Monday, May 18, 2009

"Equine Law Degree"

Hi! Remember me? The blogger on this blog? I have been really really busy, but I will start blogging again soon. I had work to do, real actual work and lots of it! I also got my house painted and my tiny tractor fixed and have been working on mowing my 5 acre yard for what seems like a lifetime. But I will be posting this week!

Here is a quick answer to a question some of you have been googling and trying to find on my site. I assume those someones are high school kids looking for career information. There is NO DEGREE in “equine law”. You go to undergrad school and get a degree there. Then you take the tests for law school and go to law school. Then if you are lucky you take a few classes in equine and animal law. You graduate with a law degree and then if you want, you practice, among other things that actually pay the bills, some equine law. Equine law is just regular old law, but it is when that law has horses in the facts.

There is no other degree in “equine law.” If you try and take an online horse course that includes equine law, that information is for your own use. You cannot charge others for legal advice unless you are a lawyer. If you do, you break the law and you will need to find a “criminal lawyer” to defend you.

So you have at least 7 years of higher education to complete before you can practice equine law. Then what? Do you just hang out a shingle and start collecting all those legal fees? Ummmmmnope. You do as much equine law as you can, but you do not get a “job” as an equine lawyer unless you get very, very lucky and possibly have a trust fund to actually support yourself. It’s not the exciting high paid career you might be looking for. It’s just being a lawyer, like all other lawyers, but if you are lucky about 50% of your cases might have horses or animals in them.

What if you have already gone to undergrad school and started law school and now want to know about equine law? If your school teaches equine law you can ask your professor. If it doesn’t, you can ask them to start teaching it. That is what I had to do. I had to ask the Dean and the vice dean of my law school to start teaching animal law so I could take the class. I had to support this request with evidence that almost half of other law schools taught at least 1 course in animal law. I even had to find and hire the professor to teach the course. But after just 6 months of constantly harassing and bugging and planting myself in the reception area of the Deans’ offices my school suddenly decided such a great course was a much better alternative to seeing me EVERY DAY and having me bug them again. I think it helped that the Dean’s daughter rode horses and that the vice dean loved his cats.

I only had to wait an extra year for the actual class. It was scheduled for my 2L year, but the professor had to have emergency back surgery and I ended up in “state and local taxation”, the only class left when my seminar in equine law got canceled. After sitting through a 3 hour tax class taught on Friday afternoons, there was no way I was going to leave law school without getting my animal law course! I had earned it. I DESERVED it!

And in my last semester I got to take the class and it was wonderful:> Not only did we have the best professor in the world for equine law, but she also had lots of actual experience as a real live litigator and even gave us the most useful tips on taking the VA Bar exam we had ever heard.

So, in conclusion, if you are googling “equine law degree” you have a lot to learn. You will have to go to law school. You will become a lawyer and then try and get clients with horses who need a lawyer. Sometimes your years of experience will help you serve your clients better then just some un-equine lawyer, but sometimes you will still just be drafting deeds or working on trusts or having to earn your keep doing family or criminal law. There is no special degree and there is no job waiting for you when you get out that will be exclusively equine law. Maybe 1 person every 15 years gets the one job that may exist, but with those odds you might just want to keep working on that dream of competing your OTTB in the Olympics? In time there will be more work in the field since once one lawyer starts suing people then other lawyers get work defending the other side, but if you are looking for a career in horses then you have to want a career in law and the horses are a rare bonus that makes the rest of the work worth it.


  1. you have an award waiting for you on my blog! :)

  2. Great post, hope it gets students seeking an "equine law" degree thinking. On the other hand, I'd sure like to find a lawyer who knows more about equine law right about now, so hopefully it's an expanding field ;)

  3. Most states have at least 1 good equine lawyer. I make referrals to other states all the time.

  4. I found this blog very helpful. Also, to be honest I was one of those high schoolers who googled "equine law". This really showed me what I would have to do in order to specialize in this field of law. What college do you recommend attending in California that woud appeal to law schools the most? Obviously an Ivy League would be the best, but what if I were to have good grades at a school lower than an Ivy League would I get accepted? Thank you!

  5. I was doing some research on equine law when I found your blog. Your writing and perspectives were very helpful, thank you!

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