12 Women Animal Lawyers Who Are Changing the Game in 2023

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

Photo: Unbound Project

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 the director of legal advocacy at 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 the acting executive director and director of animal advocacy and legal affairs 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.

Kira is also as an associate lawyer at Scott Law Group in Ottawa.

8. Krystal-Anne Roussel

Krystal is co-director and counsel at AEL Advocacy and an animal law research associate at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.

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.

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

Rebeka 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 in Montreal.

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.