As the newly-appointed Chair of the Rhode Island Bar Association’s ad hoc Animal Law Committee, I am happy to write this first column in a series of Animal Law Committee columns for the Bar Journal. On behalf of the Animal Law Committee, I want to express my gratitude to the Rhode Island Bar Association for facilitating the formation of the Animal Law Committee. We are especially grateful to Linda Rekas Sloan and Mark Morse for their support of the Committee’s formation and continued growth.
Animal law is a growing field and many attorneys want to know: What is the practice of animal law? A brief answer to this question is discussed below, but I write first to share with you how I entered the field of animal law: I have always considered myself to be someone who loves animals, never realizing until recently what it means to genuinely love them, not for who they are for humans, but simply for who they are as beings. After losing my nineteen-year-old brother to leukemia during my junior year at the College of the Holy Cross, I began to think more about suffering and what it means to, as the Holy Cross Jesuits teach, “be someone for others.” In my study of this topic, I immersed myself in literature within the realm of suffering, such as “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, “Letters on Life” by Rainer Maria Rilke, and poetry such as “A n Ode to Melancholy” by John Keats.
After graduating from Holy Cross with an English degree, I was determined to pursue a law degree, so that I could, as Emily Dickinson writes, “stop one heart from breaking.” With a heart full of gratitude, I humbly received the Rhode Island Bar Foundation’s Thomas F. Black, Jr. Memorial Scholarship, and entered law school hoping to make a positive impact for others. I had to “pay it forward.” This sentiment was expressed in Linda Rekas Sloan’s message in the September/October 2017 issue of the Bar Journal.
Following law school, I worked for the United States Navy in Newport and then for a civil litigation firm in Providence. During my evenings and...