K&L Gates graduate Xanthe Shaw (pictured right) has always loved animals. When she learnt animal law was an area where she could apply her legal skills, she was initially drawn to prosecuting their mistreatment. In her final year of study, Ms Shaw worked as a paralegal for RSPCA WA for six months.
“I have since learnt that animal law involves many areas of law, such as constitutional, corporations, environmental, family and trade practices law, as well as questions of science and philosophy,” Ms Shaw told Lawyers Weekly.
“There is always a new question or concept to consider.”
“I think it is important to use whatever skill or vocation you have to help those who can’t help themselves, and for me that includes advocating for the rights of animals,” she said.
Ms Shaw, who works with the Energy, Infrastructure and Resources team at K&L Gates, is the recipient of this year’s Sybil Emslie Animal Law Scholarship. The national award recognises lawyers who are actively engaged with animal law and animal protection organisations and initiatives.
In her application for the scholsarhip, Ms Shaw was required to submit a statement outlining plans for the money and recognition should they be awarded the scholarship.
There, she outlined a plan to organise training lawyers at her firm on how to conduct criminal prosecution matters and other non-criminal matters the RSPCA would need help with.
“The training is delivered by RSPCA WA General Counsel and Inspectors, and is initially designed to introduce lawyers to animal law and to the work RSPCA does in prosecutions and forfeitures of neglected or abused animals.
“We recently held our first training session at our Perth office, which was well-received. I would love to see this training expanded, with sessions focusing on particular aspects of animal law for practitioners, or rolled out to universities to get law students involved in animal law from the very start of their careers,” Ms Shaw said.
The young lawyer said that she intended to continue working in the animal law space, in addition to pursuing a career in commercial law .
“I’ve found the best way for me to stay interested in the area is seeing the difference our pro bono work can make, by assisting in removing animals from harmful situations and giving them a happier life.
“I am fortunate to work for a firm that values and encourages pro bono service, which is how I have been able to continue working in the field as a commercial lawyer. I am able to work with RSPCA WA as a client of our firm,” Ms Shaw said.