Online Feature

A New Age of Animal Law

Jareb Gleckel, Grace Brosofsky, Cheryl Leahy

The field of “animal law”—legal advocacy to improve the world for animals—is growing in the United States. To those unfamiliar with animal law, this growth may appear to result from a unified movement and, more fundamentally, to reflect a unified mindset that all developments in the field amount to progress for animals. For lawyers in the field, however, there is a very real and surprisingly sharp divide between animal welfare proponents, on the one hand, and animal rights proponents, on the other—a divide that influences legal strategy. This Article proposes that, with the rise of plant- and cell-based alternatives for animal products, the rights-welfare divide in animal law will start to collapse, and lawyering will play an even more central role in protecting animals. We do not, like “New Welfarists,” accept that advancements in animal welfare inevitably advance rights for animals. Rather, we believe that lawyers can, based on recent developments in the marketplace, advance animal rights through a careful selection of both abolition- and welfare-focused legal advocacy. This Article explores a combination of legal theory, economic theory, and doctrinal analysis to propose how lawyers can make the biggest difference for animals during this new age of animal law.