Animal Law

A goal of the Animal Law & Policy Program is to provide students with the opportunity to take multiple Animal Law-related courses and reading group’s during their three years at the Harvard Law School or other schools.

Each spring, Professor 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 was taught by Visiting Professor Justin Marceau in the Spring of 2019 while Professor Stilt was serving as Deputy Dean of Harvard Law School.

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 expanded to 3 credits.

Animal Law – HLS Course Catalog

Wildlife Law

The Wildlife Law Seminar will be taught by Eric Glitzenstein in 2021. Mr. Glitzenstein is presently the Director of Litigation at the Center for Biological Diversity, a national conservation organization dedicated to preventing human-caused extinctions and protecting life on Earth. Prior to working with the Center, Mr. Glitzenstein was the co-founder (with Professor Katherine Meyer) and Managing Partner of the D.C. based firm Meyer & Glitzenstein, one of the nation’s leading public-interest law firms.

The course was previously taught by Jonathan Lovvorn. Mr. Lovvorn taught Wildlife Law at HLS in 2015, 2016 and 2018, and also taught a new Farmed Animal Law & Policy course in 2017. He also teaches Animal Law at Yale, NYU and Georgetown Law Schools.

Course Description:

This seminar will explore 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 will examine the history and evolution of wildlife conservation law, and highlight the major constitutional, ecological, political, and economic issues that shape wildlife resource protection in the 21st century. The seminar will include an overview of key domestic and international laws protecting wildlife, including the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling. The seminar will also touch on the World Trade Organization and the role of international free trade agreements in both fostering and inhibiting global wildlife conservation.

Wildlife Law – HLS Course Catalog

Farmed Animal Law & Policy

In the fall of 2017 Harvard Law School offered a course on Farmed Animal Law & Policy taught by Jonathan Lovvorn who was then Senior Vice President & Chief Counsel for Animal Protection Litigation at The Humane Society of the United States. Mr. Lovvorn has taught Harvard Law School’s Wildlife Law course, and also teaches Animal Law at Yale, NYU and Georgetown Law School. He is currently Clinical Lecturer in Law, Senior Research Scholar in Law, and Faculty Co-Director of the Law, Ethics, & Animals Program at Yale Law School.

Course Description:

This seminar will explore farmed animal law and policy, with a focus on high-profile issues concerning the use of animals for food, including current controversies over animal welfare, environmental degradation, public health, consumer protection, worker safety, and climate change. The seminar will examine the history and evolution of animal agriculture from early agrarian domestication to modern industrial farming, and highlight the major ethical, cultural, ecological, social and economic issues that shape farmed animal law and policy in the 21st century. The seminar will include an overview of key laws and regulations concerning farmed animals, as well as an exploration of current legislation, litigation, ballot initiatives and consumer-based campaigns to reform animal agriculture. The seminar will also compare farmed animal laws and regulations in different countries, and touch on the role of international trade agreements in both promoting and preventing legal protections for farmed animals.

Farmed Animal Law & Policy – HLS Course Catalog

Below you can read more about HLS’s recent Animal Law & Policy Reading and Writing Groups:

Reading and Writing Groups

Law and the Anthropocene

Upper-Level J.D. and LL.M. Writing Group, Fall and Spring 2022 Professor Kristen Stilt

Law and the Anthropocene: ways in which law is part of the problem or part of the solution in our planetary crisis; topics might focus on animal law; environmental law; human rights law (including migration due to climate change); food law; and any other related topic. For more information visit the main Harvard Law School website.

One Health: Animal Welfare, Human Health, and the Environment

1L Reading Group, Spring 2021 Professor Kristen Stilt

The concept of One Health means that the health and wellness of all living beings and things on this planet are interconnected.  Covid-19 has highlighted the urgency of a One Health approach and the tragic consequences of failing to recognize our deep interconnectedness and to adopt sound laws and policies accordingly.  This Reading Group will explore several topics at the intersection of animal welfare, human health, and the environment.  We will investigate the spread of zoonotic diseases (that is, diseases transmitted from animals to humans) such as the virus that causes Covid-19, the environmental impact of the factory farms that produce the animals who go into our food supply, the excessive use of antibiotics in animal agriculture, deforestation, climate change, and other related topics.

Animals and Covid-19

1L Reading Group, Fall 2020 Professor Kristen Stilt

Human encroachment on animal habitats, and human use of animals in general, has created the ideal conditions for the emergence of zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19.  The world focused on the live animal market in Wuhan, China as the suspected site of the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, but this is certainly not the only site of concern.  A strategy of prevention must take into consideration all human interactions with both wildlife and domesticated animals. This Reading Group explored the origins of major zoonotic diseases, with specific attention to COVID-19.  It also examined efforts by governments to regulate the human-animal interactions that are viewed as the most dangerous, including the trade in wildlife.  Can we prevent the next pandemic through a rethinking of our relationships to animals? This Reading Group aimed to answer this major question.