Animal Law

The University of Denver Animal Law Program is the only animal law program in the Rocky Mountain Region of the United States. In collaboration with similar programs across the country, as well as local and national attorneys, we seek to educate the next generation of animal law advocates, and in turn, for those advocates to protect the well-being of non-human animals in the United States and around the world. We provide educational and hands-on opportunities in a wide variety of animal law fields, engaging with the legal and moral issues surrounding the use of animals for food, entertainment, experimentation, and fashion.

Formally launched in 2021, the DU Animal Law Program is founded on a commitment to three ideals. First, we believe the law does not adequately protect the lives, interests, and needs of animals. Despite a growing body of work documenting the sentience, cognition, and autonomy of animals, non-humans are routinely killed or harmed unnecessarily. Second, we believe that attorneys and the law have an important role to play in protecting animals and facilitating a pro-animal social change agenda. Third, we believe academics and research should create space to challenge our assumptions about society and the law's intersection with animals. The creation and dissemination of quality research should catalyze changes in law and policy in the service of protecting animals.
 

The DU Sturm College of Law is listed as one of Kaplan's "Top 10 Law Schools for Animal Law."

View Rankings
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Animal Law Certificate

The goal of the Animal Law Certificate is to provide students with sufficient education and experience so they will 1) attain an in-depth understanding of the animal related legal fields, and 2) acquire the skills and knowledge that will prove valuable to employers hiring recent graduates. The Animal Law Certificate focuses on substantive coverage and experiential learning. At the same time, the Certificate recognizes that animal law spans many areas of legal study, and thus requires a broad, general legal education, which includes courses on civil rights. Accordingly, the credit expectations for specialized courses in animal law are correspondingly lower than might otherwise be expected. Students who complete the requirements for the program are entitled to a certificate in animal law. Please contact Program Manager Jess Beaulieu with any additional inquiries. 

View Certificate Requirements

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Courses

We are always pleased to meet with students interested in animal law careers to discuss schedules, assist with directed research projects, or advise about upcoming courses, externships, and other opportunities focused on animal law.

  • Live-Client and Simulation Course(s)
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    Environmental Law Clinic

    Students enrolled in the Environmental Law Clinic represent a range of clients from established conservation organizations to local community groups who seek to protect the environment, public health, and animals. Students gain practical legal skills in litigation, administrative law, advocacy, and client representation that will translate to any practice area. Students interested in animal law will have a range of client matters to choose from in the areas of animal agriculture, animal rights, endangered species protection, and public lands. Current and former clients of the clinic include the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of Animals, and WildEarth Guardians, among others.

    Learn More

  • Past Courses
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    Animal Law Survey (Fall 2022)

    This class is an introduction to the field of law referred to as "animal law." It is a survey course; we will study a range of legal topics that implicate the status and well-being of non-human animals. The course will not simply look casually or superficially at a spattering of areas where the law intersects with animals. Rather, the goal is to demonstrate that the field of animal law, like all great topics of legal study, is relevant to understanding general trends and overarching themes in U.S. law and policy. The course is a blend of theoretical and doctrinal materials, of historical reflections and future strategies. We will explore a variety of animal law topics and approaches for understanding "animal rights," but an overriding theme of the course is to understand whether and to what extent animal protection should be considered a civil rights movement. What is the role of activists versus lawyers? What is the role of criminal law in advancing the agenda of the movement? What is the role of constitutional law, and of science? And, do some species deserve more legal protections than others, and if so why?
     

    Animal Rights Jurisprudence in Practice (Fall 2021)

    There are several philosophies detailing the justification of and need for animal rights and how animal advocates can or should achieve civil rights for nonhuman animals in courts or through legal changes. This course discussed the sometimes-competing strategies and theories for achieving measurable civil rights for nonhuman animals; why civil rights for nonhuman animals are important; and how courts, governments, and cultures are responding to litigation and advocacy demanding civil rights for nonhuman animals.


    Animal Law Survey (Fall 2020)

    This course was an introduction to the field of law referred to as "animal law." It was a survey course, studying a range of legal topics that implicate the status and well-being of non-human animals. The course did not simply look casually or superficially at a spattering of areas where the law intersects with animals. Rather, the goal was to demonstrate that the field of animal law, like all great topics of legal study, is relevant to understanding general trends and overarching themes in U.S. law and policy. The course was a blend of theoretical and doctrinal materials, of historical reflections and future strategies. It explored a variety of animal law topics and approaches for understanding "animal rights," but an overriding theme of the course was to understand whether, and to what extent, animal protection should be considered a civil rights movement. What is the role of activists versus lawyers? What is the role of criminal law in advancing the agenda of the movement? What is the role of constitutional law, and of science? And do some species deserve more legal protections than others, and if so, why?


    Federal Wildlife Law (Spring 2020)

    This course covered federal wildlife law, beginning with the Constitutional underpinnings of federal wildlife law. It focused on the Endangered Species Act with some coverage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The course took new approaches to species and habitat preservation, paying particular attention to Colorado species.


    Animal Rights (Fall 2018)

    This course delved into the definition of the term "animal"; explored and studied the laws offering protection of animals, including state anti-cruelty laws and federal laws, such as the Animal Welfare Act and the Endangered Species Act; and considered arguments for and against granting animals legal rights.

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Student Opportunities

To further improve the lives of all nonhuman animals, the Animal Law Program collaborates with leading animal protection organizations. These relationships give our animal law students the opportunity to engage with groups beyond the classroom and to also assist them with research. If you are a student interested in learning more about the following organizations or in conducting legal research for them, please contact Animal Law Program Manager Jess Beaulieu at jessica.beaulieu@du.edu.

Expand the section below to learn how DU's Animal Law Program supports public interest student employment opportunities through its annual Summer Fellowship awards.

  • Animal Law Summer Fellowships

    The University of Denver Animal Law Program is committed to supporting summer public interest employment opportunities for students by providing guaranteed Summer Fellowship awards of $4,000 apiece to two animal law students who choose to work in a public interest law position during the summer.

    Students are eligible for this stipend during the summer after their first year, the summer after their second year, or both. However, priority will be given to first-year students as fewer paid internship opportunities exist for them. First-year students must work in eligible nonprofit positions for at least eight weeks of their first-year summer, and second-year students must work in eligible positions for ten weeks of their second-year summer.

    All aid, including scholarship, loan, and stipend funds, cannot exceed the annual cost of attendance. You may contact Roger Lane in the Office of Student Financial Management if you have any questions about the financial aid implications of the Animal Law Summer Fellowships or any other aid.

    To apply, please send a cover letter and CV to animallawprogram@law.du.edu by April 26, 2024.

University of Denver Student Animal Legal Defense Fund

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Since its founding in 1979, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has been fighting to protect the lives and well-being of animals via the legal system. Today, their groundbreaking efforts are supported by hundreds of dedicated attorneys and more than 100,000 members nationwide. DU boasts a robust Student Chapter of the ALDF, which works to educate the DU community about forms of institutionalized animal abuse, understand how the law can be used to combat animal cruelty, and support the greater Denver community in its efforts to improve animal welfare.

Animal Legal Defense Fund information table

Events

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August 1

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September 1

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Past Events

  • Fall 2021
    The Cutting Edge of Animal Activism

    On September 9, 2021, we hosted Wayne Hsiung, co-founder of Direct Action Everywhere (DxE). Wayne discussed both his work with DxE along with the civil liberties and political concerns that are intertwined with animal activism in the United States.

    Wayne Hsiung lecture
    Volunteering at Broken Shovels Farm Sanctuary

    On September 12, 2021, students joined the DU Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Animal Law Program to kick off National Farm Animals Awareness Week by helping Broken Shovels Farm Sanctuary paint resident goat barns before winter.

    volunteers feeding cows
    Lunchtime Animal Law Career Talk with Jay Tutchton

    On October 6, 2021, we hosted the first speaker of our Lunchtime Animal Law Career Talk series, Colorado Parks & Wildlife's Jay Tutchton. Jay discussed with students his work as the Preserve Manager for the Southern Plains Land Trust (SPLT). He manages SPLT’s reintroduced bison herd and works to improve its 32,000-acre network of protected lands for the benefit of all native wildlife species. Jay outlined his animal law path and offered advice for students pursuing a career in the public interest field.

    Watch Here

    Jay Tutchton lecture
    Lunchtime Animal Law Career Talk with Amy P. Wilson

    On October 14, 2021, we hosted the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)'s Amy P. Wilson for our Lunchtime Animal Law Career Talk series. Amy discussed with students her work as the Brooks Institute Animal Law and Policy Fellow at UCLA School of Law's Animal Law and Policy Program. Her research focuses on the intersection of the rights of animals, humans, and the environment in law and policy. Amy gave a thorough explanation of animal law, outlined the many animal law career possibilities, and offered advice for students.

    Watch Here

    Amy P. Wilson Zoom lecture
    Lunchtime Animal Law Career Talk with Alene Anello

    On October 25, 2021, we hosted Alene Anello for our Lunchtime Animal Law Career Talk series. Alene discussed her current work as the founder of Legal Impact for Chickens (LIC), a nonprofit aiming to make factory farm cruelty a liability. LIC intends to systematically develop, refine, and use doctrines that allow plaintiffs to sue in civil court for violation of a criminal law to fight factory farm cruelty, and it will bring strategic lawsuits for chickens and other farmed animals. Alene also described how her two beloved avian family members, Conrad and Zeke, inspired her career path and she offered students advice for pursuing a career in the animal law field.

    Watch Here

    Alene Anello lecture
    A Dog's World: Jessica Pierce and Marc Bekoff Event

    On October 27, 2021, we hosted Jessica Pierce and Marc Bekoff to discuss their recent publication, A Dog's World: Imagining the Lives of Dogs in a World without Humans. Drawing on biology, ecology, and the latest findings on the lives and behavior of dogs and their wild relatives, Jessica and Marc explained who dogs might become without direct human intervention into breeding, arranged playdates at the dog park, regular feedings, and veterinary care. They revealed how dogs are quick learners who are highly adaptable and opportunistic, and they offered compelling evidence that dogs already do survive on their own ― and could do so in a world without us.

    Watch Here

    Jessica Pierce and Marc Bekoff Zoom lecture
    Hog Haven Documentary Screening with Filmmaker and Director Q&A

    On November 4, 2021, the Animal Law Program and DU Animal Legal Defense Fund hosted the premiere screening of Hog Haven. Hog Haven is a documentary feature film about Erin, a Colorado woman who founded an animal sanctuary for pigs when her pet pig Pippy nursed her back to health after a car accident. We followed Erin and Hog Haven Farm's 120 resident rescue pigs through several seasons and learned more about the events that profoundly changed her life. We also had the pleasure of hosting a resident therapy pig named Katie for the evening!

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  • Spring 2022
    Lunchtime Animal Law Career Talk with Kristina Bergsten

    On February 8, 2022, we hosted Kristina Bergsten for our Lunchtime Animal Law Career Talk series. Kristina discussed her current work as owner and founder of The Animal Law Firm, a Denver-based firm that specializes in pet custody, dog bite defense, service animal representation, veterinary malpractice, and more. Kristina also described what inspired her animal law path and she offered students advice for pursuing a similar path.

    Kristina Bergsten lecture
    Animal Law and Environmental Law: Parallels and Synergies with Randall Abate

    On February 23, 2022, we hosted animal law scholar, Randall Abate for our Lunchtime Animal Law Career Talk series. Randall also gave an evening talk — "Animal Law and Environmental Law: Parallels and Synergies." Animal law stands to gain valuable insights from the environmental law movement. Drawing on lessons from history, politics, and law, Randall's book, What Can Animal Law Learn from Environmental Law (2d ed.), examines how environmental law's successes and shortcomings can inform animal law, and during his talk he explained how the two fields can work together to secure mutual gains in the future.

    Watch Here

    Randall Abate lecture
    Effective Humane Education Panel Discussion

    On March 3, 2022, we hosted leading experts for a discussion on how effective humane education means controversial reforms to our system, and how this is the best way to protect animals and ensure biodiversity and nonhuman autonomy.

    Watch Here (Access Passcode: evh^Y3A2)

    Effective Humane Education Panel Discussion
    Lunchtime Animal Law Career Talk with Mike Harris

    On March 7, 2022, we hosted Vermont Law School's Mike Harris for our Lunchtime Animal Law Career Talk series. Mike discussed his work as the prior Wildlife Law Program Director at Friends of Animals. He also gave a great explanation of what it means to advocate for animals and what students should consider if they plan to pursue a career in animal law.

    Watch Here

    Mike Harris lecture
    Nature Day at Cherry Creek State Park

    On April 2, 2022, we visited Cherry Creek State Park to hear from representatives of the Attorney General's office, the Department of Natural Resources, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife about their work and what opportunities exist for students interested in pursuing animal and environmental law. We also had the opportunity to participate in a cleanup of the park.

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  • Fall 2022
    Tiger King Discussion with Jessica Blome

    On September 9, 2022, we hosted Greenfire Law's Jessica Blome. In 2016, Jessica and her legal team won a precedent-setting victory establishing that Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act applies equally to privately possessed threatened and endangered wildlife. During her talk, she discussed how she established the applicability of Section 9 to captive species and what that precedent meant for the litigation against "The Tiger King” and his Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma.

    Watch Here

    Jessica Blome lecture
    The Wild Animal Sanctuary Visit

    On September 10, 2022, the Animal Law Program and Jessica Blome visited The Wild Animal Sanctuary. Currently, there are over 25,000 tigers, lions, wolves, bears and other large carnivores living outside of the United States zoo system. These animals can be found in people's apartments, basements, garages, backyards, roadside zoos, and other unnatural places. The Wild Animal Sanctuary specializes in rescuing and caring for these large predators. During our visit, students learned about the residents and the situations that brought them to the Sanctuary.

    Wild Animal Sanctuary
    Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary Visit

    Animal photojournalist and We Animals Media founder Jo-Anne McArthur visited the University of Denver as a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence September 24–30, 2022. She kicked off her visit on September 25 with a trip to Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary to take photographs and learn about its residents.

    Luvin Arms Animal Santuary
    Animals in the Anthropocene: A Journey with Jo-Anne McArthur into Animal Photojournalism

    On September 27, 2022, Jo-Anne McArthur took us on a journey through animal photojournalism. During her discussion, she covered the history of this field and described how she documents our complex relationship with animals around the globe. Her latest book, HIDDEN: Animals in the Anthropocene, was awarded "Photography Book of the Year" by Pictures of the Year International. She is also the founder of We Animals Media, the world's leading animal photojournalism agency whose mission is to document the stories of animals in the human environment and to connect those stories to the individuals and organizations who can amplify their reach.

    Watch Here

    Jo-Anne McArthur lecture
    Lunchtime Animal Law Career Talk with Alex Cerussi

    On October 26, 2022, we hosted Alex Cerussi for our Lunchtime Animal Law Career Talk series. Alex discussed her current work as a State Policy Manager for Mercy for Animals' Government Affairs and Public Policy team. She also described what inspired her animal law journey and offered students advice for pursuing a similar path.

    Watch Here

    Alex Cerussi lecture
    Racial Equity and Animal Law

    On November 2, 2022, Akisha Townsend Eaton discussed how racial, economic, and environmental justice are often viewed as tangential rather than an essential part of a sustainable animal advocacy movement. Her discussion provided a basic overview of how these issues are critically connected and interdependent. An emphasis was placed on the human and animal well-being movement as it applies to humans and companion animals. However, the themes covered could easily extend to many other areas of animal advocacy.

    Watch Here

    Racial Equity and Animal Law
    Colorado Wolf Reintroduction: Implementing Voters' Intent

    On November 9, 2022, Lindsay Larris, Wildlife Program Director for WildEarth Guardians, and Aubyn Royall, Colorado State Director for the Humane Society of the United States, discussed both the Colorado wolf reintroduction and a conservation-backed wolf restoration plan that restores a self-sustaining population of gray wolves to the state — a place where they have been functionally extinct for 76 years. Lindsay and Aubyn informed students about what they could do to ensure that decision-makers follow the will of the Colorado public in finalizing a wolf restoration plan.

    Colorado Wolf Restoration

     

  • Spring 2023
    Lunchtime Animal Law Career Talk with Lesley Tse

    On January 24, 2023, Lesley Tse, staff attorney with the Animal Defense Partnership, an organization that protects animals by providing free legal services to nonprofits that advocate for animals and plant-based diet change, described her work to students and what lead her to a career in the field of animal law.

    Watch Here

    Photo of Zoom session participants
    Animal Legislation Lunchtime Career Talk with the ASPCA

    On February 10, 2023, the ASPCA joined us for a lunchtime talk to discuss legislative advocacy opportunities. Students heard from Amie Farquhar and Ali Mickelson of the ASPCA about their work and how to get involved in animal legislation. They also heard from a couple Colorado lawmakers who virtually joined the discussion.

    Watch Here

    presenter speaking to students in law classroom
    Lobby Day at the Colorado State Capitol

    On February 16, 2023, we hosted a Lobby Day with the ASPCA at the Colorado State Capitol. Students toured the Capitol, attended the Colorado Legislative Animal Welfare (CLAW) caucus, during which Animal Law Program Manager Jess Beaulieu gave a presentation, and met up with legislators and Governor Polis to hear about their work.

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    Lunchtime Animal Law Career Talk with Jennifer Best

    On March 1, 2023, Jennifer Best, Wildlife Law Program Director for Friends of Animals, an international animal advocacy organization that advocates for the rights of nonhuman animals, joined us for a discussion about her work as an animal law attorney.

    Watch Here

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    Jo-Anne McArthur Art Exhibition & Evening Talk

    March 6–9, 2023, Jo-Anne McArthur visited the University of Denver and we, along with the Department of Art and Art History, co-hosted an exhibition of Jo-Anne’s photography and an evening talk she gave about animal photojournalism.

    side-by-side image of individuals speaking on stage and viewing a photo exhibition
    Humans & Other Animals: Where Did We Go Wrong? with Seb Alex

    On March 8, 2023, Seb Alex, head of Campaign Management and Lectures for the Middle East Vegan Society, an organization that focuses on reducing and eliminating the suffering of animals, as well as reducing our impact on the environment with our day-to-day choices, discussed how human rights and animal rights are related.

    Watch Here

    individual speaking at podium in law classroom
    The Smell of Money Film Screening

    On April 12, 2023, we were pleased to screen “The Smell of Money,” a documentary about corporate hog farms in North Carolina and the unjust impacts they have on local communities of color, the environment, and animals. The film was followed by a panel discussion featuring producer Jamie Berger, the Waterkeeper Alliance’s Larry Baldwin, and local environmental attorney, Manny Rutinel.

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  • Fall 2023
    Lunchtime Talk with Macarena Montes

    On September 13, Macarena Montes Franceschini, Harvard Law Visiting Fellow, described what inspired her animal law journey and offered students advice for pursuing a similar path.

    Animal Law Career Talk graphic
    Advancing Law for Animals with Vanessa Shakib

    On September 19, Vanessa Shakib discussed impact litigation and creative legal strategy for animals, and also the work her nonprofit law firm, Advancing Law for Animals, does for animals exploited in industrial agriculture and experimentation.

    Vanessa Shakib event photo
    Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary Volunteer Day

    On September 30, students joined the Animal Law Program to help clean the resident animals’ spaces and learn about their stories. Luvin Arms is a refuge for abused or neglected farmed animals, including cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens, horses, goats, donkeys, sheep, and ducks.

    Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary
    Lunchtime Talk with Manny Rutinel

    On October 4, Manny Rutinel, member of the Colorado House of Representatives for the 32nd district, discussed his work in the field of animal law and how as a legislator he plans to ensure his community has access to a quality education, affordable homes, and clean air, land, and water.

     
    Why Plant-Based Meat is the Future and How Data Science Helps

    On October 11, Dr. Karthik Sekar, Head of Data Science at Climax Foods, explained how in the long run, plant- and microbial-based food will be tastier, healthier, and more affordable than conventional animal-based products and simultaneously usher in significant benefits for humanity, animal kind, and planet Earth, and why data science and machine learning are necessary to accelerate our food transition.

    Dr. Karthik Sekar event photo
    Abduction @ DU

    On October 23–24, peta2 brought Abduction, a new cutting-edge virtual reality exhibit, to the University of Denver to bring attention to the plight of animals used in laboratories.

     
    Lunchtime Talk with Alene Anello

    On October 26, Alene Anello, founder of Legal Impact for Chickens (LIC), explained how LIC develops and refines creative methods to enforce existing cruelty laws in factory farms and to sue companies that break animal-welfare commitments.

     
    From Dominance to Justice, Equity, & Inclusion: Extending Human Rights Frameworks to Other Animals

    On November 6, Dr. Hope Ferdowsian, drawing on the themes in her book, Phoenix Zones: Where Strength Is Born and Resilience Lives, described the intricate connections between human, animal, and planetary rights, health, and wellbeing and how extending human rights frameworks to nonhuman animals can serve as the basis for solutions, recovery, and individual and societal resilience.

    Dr. Hope Ferdowsian event photo

     

  • Spring 2024
    Can We Hear You? Models for Listening in the Animal Kingdom and Scientific Communities

    On January 31, Katie Zacarian, CEO and co-founder of Earth Species Project (ESP), a nonprofit organization with the mission of decoding animal communication, discussed how ESP collaborates broadly across many scientific disciplines, bringing together AI researchers, biological scientists, ethicists, philosophers, conservationists, and more, and discussed the challenges and joys of listening deeply to the science and expertise outside of our own disciplines, and eventually, outside of our species.

    Katie Zacarian event photo
    Lunchtime Advocacy Talk with Nilang Gor

    On February 6, Nilang Gor, founder of Cultivate Empathy for All, an organization that supports advocacy focused on transitioning towards a sustainable food system by leveraging empathy rooted in systems thinking, discussed how we live in a highly interconnected ecosystem, in which our wellbeing is interdependent on fellow humans, nonhuman animals, and the environment.

    Nilang Gor event photo
    The Rights of Nature in Ecuador’s Constitution and Jurisprudence

    On February 13, the Animal Law Program, Environmental Law Program, and Center for Constitutional Rights & Remedies hosted a rights of nature discussion with Judge Karla Andrade Quevedo from the Constitutional Court of Ecuador. Judge Andrade Quevedo discussed nature’s rights in Ecuador’s constitution and then explained the evolution of the constitutional jurisprudence on nature’s rights. This included the topics of rivers, mangroves, forests, and animals, and she described all the developments that have been made on each of those topics.

    Rights of Nature in Ecuador's Constitution and Jurisprudence event photo
    2024 BASAN Animal Law Student Summit

    On February 17, Jess Beaulieu and Animal Law Program students attended the 2024 BASAN Animal Law Student Summit at NYU.  The Summit brought together several universities with animal law and animal studies programs to provide each other with updates, participate in group discussions, and engage in networking opportunities.

    BASAN Animal Law Student Summit group photo
    Confronting Pronatalism and Human Supremacy: The Key to Advancing Reproductive and Animal Rights

    On February 21, Nandita Bajaj, executive director of Population Balance, a U.S. nonprofit that offers education and solutions to address the impacts of human overpopulation and overconsumption from a humane education framework, exposed pronatalism and human supremacy as drivers of injustice and offered strategies for engaging in nuanced conversation and policy shifts.

    Confronting Pronatalism event photo
    Truth and Transparency Book Event

    On March 5, the Office of the Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship, Animal Law Program, and Center for Constitutional Rights & Remedies celebrated Alan Chen and Justin Marceau’s new book, Truth and Transparency: Undercover Investigations in the Twenty-First Century. The talk featured commentators Fred Freiberg of the Fair Housing Justice Center and Helen Norton of the University of Colorado School of Law.

    Truth and Transparency event group photo
    Justice for Animals: Practical Progress through Philosophical Theory

    On March 12, the University of Denver’s new Institute for Animal Sentience and Protection, which aims to expand the scientific understanding of the cognitive and emotional capabilities of nonhuman animals, and the Animal Law Program hosted noted philosopher, Dr. Martha Nussbaum. During this talk, Dr. Nussbaum argued that an approach based on her version of the Capabilities Approach is the one we need to address animal injustices, and she showed how it directs our efforts better than rival approaches.

    Justice for Animals event photo
    Introduction to Veganism, Speciesism, and Collective Liberation

    On April 4, Christopher “Soul” Eubanks, founder of APEX Advocacy, a nonprofit animal rights organization that teaches grassroots activism and creates various campaigns to empower Black, Indigenous People of color to advocate for animal rights, gave an introductory lecture into the philosophy of veganism and the inherent connections between nonhuman animal exploitation and human rights. During the talk, he highlighted why animal rights is a crucial component in achieving collective liberation for both nonhuman animals and humans.

    Christopher "Soul" Eubanks event photo
    Community Day at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

    On April 13, students visited the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, one of the largest urban refuges in the country. They had the opportunity to learn about the critically endangered Black-footed Ferret Reintroduction, as well as discuss managing a bison herd in connection with bison conservation initiatives. They explored the history of the site and how it came to be to protect wildlife and serve nearly one million visitors each year.

    Community Day at Rocky Mountain Arsenal event photo
    Protecting and Promoting Insect Welfare

    On April 18, the Institute for Animal Sentience and Protection, Animal Law Program, and Butterfly Pavilion hosted an engaging symposium on insect welfare, sentience, and the importance of considering animal welfare across species. This event showcased the groundbreaking work of Dr. Meghan Barrett, an insect neuroethologist and the Director of the Insect Welfare Research Society; Dr. Bob Fisher, the Director of the Society for the Study of Ethics and Animals; and Dr. Richard Reading, Vice President of Science and Conservation at Butterfly Pavilion, a nonprofit that fosters an appreciation of invertebrates by educating the public about the need to protect and care for threatened habitats globally, while conducting research for solutions in invertebrate conservation.

    Insect welfare event photo

     

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If you would like to receive emails about Animal Law Program events and activities, please click the button below or email Program Manager Jess Beaulieu at jessica.beaulieu@du.edu for more information.

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Supporting DU's Animal Law Program

The DU Animal Law Program's work is made possible by the sponsorship, generosity, and encouragement of donors. With that support, we can educate the next generation of attorneys who want to protect the interests and well-being of non-human animals. You can help support us directly by clicking the link below, or contact Program Manager Jess Beaulieu for more information about the various ways to contribute. Thank you for your consideration!

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  • Our Supporters

    The DU Animal Law Program is supported by generous gifts from the Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law and Policy, Inc., and other donors.

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Research

  • Ag Gag Past, Present, and Future (Justin Marceau)

    While the animal rights and food justice movements are relatively young, their political unpopularity has generated a steady onslaught of legislation designed to curtail their effectiveness. At each stage of their nascent development, these movements have confronted a new wave of criminal or civil sanctions carefully tailored to combat the previous successes the movements had achieved.

    Through this descriptive essay, Professor Justin Marceau reviews the history of animal rights advocacy and prosecution, describes the agricultural disparagement, or "meat libel," statutes, and discusses both the current status and future of Ag Gag legislation.

    Read Here

  • Animal Rights and the Victimhood Trap (Justin Marceau)

    Through this Article, Professor Justin Marceau examines the work of a notable segment of the animal-law field, which has prioritized law and policy achievements that recognize animals as victims of crime. On the one hand, animals are unquestionably victims. They endure considerable suffering at the hands of humans, and civil liability or non-carceral recognition of this victimhood is a distinct topic. The question this Article takes up, by contrast, is whether the crime victims' rights framing — imbued as it is with the rhetoric and logics of a tough-on-crime movement — represents a material gain for animals. Is the victims' rights turn in animal law exclusively or primarily rhetorical or expressive, or are there concrete, measurable gains for animals?

    Read Here

  • Beyond Cages: Animal Law and Criminal Punishment (Justin Marceau)

    For all the diversity of views within the animal protection movement, there is a surprising consensus about the need for more severe criminal justice interventions against animal abusers. More prosecutions and longer sentences, it is argued, will advance the status of animals in law and society. In Beyond Cages: Animal Law and Criminal Punishment (Cambridge UP, 2019), Professor Justin Marceau demonstrates that a focus on 'carceral animal law' puts the animal rights movement at odds with other social justice movements, and may be bad for humans and animals alike.

    For a review of this publication by legal scholar Angela Fernandez, click the button below.

    See Review

  • Carceral Logics: Human Incarceration and Animal Captivity (Justin Marceau)

    Carceral logics permeate our thinking about humans and nonhumans. We imagine that greater punishment will reduce crime and make society safer. We hope that more convictions and policing for animal crimes will keep animals safe and elevate their social status. The dominant approach to human-animal relations is governed by an unjust imbalance of power that subordinates or ignores the interest nonhumans have in freedom.

    In this volume Lori Gruen and Justin Marceau invite experts to provide insights into the complicated intersection of issues that arise in thinking about animal law, violence, mass incarceration, and social change. Advocates for enhancing the legal status of animals could learn a great deal from the history and successes (and failures) of other social movements. Likewise, social change lawyers, as well as animal advocates, might learn lessons from each other about the interconnections of oppression as they work to achieve liberation for all.

    Read Here

  • Cost-Effectiveness in Animal Health (Govind Persad)

    Through this chapter of The Routledge Handbook of Animal Ethics, Professor Govind Persad evaluates the ethical issues that using cost-effectiveness considerations to set animal health priorities might present, and its conclusions are cautiously optimistic. While using cost-effectiveness calculations in animal health is not without ethical pitfalls, these calculations offer a pathway toward more rigorous priority-setting efforts that allow money spent on animal well-being to do more good. Although assessing quality of life for animals may be more challenging than in humans, implementing prioritization based on cost-effectiveness is less ethically fraught.

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  • Friends of Every Friendless Beast Carceral Animal Law and the Funding of Prosecutors (Justin Marceau)

    In the mid-nineteenth century, the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Henry Bergh, saw criminal punishment as the lynchpin of the protection of animals. Bergh lobbied the New York legislature for the adoption of animal cruelty laws, and took it on himself to enforce those laws. Animal law has evolved considerably since then, but Bergh’s tactics have experienced a renaissance. The animal protection movement's reliance on criminal law and incarceration to prop up animal status is the subject of a book-length critique by Professor Justin Marceau in Beyond Cages: Animal Law and Criminal Punishment.

    Picking up on the book's call for greater scholarly attention to the relationship between criminal justice and animal protection, this essay focuses scrutiny on three aspects of the modern animal protection's fixation with criminal justice: (1) the animal protection movement's renewed interest in privatizing the prosecutorial function; (2) the view that by framing the animal as a victim, social change will be more readily possible; and (3) more generally, the view that prosecutors will serve as catalysts for the sort of radical social change the animal protection movement is pursuing.

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  • High Value Lies, Ugly Truths, and the First Amendment (Alan Chen & Justin Marceau)

    Lying has a complicated relationship with the First Amendment. It is beyond question that some lies such as perjury and fraud are simply not covered by the Constitution's free speech clause. But it is equally clear that some lies — even intentionally lying about military honors — are entitled to First Amendment protection. Until very recently, however, it has been taken for granted in Supreme Court doctrine and academic writing that any constitutional protection for lies is purely prophylactic — it provides protection to the truth-speaker by also incidentally protecting the liar. What remains unresolved is whether other rationales might also justify First Amendment protection for lies.

    Through this article, Professors Justin Marceau and Alan Chen argue that some lies — what they call high value lies — have instrumental value that advances the goals underlying freedom of speech. The article develops a trifurcated doctrinal taxonomy of constitutional protection for lies. Some misrepresentations receive no protection at all; some false statements are protected only because the protection of the liar ensures that the speech of the truthful person is not indirectly chilled; and, in their view, some lies must be protected for their own sake. This framework is descriptively novel and doctrinally important because Professors Marceau and Chen provide the first comprehensive look at the wide range of lies that may raise First Amendment issues in the wake of United States v. Alvarez, and analyze the proper level of constitutional scrutiny applicable to regulations of each type of lie. Beyond doctrine, they advance the thesis that constitutional protection for high value lies is firmly rooted in First Amendment theory because false speech can paradoxically facilitate or produce truth.

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  • Killing For Your Dog (Justin Marceau)

    Legal fields as divergent as family law, torts, contracts, and trusts have each, to varying degrees, addressed the unique legal status of pets. The rights and obligations of pet owners are a topic of increasing legal interest. Even the criminal law has grappled with the uniqueness of animals, to a limited extent, by criminalizing animal abuse. Legal developments such as these tend to counter the anachronistic view that animals are merely property. However, substantial pockets of the law have not yet grappled with the unique status of animals as something more than property but, perhaps, less than human.

    Through this Article, Professor Justin Marceau is the first to analyze the operation of the criminal defenses — the doctrines of exculpation — for persons who use serious, or even lethal, force in defense of their pets. By exploring the intersection of criminal defenses and the status of animals, the ambiguities in our common law doctrines of exculpation and the status of animals in America become apparent. The Article is less an argument for greater animal rights (or increased violence) and more a call to understand how the law’s current treatment of pets and pet owners is discordant with our social values and in need of reassessment.

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  • Pardoning Dogs (Sarah Schindler)

    Through this Article, Professor Sarah Schindler is the first to consider extending the pardon power to non-human animals, and the expressive function such an act might carry with it. This work analyzes the limits of the pardon power, and specifically the power of the chief executive to pardon a dog.

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  • Smithfield Trial Juror Interviews

    In September of 2022, Wayne Hsiung and Paul Darwin Picklesimer were put on trial for removing two pigs from a Smithfield production facility. The pigs were removed, given veterinary care, and are now living out their lives in a sanctuary. Despite the fact that there is video footage showing the pigs being removed from the facility, a Utah jury unanimously acquitted both Paul and Wayne of all charges, which included burglary and theft.

    The verdict has been celebrated by activists as recognizing a "right to rescue," and the case has been decried by factory farms as justifying, even encouraging, more efforts to rescue animals. The case has also been covered repeatedly by the New York Times, and it has spurred legislation in Utah attempting to prevent acquittals in similar circumstances in the future. This trial and the resulting acquittal are landmark moments for the field of animal law. Indeed, the very definition of animal law, or what it means to use the law to protect animals and improve their social standing, could be shaped by this case, or the backlash to the case, or the response by activists to the backlash from the case. The acquittal marks a rare win in a high stakes case for those who seek to shine a light on industrial animal slaughter.

    As part of an effort to memorialize the case and preserve the insights that can be gleamed from the process, the University of Denver's Animal Law Program took up the project of formally interviewing the jurors from the Smithfield trial. Professor Justin Marceau formally interviewed every juror who volunteered to participate in an interview within two months of the trial. Five jurors agreed to be interviewed. What follows are transcripts of the interviews. The IRB process at the University of Denver was fully complied with. The interviews are anonymized and have been modified slightly to remove any identifying information and to improve readability, but otherwise reflect a verbatim transcription.

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  • What Can Animal Law Learn from Environmental Law? 2nd Edition (Jess Beaulieu)

    With its intricate layers of international, federal, and state protections, environmental law is more established than animal law. Yet, animal law faces many of the same legal and strategic challenges that environmental law faced in seeking to establish a more secure foothold in the United States and abroad. As such, animal law stands to gain valuable insights from the lessons of the environmental law movement.

    In the Second Edition of this book, Professor Randall S. Abate has assembled an experienced team of academics, advocates, and legal professionals from the environmental and animal law fields to examine the experiences of these two fields. Jess Beaulieu is one of those contributing authors and through her chapter examines how wildlife can be protected through the Public Trust Doctrine, and more specifically, what animal law can learn from Juliana v. United States.

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Media & Reports

Animal Law Program Annual Reports

2021-2022     |     2022-2023

  • Jurors’ Reflections on the Smithfield Piglet Rescue Trial

    A qualitative analysis of interviews with five jurors who sat on the trial regarding the alleged theft of two piglets from a Smithfield Foods factory farm.

  • Denver Law Students Join the ASPCA to Advocate for Animal Welfare Laws in Colorado

    The Sturm College of Law recently collaborated with the ASPCA Government Relations team for a two-part legislative advocacy event.

    On February 10, we co-hosted a luncheon presentation, where the ASPCA and special guests, First Gentleman Marlon Reis, Rep. Valdez, and Rep. Bird, discussed animal welfare laws in Colorado, how the legislative process works, and how students can get involved. We had a tremendous turnout with a number of students excited to get involved and eager to learn more about career paths in animal welfare.

    Animal Law Program students meeting with the ASPCA


    As an extension of the collaboration, on February 16, a group of seven Denver Law students joined the ASPCA at the Colorado State Capitol for a lobby day, where students sat in on a live hearing, met with several legislators, and had the privilege of chatting with First Gentleman Marlon Reis and Colorado Governor Jared Polis. The also listened in on a Colorado Legislative Animal Welfare (CLAW) Caucus meeting where the ASPCA introduced their policy work.

    Colorado Governor Jared Polis (c) and DU Animal Law Program students joined the ASPCA at the Colorado State Capitol for a lobby day.


    We look forward to our continued collaboration with the ASPCA to continue driving awareness and engagement in animal welfare legislation in Colorado!

  • Animal Rights Issues
    An Evolving Topic Podcast

    Humans are animals — animals with rights. So what kinds of rights do non-human animals deserve? The right to liberty? The right to nurse their young? The right to socialize?

    In this podcast, animal rights experts Sarah Schindler and Steve Wise are interviewed about chimps, cats, and personhood. They discuss common law, Jurassic Park, Ancient Rome, woolly mammoths, and the Animal Welfare Act of 1966.

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    What Happy the Elephant's Legal Case Tells Us About the Future of Animal Rights

    Justin Marceau and Angela Fernandez discuss how Happy became the first animal to have a case for animal rights decided by a court of last resort in North America. New York's highest court, the New York Court of Appeals, unequivocally recognized that "elephants are intelligent beings deserving of proper care and compassion" and noted that under existing law, "they are not the equivalent of 'things' or 'objects.'"

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  • Factory Farming News
    An Animal Rights Activist Was in Court on Criminal Charges. Why Was the Case Suddenly Dismissed?

    "Matt's investigation of ventilation shutdown is probably the most important [factory farm] investigation in more than a decade," said Justin Marceau.

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    Animal Rights Activists Rescued Two Piglets from Slaughter. They Wanted to Get Caught.

    "Major institutions like the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States pushed to criminalize discrete animal abuse while generally leaving 'the capitalist structures that were pushing animal exploitation' unconfronted," said Justin Marceau.

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    Why the Anti–Factory Farming Movement Needs Direct Action

    By breaking unjust laws, activists want to confront a jury of regular citizens with the question: "Is it really right to send someone to prison for saving a suffering animal?" This is hard to do when regressive judges suppress evidence of animal cruelty, but as animal law scholar Justin Marceau asserts, it only takes one judge ruling a different way to start to change that.

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    Five Things to Know About the SCOTUS Challenge to California's Ban on Extreme Farm Animal Confinement

    "Given that a strong case can (and will through amicus briefs) be made that animal welfare is an extremely substantial interest, it would seem under existing law that the law would be upheld," Justin Marceau from the University of Denver said. But that's if the court adheres to the established doctrine on interstate commerce, which he called "a big if."

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  • University of Denver Magazine Articles
    Animal Law Program

    At DU's Sturm College of Law, a new program trains a lens on animal rights.

    Read Here
     

    Philip Tedeschi

    After years of service to the DU and Denver communities, Philip Tedeschi's companion and coworker, Samara, is retiring. Over the years, she's helped build bridges with people experiencing homelessness, and created a safe space for people recovering from trauma.

    Read Here

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Affiliated Faculty & Staff

Animal law both intersects with and impacts most traditional areas of the law. The affiliated faculty and staff of the University of Denver Animal Law Program represent many diverse legal backgrounds, from environmental law to constitutional law. They are always available to speak with students about opportunities within the many fields of animal law.

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Advisors and Fellows

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We foster an ambitious vision for the future of DU's Animal Law Program, and to help us achieve it, we draw upon a dynamic group of animal law experts and community leaders who serve as visiting fellows and members of our Board of Advisors. This group assists by providing research support, increasing the Animal Law Program's public visibility, and expanding our impact throughout Colorado and across the nation. Learn more about our visiting fellows and advisory board members in the profiles below, and discover the ways they are helping to advance the Animal Law Program and educate the next generation of animal rights attorneys.
 

Our Board of Advisors
  • Akisha Townsend Eaton
    Chief of Policy, Environmental Justice Division, Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity (CARE)
    Akisha Townsend Eaton

    Akisha Townsend Eaton began her animal law career in 2009 as an animal welfare fellow in the United States Senate. She has since served as a legislative attorney, policy advisor and managing attorney at a variety of national and international animal protection and lifesaving organizations. She currently serves as Chief of Policy, Environmental Justice Division, at Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity, a human and animal well-being organization.

    Akisha received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and her bachelor's degree from Stanford University, where she graduated with distinction.

  • Frances Chrzan
    Federal Policy Manager, Government Affairs & Public Policy, Mercy for Animals
    Frances Chrzan

    Frances Chrzan earned her BA at Indiana University and her JD from Lewis & Clark Law School. Frances is certified in animal law, served as Editor-in-Chief of Animal Law Review, and upon graduation she moved to Washington, DC, to engage in federal policy. She began her federal policy career advocating for animals used in experiments, and currently works on food system reform and farmed animal protection as Federal Policy Manager at Mercy for Animals. She enjoys vegan cooking and spending time with her rescue dogs and ferrets.

  • Giulia Malerbi
    Global Policy Lead, Aquatic Life Institute
    Giulia Malerbi

    Inspired by the principles of effective altruism and aware that welfare means much more than just good health, Giulia decided to dedicate her competencies, skills, and time to improving the lives of animals raised for food worldwide. She is currently working as Global Policy Lead at the Aquatic Life Institute and sits on the advisory board of Connect for Animals.

    When engaging with stakeholders, Giulia focuses on the importance of making the interlocutors understand what "animal welfare" means beyond false beliefs, stereotypes, or emotional illusions. Her strength lies in molding different points of view to offer new perspectives with a view toward identifying exploitable opportunities.

    Giulia holds a degree in Animal Breeding Techniques and an MSc degree in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors, playing sports, and playing music.

  • Trent Morton
    Staff Attorney, Legal Affairs Department, Mercy for Animals
    Trent Morton

    Trent Morton is a Staff Attorney at Mercy for Animals. Previously, he was Corporate Counsel at Hydro-Gear LP and an Associate at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP (now, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP). Trent is a member of the Outrun the Sun Board of Directors, the Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School Alumni Board of Directors, the Connect for Animals Board of Advisors, the Indianapolis Bar Association IP Section Committee, and the Society for American Baseball Research – Oscar Charleston Chapter Board. Morton graduated with a BS in Nuclear Engineering from Purdue University and a JD from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law.

Fellows
  • Manny Rutinel
    Manny Rutinel

    Manny Rutinel is a Representative for the Colorado State House, representing the great people of Adams County. Manny received his J.D. from Yale Law School. After law school, Manny was an Attorney for Earthjustice. Before law school, Manny was an economist for the US Army Corps of Engineers, where he also served as a First Responder in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Manny holds a Master’s in Economics from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s in Microbiology from the University of Florida.

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  • Will Potter
    Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Civil Rights Fellow
    Will Potter

    Will Potter is a Civil Rights Fellow and DU's first Distinguished Journalist in Residence. He is working closely with the Animal Law Program, and available to talk with prospective animal law students.

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    Interview with Will Potter
    Tell us about yourself and your background.

    Hi there! I'm an investigative journalist, author, and scholar who focuses on attacks on civil rights post-9/11, particularly how protest movements have been criminalized in the name of fighting "terrorism." I started my career as a newspaper reporter, and ended up on this particular "beat" after my own run-ins with the FBI. For more than 20 years I have documented political repression against social justice movements, and have been an advocate internationally against anti-activist and anti-whistleblower legislation and the rise of authoritarianism globally.

    What is your new role with the University?

    I'm really excited to be joining the University of Denver as the first Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Civil Rights Fellow. In this capacity I look forward to working with colleagues in the Animal Law Program and throughout the University on the intersection of animal rights and other civil rights movements, and sharing my scholarship on political repression so that it might assist social movements globally that are under attack.

    Why the University of Denver and the Animal Law Program?

    My work as a journalist and advocate has focused on using my scholarship to make a real-world impact and positive social change. The University of Denver, as an academic community, has forefronted public engagement and student-centered pedagogy. And the Animal Law Program in particular, under Justin Marceau's leadership, has demonstrated groundbreaking work, from the legal fight against "ag-gag" anti-whistleblower laws to innovative working groups that are bringing together scholars from the animal protection movement alongside leading thinkers on prisons and policing. I couldn't be more thrilled to have the opportunity to continue collaborating with people like Justin, Alan Chen, Laura Rovner, and other law school faculty at the intersection of these civil rights issues.

    What are you working on right now?

    I'm working on a new book project called Little Red Barns. It grew out of my drone investigations of factory farm pollution. It digs deep into the myth and symbol of the red barn, and how it has been used to mask systems of control that are toxic to both animals and humans. I'm also working with a major TV network on a new series that involves my work on Communications Management Units — secretive, discriminatory prison units on U.S. soil for "terrorists." And as much as possible, I aid in activist defense by collaborating and consulting on legal and policy efforts.

    Anything you'd like to add?

    If you're a potential student and you're on the fence about law school or whether the University of Denver is right for you, come talk to me! Really. Email me at will@willpotter.com or message me on Twitter @will_potter, and I'd be happy to chat!

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