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McGeorge professor receives SEEDS Award for work in animal law

Jan 28, 2020
McGeorge Professor Courtney Lee with students during an animal law.
McGeorge School of Law Professor Courtney Lee holds Lilo during a visit to her animal law class.

McGeorge School of Law Professor Courtney Lee found an outlet for her passion and love for animals at McGeorge, and now her dedication to their welfare has earned her recognition from the International Society for Animal Rights (ISAR), whose mission for the past 50 years has been to advance animal rights through education, legislation and the legal system.

Lee, professor of lawyering skills, teaches the Animal Law course at McGeorge and has focused her scholarly research and writing in this field. 

“I always have loved and worked with animals, but like many people, when I began my legal studies I did not realize that animal law was an area of academic study or practice,” Lee said. “I am so grateful to have the opportunity to teach the Animal Law course at McGeorge, the preparation for which initially fueled my scholarly agenda.

“It is especially gratifying to work with so many students writing about animal law issues for their classes and the Law Review. And researching animal law issues for my own scholarship is what wakes me up at four each morning so I can squeeze it in before the day starts for everyone else. It fulfills me.”

On Jan. 8, ISAR notified Lee she was a recipient of the SEEDS Award, which recognizes individuals and nonprofits “who have made exceptional contributions to the important and burgeoning field of Animal Law.” The term “SEEDS” pertains to planting ideas and growing this field of law—“seeds beget flowers and they beget more seeds,” according to ISAR.

Lee said she is surprised and honored to be among the recipients. 

“I am humbled to be considered any part of such prestigious company,” she said. “It is incredibly flattering to be recognized for doing something I love and that I would be just as happy to do in obscurity. To know that it matters to someone else as well makes me that much more inspired to keep going.”

In 2017, Lee won the John G. Sprankling Faculty Scholarship Award for her article “The Animal Welfare Act at Fifty: Problems and Possibilities in Animal Testing Regulation.” Her other scholarly research includes animal testing, animal hoarding, law enforcement animal encounters, industrialized agriculture (“factory farming”) and the federal Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act. She has served on the executive committee of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Animal Law and is a member of the American Bar Association Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Section Animal Law Committee. She also was the faculty advisor of the McGeorge Student Animal Legal Defense Fund.

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