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Harvard Law School announced the establishment of a $10 million endowment for its Animal Law & Policy Program last Wednesday, funded by the Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law and Policy.
The program was renamed the Brooks McCormick Jr. Animal Law & Policy Program after philanthropist Brooks McCormick Jr., who passed away in 2015. The HLS program provides opportunities for scholars, law students, faculty, and policymakers to better understand and devise solutions to animal mistreatment through a legal lens.
Brooks Institute President Timothy S. Midura said his organization, an independent think tank focused on animal law, was ready to establish a partnership in honor of McCormick.
“We felt that it was about time that we created a significant grant that memorialized the name of Brooks McCormick Jr., and it merged with our confidence in Harvard Law School’s program,” Midura said.
Chris Green, executive director of the HLS program, said he and his team first met Midura in 2017. His colleague Kristen A. Stilt, faculty director of the program, became an advisor to the Brooks Institute shortly after, Green said.
“We had several years of funding already secured, and so we didn’t ask [Midura] for anything,” Green said. “We just offered ourselves as resources having learned so much in building out the program here about the landscape of animal law, particularly the academic side of things.”
Midura said he witnessed the decency of the HLS program’s leading members throughout his time working with them.
“The interesting thing — and this goes to the integrity of both Chris Green and Kristen Stilt — is that they’ve never asked me for money,” he said. “And so I really had to go to them and say, ‘We’d like to explore a naming brand, which would be an endowment.’”
Midura said that he believes the partnership was one rooted in mutual respect.
“I think Kristen and Chris have seen the integrity of the way the Brooks Institute runs and have gotten to know our reputation, the man Brooks McCormick Jr. and his love for animals, and how he ran his life,” Midura said.
Green said that the HLS program always sought to be a “complementary” rather than competitive force in the context of animal policy programs at other law schools. What differentiates Harvard’s program, he said, was its “robust focus on scholarship.”
Max Hantel, a second-year law student who works at the program’s clinic, said he felt an increased excitement among his colleagues following the announcement of the endowment.
“Everyone was sort of buzzing about the news,” Hantel said.
Hantel said that the clinic provides students with the opportunity to directly engage with animal advocacy and legal reform.
“It has an outsized reputation for doing incredible, cutting-edge work and really impactful litigation but also asking really, really important questions about bigger normative policy, philosophical issues,” he said.
Kelley S. McGill, an HLS alum, said that the program and clinic were “transformational” to her law school career.
“I was able to have a real-world impact through some of the projects I worked on with the clinic,” McGill said. “To actually be able to make that kind of difference in a cause area that I care about while still being a law student was pretty incredible.”
Amanda Yancey, a director at the Brooks Institute, said that the endowment was a “testament” to the Brooks Institute’s faith in the program.
“It’s a signal to the world that animal law is here to stay — it’s a great day for the animals,” Yancey said. “We feel like Brooks McCormick Jr. would be quite pleased and we’re thrilled to see what comes next.”
—Staff writer Emmy M. Cho can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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