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Job Opportunity: Staff Lawyer at Animal Justice

Animal Justice January 21, 2019

Animal Justice is a national animal law advocacy organization, leading the legal fight for animals in Canada. Our lawyers work to pass strong new animal protection legislation at all levels of government, ensure laws already on the books are vigorously enforced, and fight for animals in courtrooms across the country.

We seek an enthusiastic lawyer to join our team. The ideal candidate will be passionate about enhancing legal protections for animals, and will be responsible for assisting in the creation and implementation of Animal Justice’s legal campaigns and strategies related to all areas of animal use. The staff lawyer will be comfortable advocating for animals inside courtrooms and legislatures, as well in the court of public opinion.

Animal Justice is a small organization but is expanding quickly, and we are looking for someone who can grow with us.

Position type: Six-month full-time contract position with the possibility of becoming a full-time, permanent position

Reports to: Executive Director

Location: Toronto strongly preferred, other locations may be possible

Salary: Depends on relevant experience

Position responsibilities: 

  • Liaise with other Animal Justice staff, external counsel, and experts to develop legal campaigns and strategies, including litigation and legislative campaigns
  • Research and develop legal theories and strategies for litigation
  • Work closely with the executive director, external counsel, and others to draft, edit, and file lawsuits and interventions in court cases on behalf of Animal Justice
  • Work with the executive director and the board to develop and implement a comprehensive and integrated legislative and political strategy
  • Review and analyze legislation
  • Meet with legislators, government officials, and other policymakers to advance animal protection legislation and policies
  • Write reports, briefing memos, and other legal analyses on animal law topics
  • Research, prepare, and file law enforcement complaints with relevant authorities, including assisting members of the public in filing complaints
  • Prepare, file, and oversee freedom of information requests
  • Prepare and deliver presentations at law schools, conferences, community events, and Animal Justice events
  • Assist with the oversight and management of Animal Justice student clubs at Canadian law schools
  • Supervise volunteers, including lawyers and law students
  • Consult with communication staff in the creation of written content for Animal Justice’s website, social media platforms, and email communications to supporters
  • Assist other team members with special projects as required, including fundraisers, community events, and conferences
  • Maintain strong relationships with Animal Justice supporters and colleagues at other organizations
  • Travel as required to attend meetings, conferences, and other events
  • Other duties as assigned by supervisor

Position requirements:

  • A law degree, and called to the bar in a Canadian province or territory
  • Minimum two years experience practicing law
  • Thorough knowledge of animal rights issues, Animal Justice campaigns, social change strategies, and legal approaches to animal advocacy
  • An understanding of Canadian politics
  • Excellent written and oral advocacy and communication skills
  • Strong organizational and project management skills, self-motivation, and the ability to multitask, work independently, and meet quick deadlines
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to communicate effectively with colleagues and supporters
  • Ability to communicate in French is an asset
  • Proficiency with computer software, including Microsoft Office, Google products, and Dropbox
  • Personal commitment to Animal Justice’s philosophy and mission
  • Ability to travel regularly

Hiring process: 

Animal Justice offers a friendly and positive work environment, and is an equal opportunity employer.

Applications should include a resume and cover letter in PDF format explaining why the position interests you and how your experience and skills make you an ideal candidate, as well as a legal writing sample. Applicants in their first five years of legal practice should include law school transcripts.

Email your application to info@animaljustice.ca by February 8, 2019 with “Job 102 – Staff Lawyer” as the subject line.

Only candidates selected for consideration will be contacted. Interviews will be conducted in Toronto during the week of February 19, 2019.

Animal Justice

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OSPCA Enforcement Powers Deemed Unconstitutional in New Court Ruling

Animal Justice January 4, 2019

After hearing arguments from Animal Justice lawyers, an Ontario court has ruled that animal law enforcement by the OSPCA—a private charity—is unconstitutional because the agency is not sufficiently accountable or transparent.

Animal Justice intervened in the case of Bogaerts v Attorney General of Ontario, a legal challenge to the OSPCA’s investigative and police powers that was heard in a courthouse in Perth, Ontario in May 2018. Animal Justice was in court to ensure the best interests of animals were front and centre.

Animal Justice has long been concerned that while the public cares deeply about animal protection, the government pushes responsibility for enforcing animal protection laws onto a private charity.

The OSPCA receives minimal funding and must fundraise to support its operations. Animal Justice pointed out that this itself could be a conflict of interest as the organization may receive donations from the very individuals it may be investigating.

The OSPCA is also not subject to reasonable transparency, accountability, or oversight like other public law enforcement agencies, such as the police. For example, police services legislation and freedom of information laws don’t apply to the OSPCA, nor is it subject to oversight by the Ombudsman.

Because of Animal Justice’s arguments on behalf of animals, the court recognized a new principle of fundamental justice: That an agency with police or investigative powers must be transparent and accountable, or it will not comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Ontario government now has an incredible opportunity to review animal law enforcement, and ensure in the best possible way that it will benefit and protect animals from cruelty. Animal protection laws are currently the only laws still enforced by a private agency, and we are hopeful the decision will acknowledge government responsibility to lead the way and adequately fund animal protection.

The court has given the province 12 months to introduce a new system. It is not yet clear whether the province will appeal the decision.

Thank you for standing by our side to ensure our lawyers can represent animals in court when they cannot speak for themselves. We’ll keep you updated on how the government moves forward after this legal outcome, and let you know how the province’s future decisions in this matter will affect animals.

 

 

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Yes, I want to stay in touch! 

Animal Justice

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Court Strikes Down Ontario SPCA Law Enforcement Regime as Unconstitutional

Animal Justice January 3, 2019

OTTAWA—An Ontario court has struck down the province’s animal protection law enforcement regime, declaring that it is unconstitutional for the Ontario SPCA—as a private charity not subject to reasonable oversight measures—to enforce public animal protection laws. The Superior Court decision was released yesterday in Bogaerts v. Attorney General of Ontario, a constitutional challenge to Ontario’s provincial animal welfare laws and the way they are enforced.

The decision recognized a new principle of fundamental justice, declaring that under section 7 the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is unconstitutional for the province to assign police and other investigative powers to a law enforcement agency not subject to reasonable standards of transparency and accountability. The Ontario SPCA is not subject to freedom of information laws or the Police Services Act that apply to other law enforcement bodies.

Animal Justice, a national animal law organization, intervened in the case to argue that enforcement agencies must be accountable and transparent to ensure animals benefit from legal protections. Animal Justice shared many of the applicant’s concerns over the transparency, oversight, and accountability of animal law enforcement. The court agreed with Animal Justice’s contention, noting, “Overall, the OSPCA appears to be an organization that operates in a way that is shielded from public view while at the same time fulfilling clearly public functions. As stated by the intervener, although charged with law enforcement responsibilities, the OSPCA is opaque, insular, unaccountable, and potentially subject to external influence, and as such Ontarians cannot be confident that the laws it enforces will be fairly and impartially administered.”

The Court suspended the declaration of invalidity for 12 months to give the province time to devise a new animal protection regime, stating it would be “an untenable result” if a void of enforcement compromised animal protection even for a transitional period.

The Court also considered whether Ontario SPCA search and seizure powers were too broad, and whether provincial animal protection offences are truly criminal in nature and fall outside provincial jurisdiction, but found that powers and jurisdiction were both appropriate. In particular, the court adopted Animal Justice’s argument that search and seizure powers must be robust because of the importance of protecting animals, who are often kept behind closed doors and cannot report abuse themselves.

“Animal protection laws are the only laws still enforced by private agencies, and the court ruled that private enforcement without transparency and accountability is unacceptable,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice.” Animal Justice’s key concern is ensuring an accountable, well-funded enforcement system that protects animals to the maximum extent possible. The province of Ontario will now have an opportunity to revisit provincial animal law enforcement, and Animal Justice will support a system that puts animals first.”

The case was argued on May 16, 2018 in Perth, Ontario. Animal Justice was represented by lawyers Arden Beddoes of Arvay Finlay LLP, and Benjamin Oliphant of Gall Legge Grant Zwack LLP. It is unknown whether the decision will be appealed.

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The decision in Bogaerts v Attorney General of Ontario 2019 ONSC 41 can be found here.

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

 

 

Join the Animal Justice mailing list

Yes, I want to stay in touch! 

Animal Justice

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