Careers in Animal Law
Read about opportunities to apply what you have learnt about animal law in the workplace. Explore opportunities for careers in private practice, working for an NGO, or in academia.
Working for animals! Career opportunities…
which can make use of your legal skills for the benefit of animals.
About legal practice and animal law
If you feel strongly about the treatment of animals in our society, then a career in animal welfare law can be extremely rewarding. There are many lawyers who use their legal skills to help animals, although there is a relatively small number who are able to dedicate their career exclusively to animal welfare. This is in part because there are few opportunities to specialise, but also because animal welfare spans many different areas of law from trade, licensing, tort, crime, and administrative law. Whilst there are lawyers who specialise in animal (welfare) law, traditionally their practices focus on areas such as public and regulatory law, dog law and campaign-related law. There are also lawyers who use their legal skills to work in animal advocacy groups or government departments and many more volunteer with groups such as A-LAW.
How can you specialise in animal law?
In our experience, very few lawyers specialise in animal law. In part, this reflects the fact that animal law refers collectively to the body of laws that engage animal interests and can span a number of legal disciplines, such as tort (veterinary negligence claims), crime (prosecution of animal cruelty offences). dog law (contractual disputes and criminal liability around dogs), housing law (no pet covenants), licensing and trade law (animal establishment licensing, puppy trade), public Law (judicial review challenges to decisions of public authorities concerning animals) and environmental law (conservation and habitat protection). It is often the case therefore that the animal related areas of practice form only part of a much broader practice, with the possible exception of dog law and criminal prosecution where a greater degree of specialisation is seen.
Academic careers in animal law
Think about an academic career, which can give you the opportunity to research and teach animal law. As with legal practice, there are very few opportunities to teach animal law exclusively, and generally it forms part of a broader teaching practice within a Law School. Criminology also offers some interesting opportunities to carry out research into animal related crime, such as wildlife trafficking and puppy farming. There are currently only a small number of universities across the UK offering animal law modules and we would like to see this change. Take a look at our Where to Study page to find out which universities offer courses.
Campaign & Policy Roles
There are some law graduates and lawyers who choose to use their legal backgrounds to work in the fields of policy or campaigns, advocating and lobbying for law reform and other change to improve the protection of animals. This can be very rewarding work, although such posts are highly competitive. Another route can be to work for a Government Agency, such as DEFRA or another public body, including Local Authorities, with animal welfare roles.
Our top tips
If Animal Law is included as a module on your undergraduate course this would be a good option and may place you at an advantage when seeking employment in this field. If you are interested in working for an animal charity, enquire about opportunities for voluntary work or a secondment.
Where possible attend meetings, lectures, seminars and other networking opportunities where you can meet lawyers already practising in this field. Become a member of our Student Group or Young Animal Lawyers Network and get involved with our work.
Think creatively. A career in law enforcement (such as with the Wildlife Division of the police force or as an RSPCA inspector) or campaigning may be just as rewarding and enable you to put skills gained during your law degree to real practical effect.
Careers events! The A-LAW Team…
often hosts events related to careers. Enjoy past recordings and find out more below.
Animal Advocacy: A Lifetime of Experience by David Thomas
David Thomas discusses his career as a solicitor, which includes launching Advocates for Animals, the UK’s first legal practice focusing exclusively on animal law. This lecture was given to our Animal Law, Ethics and Policy Conference 2019.
Animal Law Careers: Academic Pathways
We welcomed guest speakers Iyan offor (Lecturer in Law at Birmingham City University), Dr Debbie Rook (Principal lecturer in law at Northumbria University) Dr Angus Nurse (Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Nottingham Trent University) and Professor Johanna Gibson (Queen Mary’s University, London) to discuss academic careers in animal law, including criminology.
During this panel discussion hosted by the Young Animal Lawyers Network you will learn about their journeys into animal academia, in which direction they see this subject moving in the future and any challenges they have faced along the way. We will also be seeking advice and recommendations for those starting out on their journey and you will have the opportunity to ask questions during the session.
Career Pathways Towards Legal Advocacy for Animals
The UK Centre for Animal Law hosted a careers webinar in November 2020 on animal law career pathways. Speakers included: Sonul Badiani-Hamment – UK External Affairs Adviser, World Animal Protection Iain O’Donnell – Barrister, 1 Crown Office Row chambers Frances Allen – Barrister and founder of A-LAW and the Goldsmith Animal Rights Team, Goldsmith chambers Three lawyers who have chosen different pathways to advocate for animals are brought together to share their experiences and perspectives for the next generation of lawyers, legal academics and legal activists.
Animal Law Careers Q&A Panel hosted by Beyond Human Rights
Explore More! Additional resources…
to help you identify opportunities to use your career to help animals.