The field of animal law has grown exponentially in Canada over the past decade. Animal law has grown from a small and largely unknown area of practice into a respected area of the law that only continues to gain recognition and momentum, thanks to high-profile court cases, media features, and passionate animal lawyers who have helped pave the way.
Animal law is now being taught in law schools across Canada, and courts are recognizing the need to protect animals like never before.
Today on International Women’s Day, Animal Justice is paying tribute to 12 incredible women animal lawyers in Canada who are shaping a more compassionate future for animals.
1. Lesli Bisgould
Lesli Bisgould became Canada’s first animal rights lawyer at a time when the field was in its infancy. Lesli began litigating in 1992 in the field of civil law, then opened her own animal law practice which she ran for a decade in Toronto. Leslie was previously an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, and is author of the textbook, “Animals and the Law”, exploring the legal concept of animals as living property.
2. Kaitlyn Mitchell
Kaitlyn Mitchell is a staff lawyer with Animal Justice, Canada’s only national animal law non-profit organization. Prior to working with Animal Justice, Kaitlyn served as an environmental lawyer with Ecojustice for nearly a decade. Kaitlyn has worked in several key areas for animal protection, including cetacean captivity, ending the use of wildlife poisons, and “ag gag” laws.
3. Sophie Gaillard
Sophie Gaillard is a lawyer and director of animal advocacy at Montreal SPCA — Canada’s oldest animal protection agency. Prior to working this position, Sophie was a lawyer in the Investigations and Inspections department at the organization. Sophie has campaigned on several key areas for animals, including ending breed-specific legislation and helping animals become legally-recognized as sentient beings in Quebec.
4. Victoria Shroff
Victoria is a Vancouver-based animal lawyer who has been practicing in the field of animal law for nearly 20 years. She leads her own private practice, Shroff and Associates, and is an adjunct animal law professor at UBC Allard Hall Law School. Victoria is a regular contributor to legal publications like The Lawyer’s Daily, regularly guest lectures on animal law, and is the founder of ‘Paws of Empathy’, a program to teach animal law and empathy with the assistance of dogs.
5. Hannah Brown
Hannah Brown is a program manager with Humane Canada, working to reform the criminal justice system for animals through the integration of the National Centre for the Prosecution of Animal Cruelty (NCPAC), the Canadian Violence Link Coalition and Criminal Justice System Stakeholder Training. Prior to her work with Humane Canada, Hannah worked in London, UK as a lawyer for 10 years and as a legal journalist.
6. Miranda Desa
Miranda Desa is Canadian counsel for Last Chance for Animals — a California-based animal rights organization working to end all animal exploitation. Miranda has been active in the campaign to oppose Ontario’s ag gag Bill 156, and testified at the Ontario legislature committee hearing on the legislation.
7. Kira Berkeley
Kira Berkeley is Co-Director and Counsel at Animal Environmental Legal Advocacy (AEL Advocacy), Canada’s first intersectional animal and environmental law organization. As a new lawyer, Kira is eagerly kickstarting her animal law career by launching this non-profit organization to better the lives of animals and the environments in which they live.
8. Krystal-Anne Roussel
Krystal is Co-Director and Counsel at AEL Advocacy. Prior to starting AEL Advocacy, Krystal worked on species at risk issues as a legal intern at East Coast Environmental Law and co-wrote a book chapter for Law and Veganism: International Perspectives on the Human Right to Freedom of Conscience with Camille Labchuk. Krystal also practices environmental law as a staff lawyer and Water Policy Coordinator at the Canadian Environmental Law Association.
9. Jennifer Friedman
Jennifer Friedman runs a private animal law practice in Ontario. Prior to opening her own practice, Jennifer was the first-ever counsel for the Ontario SPCA. Jennifer was instrumental in founding the first animal law section of the Ontario Bar Association, and is the author of the textbook, “Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, Annotated.”
10. Rebeka Breder
Rebek Breder is a Vancouver-based lawyer with her own private animal law practice, Breder Law. In 2019, Rebeka won the “Changemakers” category in Canada’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers awards. Rebeka works on cases involving dogs facing “destruction” orders, vet malpractice, wildlife, and more, and is involved in an ongoing lawsuit to stop Canada’s live horse export trade.
11. Alanna Devine
Alanna Devine is an animal lawyer with Devine Animal Law, her Montreal-based private practice. Alanna’s impressive career for animals includes her past work as Canadian director of Mercy For Animals, serving as a policy advisor to the mayor of Montreal, and for over a decade, acting as the director of animal advocacy with the Montreal SPCA.
12. Camille Labchuk
Camille Labchuk is the executive director of Animal Justice. Camille has worked to protect animals for over 15 years, and has litigated at all levels of court. Camille has been involved in high-profile exposés of the meat, zoo, and fur industry, was instrumental in passing Canada’s national ban on whale and dolphin captivity, and is a leader in the fight against ag gag laws.
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