role as Co-Director for L&C ALDF. It was great to be able to chat with them and discuss potential opportunities for collaboration in the future,” said Melissa. Karli was also able to meet up for coffee with a few New York-based attorneys that she has had the pleasure of working with this year through the Convention on Animal Protection (CAP) Working Group. As a Clerk at the Center for Animal Law Studies, Karli joined the Working Group of international attorneys and animal law professors to develop the second draft of the CAP. She adds, “I feel so grateful that I was able to meet the people that I have learned so much from and look up to as my inspiration. I wouldn’t have had this opportunity if it weren’t for CALS!”


The Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) was founded in 2008 with a mission to educate the next generation of animal law advocates and advance animal protection through the law. With vision and bold risk-taking, CALS has since developed into a world-renowned animal law epicenter. CALS’ Alumni-in-Action from over 20 countries are making a difference for animals around the world. CALS is a nonprofit organization funded through donations and grants.