One immediate goal of the Animal Law & Policy Program is to provide Harvard students with the opportunity to take multiple Animal Law-related courses during their three years at the law school.

Animal Law

Each spring, Prof. Kristen Stilt teaches the primary Animal Law course, which includes attention to comparative and international law as well as religious and cultural issues. The course introduces students to the broad range of laws that affect non-human animals (“animals”), including companion animals, farm animals (with a particular focus on factory farms), animals used in the context of entertainment (such as zoos and aquaria), animals used in scientific experimentation, and wild animals. The course focuses mainly on the U.S. but will also include significant attention to the laws of other countries and to international law.

The course also engages with fundamental questions about animals and the law, such as: Are some animals more deserving of protection than others, and if so, on what basis? What role does culture and belief play in animal law—why are dogs considered pets in the U.S. and food in some parts of the world, for example? Does the status of animals as property pose an insurmountable barrier to increasing protections for animals? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the concepts of “animal rights” and “animal welfare”?

In the spring of 2017 the Animal Law course will expand to 3 credits.

Animal Law – HLS Course Catalog

Wildlife Law

In the fall of 2015, we offered HLS’s first seminar in Wildlife Law, taught by Jonathan Lovvorn, Senior Vice President & Chief Counsel for Animal Protection Litigation at The Humane Society of the United States. Mr. Lovvorn has litigated extensively on behalf of animals and the environment, winning dozens of cases under the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws. The Wildlife Law seminar explores wildlife law and policy, with a focus on high-profile wildlife conservation disputes, including current controversies surrounding international whaling, captive marine mammals, endangered wolves, and dwindling polar bear populations. The seminar also examines the history and evolution of wildlife conservation law, and highlights the major constitutional, ecological, political, and economic issues that shape wildlife resource protection in the 21st century. For the final meeting of the Wildlife Law class in December, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Director, Dan Ashe, addressed the seminar students and answered their questions on issues they had studied during the course. Mr. Lovvorn will be teaching the Wildlife Law Seminar again in the fall of 2016.

Wildlife Law Seminar – HLS Course Catalog

Farmed Animal Law & Policy

In the fall of 2017 Harvard Law School will be offering a course on Farmed Animal Law & Policy taught by David Wolfson. Mr. Wolfson taught Animal Law at Harvard in 2003 and has published extensively on the subject––most notably writing Beyond the Law: Agribusiness and the Systemic Abuse of Animals, published in the Animal Law Review, and co-authoring the chapter Foxes In The Hen House; Animals, Agribusiness and the Law: A Modern American Fable (with Mariann Sullivan) for the book Animal Rights: Current Debates And New Directions, edited by Cass Sunstein and Martha Nussbaum. Mr. Wolfson is the Executive Director of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, and has taught Animal Law at Columbia, & NYU law schools.

Course Description: 

As the future of food takes a front row seat in public and economic policy discussions, this course will set out to deconstruct the legal framework underlying the use of animals for food. The course will familiarize students with the conditions in which animals are raised, transported and slaughtered, as well as address federal and state laws that currently affect matters such as animal welfare, environmental (including climate change) impacts, global food sustainability, cultural and religious values, issues of personhood and property, free speech issues, health concerns, international trade issues and economic considerations in food pricing. The course also will discuss the pros and cons of current legal, political and other efforts to revamp the current system of production, distribution and consumption of animal-derived foods, including legislation, litigation, regulation, ballot initiatives and consumer campaigns. Reference will be made to approaches taken to these issues in other countries.