Laura Ireland joined VLGS with over two decades of animal advocacy experience in academic and varied professional settings. She strives to combine her real-world experience with her passion for legal education and training to help the animal law and policy program support students, attorneys, and animal protection professionals create a more humane world for animals.
Laura graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a B.A. in environmental studies and minor in economics where she served as chair of the Environmental Center and ran with the cross country team. She earned her J.D. with a certificate in natural resources and environmental law from Lewis & Clark Law School where she served as editor-in-chief of the Animal Law Review, president of the SALDF chapter, PILP auction chair, and is an inductee of the Cornelius Honor Society. From 2001-2008, Laura was the founder and executive director of the National Center for Animal Law. The organization was dedicated to promoting legal education for animal advocacy while partnering with Lewis & Clark to develop their animal law program. Through NCAL, she raised the profile of the annual Animal Law Conference, grew the animal law curriculum and program offerings, and was the founder and director of the school's first Animal Law Clinic representing clients and assisting attorneys and animal protection organizations while providing students real-world experience. She established the National Animal Advocacy Competitions in 2004 with appellate moot court and closing argument competitions at Harvard Law School, legislative drafting and lobbying competitions at George Washington University Law School, and various mock trial competitions.
Laura was an associate attorney with the Animal Law Practice, contract editor and grant writer, animal services hearings officer, partner in the firm Gibbons & Ireland, LLP, and founding member and chair of the animal law section of the Oregon State Bar. For over a decade, she served as the director of a rural animal shelter with the goal of creating a model for progressive municipal shelters where she was a Certified Animal Welfare Administrator. She has experience in civil litigation, lobbying, non-profit formation and management, event planning, development, communications, animal care and rescue, humane education, and disaster preparedness and response.
Laura joined the Animal Law and Policy Institute in 2021 where she assists with program and curriculum development, event planning, fundraising and budget management, student support, and outreach. She is the advisor for the Animal Law Society student group, host of the Hothouse Earth Podcast, and co-teaches animal ethics in the online program.