Harvard Law gets $10 million for animal law program

Pedestrians walk past a sign for Harvard Square outside Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
  • Harvard was among the first to teach animal law class
  • Donor has helped course of study expand among other schools

(Reuters) - Harvard Law School has received a $10 million donation from the Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law and Policy to endow its animal law program.

The program, established in 2014, is being renamed the Brooks McCormick Jr. Animal Law & Policy Program in honor of the gift, Harvard said Wednesday. It offers courses, fellowships and a clinic where students work on animal law cases and policy.

Brooks McCormick, Jr., whom Harvard described as an “animal lover,” was the great-grand nephew of Cyrus McCormick, who in 1834 patented the first mechanical crop harvester. (His father ran the family company, International Harvester, in the 1970s.) McCormick died in 2015 and two years later the Institute was founded in his name to protect animals.

“Recognizing that every animal has a unique and inherent value as an individual being, Brooks was troubled by the fact that animals are treated as property under the law,” said Institute executive director Tim Midura in a statement.

Harvard Law was among the first to offer an animal law course, in 2000. Today, more than three-quarters of U.S. law schools have offered such a class, according to Harvard. The Brooks Institute has worked with and supported animal law programs at Yale; New York University; the University of Denver; Lewis & Clark; and Vermont Law School.

(NOTE: This story has been updated to include the full name of the Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law and Policy and the name of Brooks McCormick, Jr., and to clarify that Harvard was among the first law schools to offer a course in animal law.)

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Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at karen.sloan@thomsonreuters.com