Third Annual Student Animal Law Trip to Washington D.C.

students with elephant at the PETA Foundation

Credit: Chris Green At the PETA Foundation. L-R: Danielle Duffield LL.M. ’18 (from left), Amy Chyao ’19, Kate Barnekow ’19, Gabriel Wildgen ‘20, and Kelley McGill ‘20

Last week, the Animal Law & Policy Program (ALPP) at Harvard Law School partnered with the HLS Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) to organize the third annual “Student Animal Law Trip to Washington D.C.”

This year, five HLS students visited eight different animal law practice settings in the nation’s capital–including two government agencies, a U.S. Senate office, and several public interest organizations. Over the course of the two days, the students directly interacted with over 40 practicing attorneys and policy staff whose work focuses on animal protection.

The offices visited this year included:

The students also met with the Executive Directors of the Good Food Institute and the White Coat Waste Project.

“The annual D.C. trip is an invaluable way for our students to learn about the many career options available to them while also acquiring a true feel for the work environments at most of the top organizations doing substantive legal work in the field,” said Animal Law & Policy Program Executive Director Chris Green, who accompanied the students on the trip.

Following are the students’ own comments about the experience, along with photos of the trip.

Animal Welfare Institute meeting

Credit: Chris Green The students visited with representatives from the Animal Welfare Institute, an organization founded in 1951 that seeks to alleviate the suffering inflicted on animals by people.

“The HLS ALPP trip to D.C. was an immensely enriching 48 hours, packed with opportunities to connect with and learn from top lawyers and other professionals dedicated to helping animals. I was inspired to hear such diverse first-hand perspectives on how a legal education can prepare you for a vast range of impactful animal protection careers.”

Gabriel Wildgen ‘20

Department of Justice Great Hall

Credit: Varu Chilakamarri Visiting the U.S. Department of Justice Great Hall. Front Row, from left: Danielle Duffield LL.M. ’18, Kelley McGill ’20, Gabriel Wildgen ‘20
Back Row: Amy Chyao ’19, Chris Green ’04, executive director of the HLS Animal Law & Policy Program, and Kate Barnekow ’19

“I was surprised by how much valuable insight we gained about the dynamics of each office. Through our visits, I was able to get a great sense of my potential compatibility with the organizations’ missions and cultures. It was amazing to see how differently the organizations approach the task of protecting animals through the legal system!

For me, the highlight of the trip was our visit to the Department of Justice’s headquarters. There we met with several lawyers there from the Animal Welfare Enforcement initiative, housed within DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. We learned about procedural limitations on the government’s ability to enforce key animal welfare statutes, but we were encouraged to hear about the many animal welfare prosecution successes the initiative already has accomplished.”

Kelley McGill ‘20

Third Annual Student Animal Law Trip to Washington D.C. 2

Outside the headquarters of Defenders of Wildlife. From left: Bob Dreher, Jenny Keatinge, Chris Green ’04, Kelley McGill ’20, Kate Barnekow ’19, Amy Chyao ’19, Steven Goldstein, Gabriel Wildgen ’20, Danielle Duffield LL.M. ’18, and Sandra Purohit

“This has been a wonderful opportunity for me to learn more about the breadth of opportunities in Animal Law even beyond what we’ve been learning in the classroom this semester. I came into law school with a particular interest in wildlife, so it was exciting to chat with several wildlife lawyers doing meaningful work at a diverse group of organizations, including Defenders of Wildlife, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Animal Welfare Institute. This unique opportunity organized by ALPP and SALDF really speaks to the connectedness of both organizations to animal law in the real world of legal practice, and I’m very grateful I had the chance to join a great group of my peers on the trip.”

Amy Chyao ’19, ELS Board Member

Third Annual Student Animal Law Trip to Washington D.C.

Credit: Chris GreenOffice of Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) L-R: Kelley McGill ’20 (from left), Kate Barnekow ’19, Gabriel Wildgen ‘20, Danielle Duffield LL.M. ’18, and Amy Chyao ’19

“The D.C. Animal Law trip provided me an invaluable opportunity to learn more about the different organizations and individuals working on animal welfare issues on Capitol Hill. We learned about the challenges and opportunities for animal welfare work in the current political climate, the different career paths available to help animals, and the varying strategic approaches to animal advocacy. One major highlight was meeting with staff at Senator Cory Booker’s office, who spoke about their efforts to generate political discourse, and to promote law reform, to advance the interests of animals.”

Danielle Duffield LL.M. ‘18

ASPCA meeting

Credit: Chris GreenStudents hear from Nancy Perry, Richard Patch, Kathryn Kopanke, Katie Kraska and others over lunch at the ASPCA’s Government Relations department.

“I think the opportunity to meet and discuss actual cases and strategy with practicing attorneys in the field is tremendously valuable. It’s also great to get different perspectives on potential career paths and legal approaches to addressing the treatment of nonhuman animals in our society. I particularly enjoyed meeting with Anthony Bellotti of the White Coat Waste Project and hearing about the path to their recent success de-funding VA tests on dogs.”

Kate Barnekow ’19, SALDF Co-President, and ELS Board Member