What do animal law paralegals do? How are they different from any other paralegal? What kind of people are best suited for this field?
Animal law paralegals may assist lawyers in the following areas:
Filing civil lawsuits to stop animal abuse and expand legal protections for animals
Prosecuting criminal defendants in animal cruelty cases
Lobbying to strengthen state anti-cruelty statues
Estate planning (How many of us can forget Leona Helmsley leaving $12 million dollars to her companion dog, Trouble?)
Custody disputes (When couples breakup or get divorced, negotiation regarding the care and custody of their companion animals becomes a legal issue.)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, animal law paralegals perform a variety of tasks common to the paralegal field, including but not limited to:
Conducting basic research
Drafting documents for attorney review
Reviewing staff-prepared drafts of agreements
Managing legal compliance for the organization and its affiliates
Provide legal administrative support, from copyediting to cite checking and quality control
Analyzing and summarizing documents
Maintaining legal publications and subscriptions
Maintaining legal filing systems and off-site storage
An animal law paralegal also performs a variety of secretarial tasks including:
Contacting and conferencing with clients
Compiling and updating standard operating procedure manuals
Ordering and maintaining supplies
Preparing documents, reports and presentations
Managing bills and vendor invoices
Opening, sorting and distributing correspondence of all kinds
Not unlike other branches of the law, an animal law paralegal’s casework may involve veterinary malpractice, animal welfare legislation, dog bite defense cases, discrimination, estate planning, constitutional issues, estate planning, purchase disputes, landlord-tenant disputes, suits against those who engage in negligence or cruelty toward animals in their care, and wrongful malpractice.
What education is necessary for a career in animal law?
Some say that a two-year educational program and a certification are all that is necessary to become an animal law paralegal. Others state that at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field is required.
What kind of people are best suited for a career in animal law?
This field requires an above-average capability in communications, both with people and with animals (although your contact with animal clients will most likely be limited). Reading, writing, analysis, speaking and listening are also essential skills. Patience is also highly essential.
A capable, efficient paralegal will find that job security is no concern. Law firms depend on skillful, organized paralegals to keep the workflow advancing smoothly. Once proven, a paralegal is essentially guaranteed job security.
In conclusion, an animal law paralegal must be a patient individual with good communication skills and have a passion for helping to protect the rights of animals. Most likely have a bachelor’s degree or certification in a relevant field. A graduate degree is always recommended but not required. Secretarial skills will also be necessary.