Seeds are defined as “the source, origin, or beginning of anything,” giving rise in the context of Animal Law to three important historical questions: What were the seeds, who planted them in the United States, and into what have they blossomed in service to the cause of animal rights? These questions are important because the last several decades have seen the birth and exponential growth of a new field of jurisprudence, mostly in the United States, but also elsewhere in the world: Animal Law.

As noted above, Joyce Tischler, attorney, founder, and president of Animal Legal Defense Fund has identified the beginning of Animal Law in America as when ISAR’s long-time chairman, Professor Henry Mark Holzer, with ISAR’s assistance, brought a constitutional challenge against a religious exemption to the federal Humane Slaughter Act. 

The federal case of Jones v. Butz was the first in the United States to expressly invoke the moral/legal concept of “Animal Rights.” According to Tischler, “the Butz case began the Animal Law movement in the United States.” A seed!

Professor Holzer and ISAR followed the Butz case with Jones v. Beame, the first state case in America to invoke the moral/legal concept of Animal Rights. Another seed!

Professor Holzer and ISAR then founded the Animal Rights Law Reporter, which, according to Joyce Tischler, became “the legal clearinghouse for animal rights law information.” A third seed!

Professor Holzer and ISAR later organized and sponsored the “First National Conference on Animal Rights Law,” attended by Ms. Tischler and other lawyers interested in Animal Law. At that conference, for the first time Professor Holzer publicly articulated his vision for using law and the judicial system on behalf of animals. A fourth seed!

Largely thanks to Joyce Tischler and a few colleagues, the major result of the Conference was to coalesce the attending lawyers, and others, into an informal network of like-minded individuals, and to identify the tools necessary to create an entirely new, separate field of law—one which would take its deserved place among other long-recognized practice areas such as corporate law, property law, criminal law, and many others. Animal Law. That network transitioned into the prestigious Animal Legal Defense Fund. A fifth seed!

If Professor Holzer and Helen Jones had been told that in only a few decades their conference would ignite an Animal Law revolution in the United States and eventually around the world, neither of them would have believed it. But, proving once again that there is nothing stronger than an idea whose time has come, in only a few decades that is exactly what has happened in the United States of America.

    • Courses in Animal Law are taught in major law schools, usually using books expressly written for that subject by Animal Law lawyers.
    • Conferences are frequently held for lawyers practicing Animal Law.
    • Lawyers draft Animal Law legislation, and lobby for their enactment.
    • Various law schools have nationally recognized clinical programs in Animal Law.
    • Some law schools hold moot court competitions on Animal Law subjects.
    • There is a national Animal Law moot court competition.
    • Professional law journals devoted solely to Animal Law are published.
    • Animal Law lawyers testify before legislative committees.
    • Laypersons and general practitioners with Animal Law problems use specialist lawyers.
    • Articles, monographs, and books on Animal Law proliferate.
    • National organizations have Animal Law lawyers on their permanent staffs.
    • Increasingly, college students enter law school wanting to practice Animal Law.
    • Animal Law lawyers consult with those needing specialized help, often working pro bono.
    • State and local bar associations have Animal Law sections and committees.
    • Lawyers file “friend-of-the-court” Animal Law briefs in many courts.
    • The American Bar Association has an Animal Law committee.
    • Animal Law lawyers litigate cases in federal and state courts.
    • The National Judicial College now teaches Animal Law.
    • Animal Rights Law Reporter – a critical element of Animal Law’s founding – has become part of the permanent online collection of the Animal Legal and Historical Center at Michigan State University College of Law. 
    • Increasingly, lawyers, law schools, the legal profession, and the judiciary are developing interest in Animal Law.

Many international beneficiaries of ISAR’s SEEDS awards are engaged in animal protection activities throughout the world, including but not limited to Slovakia, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Spain, New Zealand, Chile, India and Peru. 

Courses on Animal Law have been taught in dozens of law schools in America and elsewhere including India, Australia, and Spain.  

In nature, seeds beget flowers, and they beget more seeds. If a pair of the first Animal Law cases, and the other Animal Law activities of Professor Holzer and ISAR, begot these flowers, one can only imagine what in future they will beget for Animal Law and the animals whom this relatively new fully recognized legal discipline serves.  


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