The AVMA will turn a fledgling veterinary outreach program to law schools and the legal community into an ongoing activity.
The Executive Board approved the State Advocacy Committee's recommendation to continue the Legal Outreach Program.
The program has been around since April 2008 when the board approved its creation. It provides a veterinary perspective to the legal community on animal law issues. Veterinarians who have practiced in a clinical setting and attorneys familiar with this area provide law students, lawyers, and veterinary students with background information on the unintended consequences of awarding noneconomic damages.
Background information provided with the recommendation states that many of the law school and continuing education programs for lawyers are taught or presented by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, The Humane Society of the United States, or other animal rights proponents. The veterinary perspective in these courses has been almost nonexistent. Most of the time, law students and lawyers are not aware that there may be another side to the story on complicated issues such as pet guardianship and noneconomic damages.
The state legislative and regulatory affairs department in the AVMA Communications Division has contacted 19 law schools so far, developed a PowerPoint presentation, assembled a roster of 20 speakers, and conducted a training webinar for speakers. In all, the program coordinated eight presentations in fall 2008 and spring 2009, with several planned for this fall.
Originally, the board allocated $5,400 for 2008 and $16,250 for 2009 to cover speaker compensation, travel expenses, and speaker training for the program. Adrian Hochstadt, JD, assistant director for state legislative and regulatory affairs, said the cost was not as great as anticipated, and the program will be under budget for both years. Savings were realized as a result of using AVMA staff or local speakers and holding a webinar instead of in-person training sessions.
The board approved funding the program now at a cost of about $7,000 annually.