Science & Animal Law

Kimmela is at the center of the intersection of science and animal law. We offer new online courses and collaborate with top animal law and policy programs.

The field of animal law has been rapidly expanding globally, and there are now academic programs in North America and several other countries offering curricula in fields from litigation practices to legal philosophy to social justice to ethics. Kimmela is working to develop this field by bringing science to animal law.

Our current projects are:

Animal Law & Science Project

The new Animal Law and Science Project, co-directed with Professor Kathy Hessler at George Washington University Law School, was launched in November. The project is part of the Animal Legal Education Initiative at GW Law School.

The project will be offering programs and resources that bring together scientific scholarship, legal scholarship, and legal advocacy to create stronger protections for animals through legislation, litigation and policy.

Animal Law & Science Webinars

We are offering live interactive webinars at the intersection of law, natural science, and social science. The goal of these webinars is to introduce lawyers to the impact science has on law and scientists to the ways they can enrich animal law.

The first webinar, offered in January 2024, is entitled “Animal Law 101 for Scientists” and will focus on discussing how scientists can help strengthen animal legal efforts. Register here.

Two more live webinars – Natural Sciences for Animal Lawyers and Social Sciences for Animal Lawyers – will be offered in February and March 2024.

Dates and times will be posted on the Kimmela Facebook page and will be emailed to subscribers.

Animal Law & Science Listserv

The listserv is a vibrant public forum for discussion, news, announcements about Animal Law and Science. 

To subscribe, send a blank email (no subject or body) to the Animal Law and Science listserv here.

We invite you to share this link with your students and colleagues.

Online CLE Course

In collaboration with the Lewis & Clark Law School Center for Animal Law Studies we have released a new CLE Webinar: Using Law and Science to Help Animals”.

The webinar features Dr. Marino and Clinical Professor Kathy Hessler, Director of our Animal Law Clinic and Aquatic Animal Law Initiative providing an introductory overview of how lawyers can effectively use science in their animal protection legal work.

Approved for 1 Oregon continuing legal education credit (check for eligibility in other states).

Watch here.

The Synergism of Animal Law and Science

Lori Marino discussed the importance of bringing scientific knowledge of other animals to animal law in her presentation entitled “The Synergism of Animal Law and Science” on April 25, 2023, for their Animals, Law and Philosophy symposium.

The Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law is an academic center,

The Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law is an academic center, based in Cambridge, England, dedicated to the study, understanding and promotion of fundamental rights for non-human animals. Find more information here.

The Role of Science in Animal Protection Legislation

Scientific discoveries in recent decades have shown the lives of nonhuman animals to be far more complex than humans historically believed. Yet legal protections for many nonhumans – from cetaceans to elephants to farmed animals – have not evolved alongside this expanded knowledge.

In this March 2023 talk, sponsored by the Yale University Law, Ethics, and Animals Program, Lori Marino discussed the foundational role of the science of other animals in legal efforts to protect them, including recent legislation in the U.S. and Canada.

She also presented information about the new Animal Law & Science Project at George Washington University, the first academic program to bring science and animal law together in a formal way.

Brooks Institute Law and Science Summit

With the support of the Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law & Policy we are developing a program to bring together scholars in science and animal law for an in-person summit in early Fall 2022. 

This summit will initiate a broader program aimed at identifying areas in animal law and policy that can benefit from more integration with science knowledge and projects that will bring animal law and policy together with scientific expertise and experience in the most impactful way.

The Nonhuman Rights Project

he Kimmela Center has played a critical role in the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) litigation on behalf of captive chimpanzees and elephants in New York State.

Led by prominent animal rights attorney Steven Wise, the NhRP is working to change the common law status of large-brained, socially complex nonhuman animals from legal “things” or “property” to “persons” with certain fundamental rights like the right to bodily liberty and bodily integrity.

In presenting such a case to a court, arguments must be based on a solid foundation of scientific evidence for cognitive and emotional abilities – evidence that clearly demonstrates an animal’s eligibility for common law personhood.

Kimmela is uniquely positioned to provide the kind of scientific information and weight of expertise for the NhRP and other legal efforts.