Volunteering for the WSPA by Eirian Whitehead

“I have always loved animals and as an LPC student I have been able to progress from my dreams of becoming the next Joy Adamson.”
Eirian Whitehead on volunteering for the WSPA

Eirian studied a history degree at King’s College London and completed her GDL at the University of Law. She is currently studying her LPC whilst acting as a voluntary legal assistant for Cats Protection.

I have always loved animals and as an LPC student I have been able to progress from my dreams of becoming the next Joy Adamson. My views on animal welfare remain unaltered, rather, the prospect of using my legal knowledge to actually further the progress of animal welfare is something I find particularly exciting.

Following the advice of experts highlighted on the ALAW website, I have been broadening my experience of animal welfare organisations by volunteering with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) during the summer. Although this charity does not have a legal department, as an international organisation the charity still encounters many legal issues. In particular, it’s stance on improving animal welfare worldwide has resulted in projects with both the Metropolitan Police Wildlife Crime Unit and the United Nations.

It is often a worry that as a volunteer, you will only be able to carry out more general administrative tasks, and although I did my fair share of mail merging I also found opportunities to widen my experience. For example, showing an interest in the charity’s international work led to me attending a meeting with representatives from WSPA Brazil, to hear about their progress concerning the welfare of farm animals; simply speaking to staff members was also fantastic in terms of gaining knowledge, one of whom had even written a book on animal welfare law.

The moment which stands out as the highlight of my experience was being present as two bears, named Gheorghe and Doru, were rescued by WSPA from truly inhumane conditions. Although we were halfway across the world, there was a great atmosphere in the office as never before seen pictures of the rescue emerged. Seeing the tangible results of WSPA’s work was a great feeling and I was really proud to be a part of it.

My time with WSPA was a fantastic experience and I cannot recommend volunteering enough for any law students, or even qualified lawyers. Volunteering gave me a great taste of working for a charitable organisation, but also, and perhaps more importantly, it was an extremely rewarding venture.

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