Animal Law Overview

“Animal law is, in its simplest (and broadest) sense, a combination of statutory and decisional law in which the legal, social, or biological nature of non-human animals is an important factor.”

The subject known as Animal Law is not a distinct legal doctrine per se, but rather a subject-specific lens through which one can focus the traditional substantive areas of legal theory and practice, such as: criminal law, property law, administrative law, constitutional law, torts, contracts, as well as comparative law, family law, and wills & estates.

The field of Animal Law has experienced near exponential growth over the past decade and a half. In the Spring of 2000 Harvard Law School became the ninth law school to teach a course in Animal Law. Today, just 16 years later, over 150 U.S. law schools have offered an Animal Law-related course, as have over a dozen in Canada, Australia & New Zealand. Similarly, over 200 Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapters have now been formed at law schools worldwide.