July 01, 2024

Announcing the Thomas Bloom Raskin Animal Protection Scholarship

Inspired by the compassion of animal advocate Tommy Raskin, an anonymous donor creates an Animal Law LLM scholarship to share his legacy.

When a Lewis & Clark employee recently retired after a long and enriching career, she knew she wanted to give back to the Lewis & Clark community because “it was always good to me.” She’s been a long time supporter of the Animal Law Program and is passionate about advancing legal protections for the more than 90 billion farmed animals suffering in overcrowded and intensive farming operations annually around the world. The power of one person to make a difference is exemplified by what she did next.

She reached out to the Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) at Lewis & Clark Law School to see how she could make the greatest impact for animal protection with a $50,000 gift. The answer from CALS was easy: create a scholarship to help us educate and train more animal lawyers who are empowered to create a better future for animals by changing the laws that fail to adequately protect them. The donor not only embraced the idea, but she also thoughtfully curated the impact of her gift. Her dream was to name the scholarship in honor of Thomas Bloom Raskin, a devoted animal rights advocate who inspired the donor and countless others both within and beyond the animal protection movement.

The son of Congressman Jamie Raskin and Law Professor Sarah Bloom Raskin, Tommy was a second-year JD student at Harvard Law School, a passionate animal rights activist, and a summer associate at Mercy for Animals when, following a long battle with depression, he took his own life in 2020. Turning their tragedy into an opportunity to share Tommy’s legacy, his parents wrote a beautiful and heart-wrenching public tribute to their son.

The Raskin family spoke of Tommy’s skill as an aspiring lawyer (he had a “dazzling radiant mind” and was a “prolific and exquisitely gifted writer”) and of his determined but soft-hearted approach as a passionate vegan to raising awareness regarding the impacts of our dietary choices on our fellow beings (he “recruited gently and lovingly — but supremely effectively — dozens and dozens of people, including his parents, to the practice of not eating animals, and it will be hard to find anyone his age who has turned more carnivores into vegans than him.”). Tommy’s devotion to animal protection animated his decisions in life, and extended to his parting message, which called us to “Please look after each other, the animals, and the global poor for me. All my love, Tommy.” The Raskin family has graciously and enthusiastically endorsed this new scholarship and we hope its creation helps Tommy’s “radiant light” shine even brighter.

We are honored to announce the newly created Thomas Bloom Raskin Scholarship for Animal Protection. The Scholarship will provide a one-time $10,000 award to an outstanding incoming Animal Law LLM student at Lewis & Clark Law School who demonstrates both academic excellence and commitment to animal law, with priority given to applicants who are passionate about farmed animal protection. Started in 2012, the Animal Law LLM program (offered in-person and online) has educated and trained lawyers from around the world (28 countries and growing) who wish to specialize in animal law. Our Animal Law LLM alumni are working everyday across the globe to improve the lives of animals by challenging the law to better protect them.

The initial $50,000 in funding will be used to fund five scholarships over five years. It is the donor’s hope that with additional funding from other donors, the Scholarship may be extended beyond five years or expanded to include a greater award on an annual basis. Those wishing to contribute to the Thomas Bloom Raskin Animal Protection Scholarship Fund can contact Pamela Byce, Assistant Dean and Executive Director of CALS, at pamelabyce@lclark.edu.

The first scholarship will be awarded to an applicant who will start in our online Animal Law LLM program in Spring 2025 (applications due by October 7, 2024), or in-person Fall 2025 (applications due by February 1, 2025). To apply for the scholarship, interested prospective students must complete all materials for application to our Animal Law LLM Program. In their personal statement as part of the application process, they should indicate that they are applying for the Tommy Raskin Animal Protection Scholarship and share their history and commitment to animal protection. Priority will be given to applicants who, like Tommy, are passionate about farmed animal protection.

The Center for Animal Law Studies and Lewis & Clark Law School extends our heartfelt thanks and admiration to the donor who has made this scholarship possible. To the Raskin Family, we are grateful for your endorsement of the scholarship and for sharing Tommy’s compassion and commitment to help the most vulnerable among us through the beautiful tribute that inspired this gift and scholarship in his honor. Tommy’s passion for animal rights has been an inspiration to so many, and we are honored to be stewards of this remarkable gift for Tommy’s legacy.

 

The Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) at Lewis & Clark Law School represents the epicenter of animal law education worldwide. Founded in 2008, CALS has advanced numerous firsts in the field. Today, it is home to: the world’s first animal law program; the first legal journal dedicated exclusively to animal law (the Animal Law Review), the first animal law student organization (the Lewis & Clark Animal Legal Defense Fund), the world’s longest-running animal law conference (now in its 32nd year), and the world’s first Dean of Animal Law.

A trailblazer, CALS offers a robust curriculum with more than 25 distinct animal law course offerings, as well as numerous animal law degree offerings, including: the Certificate in Animal Law for JD students; the Animal Law LLM (offered in-person and online); the Animal Law MSL for non-lawyers (offered in-person and online); and a newly launched Animal Law SJD (offered in-person only). Through leadership and innovation, CALS has extended the reach of animal law while advancing animal protection internationally with alumni from over 28 countries.

CALS is a self-funded center within Lewis & Clark Law School operating under the Lewis & Clark College 501(c)(3) tax exemption, and is able to provide these educational opportunities through donations and grants.