The Animal Law Committee of The Florida Bar presented two inaugural Outstanding Service Awards at the Annual Convention June 28, one to an active member of the Bar and one to a law student who made outstanding contributions to the practice and/or study of animal law in Florida.
Gregg Riley Morton, past chair and three-time vice chair of the committee, was honored for promoting the committee work, while demonstrating the importance of animal law and how it impacts traditional legal practice areas.
Morton launched the committee’s semi-annual newsletter, strived to increase the number of government attorneys and law school faculty on the committee, and helped plan and speak at CLE presentations about animal law.
He is also a member of the ABA’s animal law committee and represented the Animal League Defense Fund as amicus in Hynes v. State, 1 So. 3d 328 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009).
Since 2007, Morton has operated www.floridaanimallaw.com, a blog devoted to animal law issues affecting Floridians.
“I see the field continuing to grow exponentially, as new attorneys with an enthusiasm for animal law enter the field,” Morton said.
“I see myself working to educate others on areas where some of the great challenges lie, such as changing the laws to deal more effectively with animal hoarding and the humane treatment of food animals.”
The second award was presented to recent Florida State University College of Law graduate Kevin Schneider, who helped convert the law school’s Animal Law Society into a Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter so the organization had greater access to grant and scholarship opportunities.
Schneider, from Boston, served as president of that organization, during his second and third years of law school. He coordinated a pro bono program that allows students to work on animal legal issues, helped organize an annual Animal Law Writing Competition for all of Florida’s law students, and recruited animal law experts to the law school to speak with students. One guest was a Harvard-educated professor who spoke about “carnism,” the psychology that animals were put on earth for the sole purpose of feeding and entertaining humans, and that they have no inherent value if they cannot be used by humans.
Schneider dedicated hundreds of hours researching and writing about legal issues involving animals and providing assistance to the not-for-profit Pets ad Litem (modeled after the Guardian ad Litem Program for children), an alliance of advocates and professionals providing a legal voice for animals.
“Kevin has just been incredible,” said Ralph DeMeo, CEO of Pets ad Litem and chair of the Bar’s Animal Law Committee. “Florida State has a strong commitment to pro bono service, and he has been a real supporter of that through Pets ad Litem. Students from other schools were nominated, but he was head and shoulders above all of them.”
FSU Law Professor Patricia Matthews, a member of the Animal Law Committee, nominated Schneider.