Monday, June 13, 2011

The Challenge of Balancing Your Career & Caring for Companion Animals

I was recently presented with an opportunity to work abroad with an attorney in India for several weeks this summer. As a busy law student pursuing a career in international animal law, I couldn’t have dreamed of a better chance to get hands-on experience at my dream job. My first reaction: Yes! I’ll do it! Perfect! Excited!

And then reality struck: What on earth will I do with my three companion animals while I’m gone for an entire summer?! Not only do I have two dogs and one cat (a large number by typical law student standards), but each has their own issues that may make him or her hard to place. My cat, Kitten, is FeLV positive. My dog, Ajay, has dog aggression issues. My other dog, Hershey, needs large amounts of exercise to keep her energy level under control. How will I ever find other people willing to take on less-than-perfect companions for the summer?

As I started to face the task of finding temporary foster homes, I realized that so many of us are faced with a similar challenge: how do we choose between our companion animals and our career?

Obviously for most of us, we’re in the animal law field (law students, attorneys, advocates, etc.) because we like animals. I’m sure a lot of us really love animals. For many of us, that love of animals extends to our own companion animals. We are tasked with dividing our time between working for the greater good of animals and maintaining healthy, positive relationships with our own.

Whether it’s deciding to put in extra hours at the office or traveling away from home for days, weeks, or months on end, finding balance is a challenge to which those of us with companion animals can relate.

Personally, I try to “make up” for lost quality time. If I know I’ll be putting in some extra hours at the law library in the coming week, I try to make an extra effort to take Ajay and Hershey on runs and car rides (their favorite activities) or spend some extra snuggle time with Kitten. Doing this helps me feel slightly less guilty when I head out the door for what is surely going to be a long day away from home.

I got incredibly lucky by finding three wonderful people to care for my animals while I’m gone. Kitten gets to stay in my apartment for the summer and live with the woman, Anne, subletting it. Ajay, the troublemaker, will be living in a large house with a series of gates keeping him separated from the other dogs in the home until he feels comfortable enough to make friends with them. Hershey, my bundle of energy, will be hanging out with two other energetic dogs and will enjoy daily trips to the dog park.

Through my search for caretakers, I realized that I couldn’t take care of my three animals without the help of my wonderful network of family and friends. They are the ones that help me find and maintain a balance between working for animals in general and caring for my own. There will hopefully be numerous times throughout my career when I have the opportunity to travel abroad and now I know that I’ll be able to take advantage of those opportunities thanks to my network of support.

So, to Anne, Lily, and Karen, the amazing people who will be caring for and loving my companion animals for the entire summer, I express to you my deepest gratitude. And to my friends and family who help me daily, whether by letting my dogs out if I can’t make it home or understanding if I need to leave an engagement early, I also send you big thanks.

I wrote this on the airplane on my way to India for a three month stay. I’ll send lots more updates of my travels and am looking forward to expanding my knowledge of international animal law.

Claire Czajkowski
J.D. Candidate 2013
Lewis & Clark Law School

Claire & Ajay

Just Ajay

Hershey & Kitten

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Big ideas? and BIG ideas!

I made a New Year’s resolution that I was going to blog once a month. Well, umm… it’s almost June and this is my first post. If I blog two times a month from now until January 2012, can I claim success? The real question is, will I blog even a second time? I’m usually too busy with day-to-day Center business or pestering others for postings to actually write any of my own. So for now, let’s just call this an experiment.

It is quiet at the Law School these days. Spring semester is over and summer classes have yet to start. I find it to be a good time for reflection. For me, not only upon the last year but the last three I’ve spent working at the Center.

I moved to Portland in June of 2008, leaving my beloved Sonoran Desert quite literally behind in the dust. It was a leap of faith to say the least. A random job posting on Craigslist of all places started the journey north. The first time I visited Portland was to interview for that random job posting. The second time I visited was when I rolled into town along with Foxi Roxi, She-Ra, Chavo, Jebediah, and all of my worldly possessions and dreams to make a difference for animals in tow.

Those first few weeks, okay maybe months, at Lewis & Clark now seem surreal. I remember looking out the window of my then office overlooking Tryon Creek State Park. I was in awe of the big, green trees and the beautiful green ivy decadently hanging from the canopy and hugging the trees’ trunks. I’d always jokingly referred to Arizona as The Land of AZ but here in Portland I found myself in a real-life Emerald City. One can imagine my dismay when I learned the ivy I’d been admiring for weeks was Hedara helix or English Ivy, a horribly invasive specie slowly strangling the forest, determined to bring it down and destroy the homes of the many animals depending on it for safe haven. Sigh…. So much to learn.

And learn I have! It was a steep learning curve indeed but I was up for the challenge. Not only did I have a new job in a new city but the goals of our team were BIG to say the least. 2008 marked the start of the historic collaboration between Lewis & Clark and the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) via the Center. Lewis & Clark already had a great animal law program and a tremendous reputation as a leading environmental law school and wonderfully unique institution of higher learning. But now, we were striving to take the program to the next level. I am very proud to say, and I make no apologies about my lack of modesty, that we have achieved that goal.

The Animal Law Program at Lewis & Clark now boasts of more animal law courses than some schools might offer in an entire decade. Courses are taught by some of the biggest names in the field, folks whose works I’d read, lectures I’d listened to, and who I had generally admired for years prior to my northbound trek. Our visiting professors, much like our students, sometimes travel thousands upon thousands of miles to contribute to the enduring synergy. Our biggest events, The Animal Law Conference at Lewis & Clark and the National Animal Law Competitions, grew even more in popularity.

At the same time, incredible projects took root such as the symposia and forthcoming works addressing the outmoded use of animals in the toxicity testing of chemicals. (Visit our symposium webpage.) We wrote op-eds, like that about the lasting effects of abuse on Rose-Tu and perhaps Samudra at the Oregon Zoo, and we authored items like the amicus curiae brief we submitted in the U.S. Supreme Court case, U.S. v. Stevens, outlining why preventing animal cruelty is a compelling governmental interest.

Assistant Dean/Executive Director Pamela Frasch and Animal Law Clinic Director Kathy Hessler traveled thousands upon thousands of miles too. They authored or co-authored - well – I’ve lost count of how many articles and books on animal law! All of this in pursuit of furthering the field of animal law and our mission to ensure the interests of animals are always considered.

I have watched the field of animal law continue to develop in splendor. I believe that as a society we are starting to come to terms with the need to change how we view animals and our duty towards them. The time is ripe for increased dialogue and many are seizing the opportunity. Not just at law schools either; additional animal studies programs have sprung up at colleges too! Take for example, the Forum on Animal Rights directed by the magnetic Dr. Patricia McEachern and started by Mr. Bob Barker at his alma mater, Drury University. Or, the brand new animal studies program started by determined Lewis & Clark alumnus Sam Edwards ('95) at Green Mountain College. While the legal profession as a whole struggles, careers in animal law are only growing. The opportunities are ample and are emerging all around us, not just in random Craigslist ads anymore.

As I look back on the last three years, I feel good. When I look to the next three years, I feel even better. Truthfully, I can only imagine what new developments in animal law will materialize at Lewis & Clark (Animal Law LL.M.?!), not to mention beyond our Emerald City. There is much work to be done. After all, the law is slow to catch up, sometimes even to long-accepted social norms. There is still much for me and all of us to learn and almost endless gains to be made for animals. The continued support of ALDF, incredible colleagues like those in our award-winning Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program, visionary administrators like Dean Robert Klonoff, and of course the amazing students for whom we work so hard will foster positive change. In this, I have no doubt.

Soon, I will label my surreal musings of still-to-come successes on behalf of animals and those providing them a much-needed voice as simply real. Hell, I might even write a blog post about it.

Laura Handzel, J.D.
Assistant Director,
Center for Animal Law Studies

Pictured left: Photo of She-Ra by Juliya Lezhen

Pictured below: Foxi Roxi & Jebediah, the ever-watchful Chavo behind

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Everything Happens for a Reason

As Student Conference Coordinator for the 2011 Animal Law Conference at Lewis & Clark, I have been reading the newly published Animal Law in Nutshell, in an effort to gain a broader grasp of the myriad issues animal law encompasses. It leaves me wondering..."What do I want to focus on as an animal lawyer?"

The idea of becoming a lawyer is fairly new to me. I studied psychology and music in college, pretty set on becoming a music educator or music therapist. Through a story I refer to as, "The Best Disaster That Ever Happened," I found myself in Hong Kong for a summer, unable to volunteer at the organization I was scheduled to be at, and in need of a network of people with whom I could spend a few months. Animals Asia Foundation took me in, and I spent my summer helping with their moon bear campaign and teaching 'Professor Paws' courses. Professors Paws classes entailed bringing a certified therapy dog into a Chinese government-run classroom, and while teaching the children English, teaching the children to love and respect dogs and animals. At the end of four one-hour sessions over the course of four weeks, the children graduated as official "Pet Cadets," ready and able to stand and take a pledge to protect all animals.

Watching the children transform over the four weeks was so touching to me. I know how much my dog has meant to me growing up, and being able to share that love of an animal with children who formerly viewed them as dirty or scary - what a feeling being able to share something so important to me. Animals Asia's lawyer invited me back the following summer to work directly under her supervision, and well, the rest is history.

So here I am, in law school at Lewis & Clark, studying animal law, and wondering what I am actually going to DO once I pass the bar. I was inspired this morning by an email my dad sent me. I sent him a news article about a fox that accidentally stepped on the trigger of a gun, shooting the hunter that had been aiming to shoot him. My dad replied to my email with this little story:

Can you imagine the fox going back and telling his other fox friends what happened. He sits there with his bandaged wound telling the story: "So after I shot him, I told that hunter 'Don't you ever come back here again!' And then the hunter just ran away crying like a little baby."

They all laugh hysterically, emboldened for their own next encounter with a hunter. But suddenly, a small twig snaps in the bush. A hush goes over the crowd until they realize it was just an overweight squirrel. They go back to their laughing at the hunter, but perhaps a little bit more nervously than before.

Thanks for brightening up my day. I like to see the little guy win at least once in awhile.

Growing up with my parents, it would be impossible not to love animals. My favorite childhood story is from the time my parents let some squirrels live in our attic all winter, because despite the fact that they were eating our house, the squirrels had babies and my parents didn't want them to die in the cold. My mom used to come home with new companion animals it seemed like every week for a while - and every single one of them was the runt of the litter, or the bird that had plucked all its feathers out, or another animal that desperately NEEDED love and care. My parents gave me binoculars when I was little to watch the birds in the woods behind our home more closely. I could go on and on about all the ways in which my parents instilled in me a love and respect for animals, both companion and wild.

I was intrigued by the notion of studying animal law because it seemed that the law would be the most effective way to make change for the most animals. By changing the laws, and changing the infrastructure of our legal system as to not view animals as property, we can help an infinite number of animals. But as I re-read my dad's email this morning, and reflect on my experience teaching in Hong Kong, I am realizing that perhaps equally important as changing the law is campaigning for widespread humane education. If every child grew up hearing the values that my parents instilled in me, maybe we wouldn't need to have a law making it illegal to abuse a living being.

Maybe I will become an educator after all. As they say, everything happens for a reason.

Jaclyn Leeds J.D. Candidate 2013 Lewis & Clark Law School

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Finding Balance

Tonight I have forty pages of reading and legal writing work to complete. For the last few weeks I have been on a wild hunt for a summer job. Plus, I have to deal with life issues that do not stop just because I am in law school.

How am I supposed to keep up with all of this and still take the time to get involved in the many animal law opportunities available at Lewis & Clark Law School? Just keeping up with opportunities available through the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Center for Animal Law Studies is tough. Plus, how am I supposed to do everything I want and keep current on animal protection issues? After all, like many of my peers in L&C's Animal Law Program, animals are the reason I am in law school. I am pretty sure I am not the only one who constantly thinks about the issue of finding some semblance of life balance while studying law (or at least I hope not).

I have been working hard trying to figure out how to balance it all. I don’t have any fabulously wise advice for anyone but what has been working for me is to get involved a little at a time. Add one straw to the camel’s back, feel it out, and then see if you can add another. After all, I'm pretty sure no one in the Animal Law Program wants a broken camel back literally or metaphorically.

Jokes aside, I think all law students should remind themselves everyday why they are studying law. Whether the goal is to run a successful business, become the world's greatest criminal defense lawyer or work in animal protection, we must stay focused and keep our eye on the prize. Otherwise, we risk getting too caught up fearing embarrassment in class should we say something wrong, or with what a particular torts case is about, or whatever the case may be. We are all here for a more important reason; we should remember that.

For me, I'm here with the ultimate goal of helping to better the lives of animals. I'm biased of course, but I think this is such a great goal that any of us here for the same purpose should stay laser-focused on it. While animal law is a growing field, it is still small and we are all needed if we want to make a real difference in the lives of animals. So, who cares if I get something wrong in class. I'm in class to learn and making mistakes is part of that process. What really matters is my ultimate goal.

This is my first-ever blog posting. I was told today blogging is the way of the future, so I decided to jump right into it. I hope to be back to share more thoughts but for now, I still have civil procedure waiting for me and I want to be able to get some much-needed rest.

Oh, and just in case you haven’t already heard, Dr. Ramona Ilea, Ph.D., of Pacific University will be speaking about “Philosophical Perspectives on Animals” at Lewis & Clark Law School on January 20th from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. in McCarty Classroom 1.

Michelle Pawliger J.D. Candidate 2013 Lewis & Clark Law School
Michelle with Rogue, a rescue she helped rehabilitate at Sanctuary One.
Michelle at the Oregon Coast.
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

2009-2010 Year in Review

The Center for Animal Law Studies, in collaboration with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, wishes you and yours the best in 2011. We've put together a special year in review "movie" for you as an expression of our gratitude. We are proud to contribute to the field of animal law and remain dedicated to "Creating the Next Generation of Animal Law Attorneys." 2011 holds a lot of promise for us, our students, colleagues, friends, and the continued development of animal law. It's an exciting time and we look forward to many good things to come; new animal law courses, new Animal Law Clinic projects, new students, new opportunities, and amazing work on ALL fronts. Cheers, Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark, in collaboration with the Animal Legal Defense Fund
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Blog Post Update From Jaclyn

As a quick update to my earlier post about the Truth in Fur Labeling Act - it just got passed by the Senate! Read more here. As soon as Obama signs it, it will become law, and all products containing real fur must be labeled as such, regardless of their market price. Way to go, Congress!
In other (almost as exciting) news, I have now officially completed my first law school final, and I survived (although perhaps I should wait till I receive my grades till I address whether I survived). Happy Holidays to everyone!
Jaclyn Leeds J.D. Candidate 2013 Lewis & Clark Law School
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