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Professor Reintroduces Animal Law Using Innovative Programming, Including NextGen Bar Topics

Conley Wouters

Assistant Professor Conley Wouters is taking a unique approach to reintroducing animal law back into the UIC Law curriculum, including using the topic to help students better comprehend certain concepts covered on the current iteration of the bar and potentially the NextGen bar exam.

In his Lawyering Skills classes, Professor Wouters uses exercises concerning dog bite disputes and animal cruelty to teach bar exam topics and strengthen students’ lawyering skills and legal writing.

“Students already have to learn the topics tested on the NextGen bar exam, so teaching subjects like torts, contracts, and criminal law through an animal law lens introduces them to essential legal concepts while exposing them to a relatively new, rapidly developing field,” said Professor Wouters.

Professor Wouters hopes to bring animal law back to the forefront at UIC Law. In prior years, animal law was an elective that was a part of the law school’s general curriculum. For over a decade, students maintained a student chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), a national nonprofit organization that uses the law to advocate for animals. The ALDF has seen much success in securing greater legal protection for animals. In addition to the SALDF chapter and the Animal Law elective, the law school’s advocacy team excelled in animal law-related events. Between 2008 and 2015, the team either won or was a finalist in the National Animal Law Competition. The competition, which includes events in appellate advocacy, closing arguments, and legislative drafting, went on hiatus in 2016, but it was revived in 2023. Professor Wouters hopes to organize a team of interested students to enter the Spring 2025 competition, and to introduce them to the field through the new programs and opportunities below.

February 9 at 2 p.m.

  • Chicago Animal Law Student Project Zoom Info Session- Along with Adjunct Professor Cherie Travis (Depaul Law) and Michael Swistara, an attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Professor Conley Wouters is working on a project to connect students from Chicago-area law schools who may be interested in learning about animal law via direct action. The initiative would provide students with opportunities to work on various projects related to animal protection laws. This is not a clinic, so students will not be engaging in any supervised legal work. Examples of projects might include submitting comments or petitions to state or federal agencies, or contacting federal or state representatives who have worked on animal protection laws to discuss pending or potential legislation, or enforcement of existing laws, like the Animal Welfare Act. The project is conditional on sufficient student interest. Students from various law schools (Northern Illinois, Loyola, Northwestern, and University of Chicago) have RSVP’d for a zoom info session on Friday, February 9 at 2 p.m. No experience in or knowledge of animal law is required; all are welcome. Click this link to join us via Zoom!  For more information, or to register for the February 9 zoom info session, please email Professor Wouters at

February 15 at 3 p.m.

  • ABA Animal Law Committee Career Panel- Student representatives from the ABA Animal Law Committee will host a Zoom career panel featuring attorneys working in various areas of animal law. Registration is free. The event will include breakout room sessions for students to meet with the attorneys.  All law students are welcome and no experience in or knowledge of animal law is required. The event registration link also includes a link to join the ABA Animal Law committee. Register to Attend