News & Events

Posted January 10, 2008

Custalow Wins Animal Law Writing Competition

Elisabeth Custalow '09Elisabeth Custalow '09

E-mail  E-mail  
print  Print  
E-mail news  E-mail Newsletter

Mary Wood

The clients second-year law student Elisabeth Custalow is interested in helping can’t tell her what they want or need, but that won’t stop her from trying. Custalow recently won the inaugural Pet JD animal law writing competition for her article, “Protecting Virginia’s Animals: What Treatment Is Required by Virginia Law of Animals in the Commonwealth?"

Co-sponsored by Adaptibar and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the competition was promoted nationally to more than 100 law schools. Custalow’s article, written for a general audience, focuses on Virginia’s animal cruelty laws and legal requirements for keeping pets and companion animals. Pet JD is a Web site that provides networking for animal law attorneys and informative articles about the field.

Custalow, who serves as the vice president for speakers for the Virginia Animal Law Society, said she represents a wave of students and attorneys getting involved in the burgeoning field of animal law. “There have always been people who have been concerned about animal welfare,” she said. The creation of the Animal Legal Defense Fund “really led to the growing popularity in the field.”

With that organization’s creation, students interested in animal law had an employment goal, and chapters on animal law have slowly sprung up across the nation. The Law School’s chapter began in 2006, and now boasts 30 members who are active in pro bono projects concerning animal law.

This summer Custalow will serve as a researcher for Florida-based attorney Steve Wise, former president of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and a pioneer in the field.

Custalow aims to work on behalf of animals after graduation, either for a nonprofit or as a prosecutor, but acknowledges, “There are more people who want to work in the field of animal law than there are jobs available.” Custalow owns a thoroughbred horse and hopes to adopt a dog from the local animal shelter soon.
• Reported by Mary Wood