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Joan E. Schaffner Faculty Member


  • Associate Professor of Law, LAW , Law 2002 -
Research: My writing in the field of animal law has brought increased understanding and attention to the plight of non-human animals and the lack of legal protection they face. Recent book chapters and articles I have published have contributed to this understanding. Following my work with several colleagues as the lead editor of the special topic issue and resulting e-book "Sustaining Innovation in Compassionate Free-Roaming Cat Management Across the Globe" published in the open-access Journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science we have co-authored two articles expanding on the topic that were published this year. Additionally, in February 2021 I was instrumental in seeking the American Bar Association House of Delegates to adopt a resolution urging all nations to negotiate an international convention on animal protection. Soon thereafter I joined with my co-authors and coleagues to create "Lawyers for CAP" and we have drafted a Convention on the Protection of Animals for Public Health, Animal Welfare and the Environment, have created a web site and have begun outrreach to garner support for states to begin negotiation of CAP. Teaching: I taught two classes of Civil Procedure (4 credits each) and Sexuality and the Law (3 credits) in Fall 2021. I continue to rework my classes to focus more explicitly on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion and the systemic racism that permeates our legal system as well as our society more generally.Sexuality and the Law is the the only LGBTQ+-focused course in the curriculum. It promotes diversity and an understanding of how the law impacts the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals. Moreover, given the dramatic events of recent years this class demonstrates how the law evolves as public opinion and social mores change. Finally, I remain involved in the IP program at GW as EIC of the AIPLA QJ since 1994 and as faculty advisor to the Journal. Service: I am the faculty advisor to the GW Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Lambda Law. In addition, I host speakers/panels and conferences on animal law topics both for the law school community as well as the public. This year the Animal Welfare Pro Bono Project was active. The team had submitted our report and proposed legislation to address issues involving animals in the District to Councilmember Mary Cheh's legislative staffer. Three of the provisions of our report have been incorporated in legislation that was reintroduced to DC Council in December 2021. We are currently working on writen and oral testimony for the upcoming hearing on the bill and plan to work with Cheh's office to draft new bills focused on pet-friendly housing and breed-neural home insurance for the District. In addition, several students updated the state anti-cruelty summaries on the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys’ website that provides an invaluable resource for prosecutors as well as the public. As chair of the Journal Advisory Committee, I oversee the student organization briefs. I continue to work with each of the now four existing briefs--criminal, intellectual property, international, and Latinx Law Briefs--as well as speak with students wishing to start new Briefs and/or Journals. I have participated in the law school's strategic planning process by participating in the individual interviews and as a member of the design group on DEI. And I am a member of the FL Faculty hiring committee. I was a member of the Public Interest summer grant selection committee that reviews all PI summer stipend applications to award PI summer stipends to students working in the public interest in summer 2021. At the University level I serve as chair of the GW Dispute Resolution Committee of the Faculty Senate that works to resolve faculty grievances. Outside the university community I help promote the legal interests of animals not only through my publications but also as reviewer and editor of articles submitted to animal law journals, and through my active involvement in the American Bar Association (ABA), Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS), Animal Law Committee (ALC); the ABA International Section, International Law Animal Committee (IALC); and the Association of American Law School, Animal Law Section. I remain the newsletter editor for the ALC. I am in my third (and final) year as co-chair of the IALC and co-authored the IALC Year-in-Review article for the Section's Journal. I am co-chair of the Wildlife Crime working group that is drafting a resolution and report to urge the adoption of a fourth protocol to UNTOC on Wildlife Crime. I am working within the TIPS and International Law Sections to create a synergy within the ABA to address the plight of non-human animals. I am also a leader within TIPS more broadly, serving as co-chair to the Scope and Correlation Committee, and as a member of several other standing committees including Outreach to Law Students, Membership, and Long Range Planning. Additionally, I am a Fellow of the ABA.

Research Areas

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