11 Women Animal Lawyers Who Are Changing the Game in 2024

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 11 incredible women animal lawyers in Canada who are actively using the law to build a more compassionate future for animals.

Photo: Unbound Project

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 founded and taught the animal law class at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, and is author of the textbook, “Animals and the Law”.

2. Camille Labchuk

Camille Labchuk is the executive director of Animal Justice, Canada’s only national animal law non-profit.

Camille has worked to protect animals for over 15 years, and has litigated cases on behalf of animals 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. She is a regular public speaker, media commentator, and contributor to national publications.

3. Kaitlyn Mitchell

Kaitlyn Mitchell is the director of legal advocacy at Animal Justice. Prior to working with Animal Justice, Kaitlyn served as an environmental lawyer for nearly a decade. 

Kaitlyn drives Animal Justice’s work in several key areas for animal protection, including driving national legislation to phase out animal testing, working to end live horse export, ending the use of wildlife poisons, and combating ag gag laws.

Headshot of animal rights lawyer Alexandra Pester.

4. Alexandra Pester

Alexandra is a staff lawyer with Animal Justice with over five years of legal experience along with more than a decade dedicated to animal advocacy.

As a criminal lawyer in her previous practice, Alexandra represented animal rights and other social justice advocates who were prosecuted for their advocacy, and was involved in several high-profile cases.

5. Sophie Gaillard

Sophie Gaillard is a lawyer and director of animal advocacy at the 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 driven legal change in several key areas for animals, including ending breed-specific legislation and helping animals become legally-recognized as sentient beings in Quebec.

6. 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 an associate lawyer at Scott Law Group in Ottawa.

7. 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. 

8. Rebeka Breder

Rebeka Breder is a Vancouver-based lawyer with her own private animal law practice, Breder Law.

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.

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. 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 also the founder of ‘Paws of Empathy’, a program to teach animal law and empathy with the assistance of dogs.

Headshot of animal rights lawyer Kirsten Marsh.

11. Kirsten Marsh

Kirsten Marsh runs her own private law practice in British Columbia, representing organizations and individuals in a variety of animal law cases. She previously worked at a large, full-service law firm and has litigated at many levels of court, including in public interest matters.