February 23, 2024

Revolutionizing Animal Law Education in Chile

Diego Plaza (’20, LLM, Chile) shares how he’s advancing animal law education for his Global Ambassador Project.

by Diego Plaza

As a Lewis & Clark Law School Animal Law LLM alum and Global Ambassador for the Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS), I am thrilled to spearhead a groundbreaking initiative in Chile – the creation of a specialized, tuition-free course in Chilean animal law. This project, nurtured under the CALS Global Ambassador Program, not only offers valuable education but also serves as a beacon of change in the realm of animal rights and law, accessible to all interested individuals without cost.

The path to revolutionizing animal law education in Chile began with the foundation of two nonprofits that I helped establish – Centro de Estudios de Derecho Animal (CEDA Chile, founded during my studies at CALS in 2019) and the Fundación Justicia Interespecie (founded in 2021 following my graduation). These initiatives marked my first steps towards addressing the complexities of animal law and setting the stage for significant legal advocacy and education in the region. As the Executive Director of CEDA Chile and a Board Member of Justicia Interespecie, my experiences in the courtroom and the academic sphere have been instrumental in shaping a course that meets the urgent need for specialized knowledge in animal law, bridging the gap between legal theory and the realities of animal rights advocacy.

To transform my vision for establishing animal law in Chile into reality, I drew upon my extensive background in animal law and my unwavering commitment to animal rights. As the first Chilean to obtain an Animal Law LLM, I am committed to sharing my knowledge and expertise to improve the lives of animals and to educate and inform those who are passionate about advocating for them. This course is being offered by CEDA Chile and aims to spread and deepen the understanding of animal law in Chile. Offered virtually via CEDA Chile’s website, the course will commence in April 2024 and culminate at the end of June 2024. It targets a diverse group of learners, including law students, legal professionals, and anyone passionate about animal welfare.

Each week, course participants will delve into various facets of animal law, covering topics from philosophical approaches to practical legal challenges. The curriculum is crafted to provide a comprehensive understanding of the subject, blending theoretical knowledge with practical insights. We have invited eight guest speakers, each an expert in their respective field, to enrich the course with a variety of perspectives. These speakers include renowned animal law professors, prominent animal rights lawyers, and international doctoral students.

I proposed the creation and offering of the course as my Global Ambassador Project with CALS to cultivate a new generation of legal professionals and advocates who are well-versed in animal law and motivated to champion animal rights in Chile. By providing top-notch education and fostering a community of informed individuals, my goal is to spark a ripple effect – one that not only elevates animal law in Chile but also inspires similar initiatives globally.

More than just an academic offering, this course represents part of a larger movement toward recognizing and protecting animal rights through the law. The course provides an important step towards bridging the gap between legal education and the practical challenges of animal law. As we prepare for the inaugural session of the course, we are not only setting a precedent in Chile but also contributing to a global dialogue on animal law.

CEDA Chile recently launched the course and we are thrilled that it has generated unprecedented interest, with over 60 individuals pre-registering within the first 24 hours of opening applications. The overwhelming response has led us to contemplate offering a second iteration of the course in the near future, highlighting the growing demand and enthusiasm for specialized education in animal law.

I am grateful to CALS for providing grant funding to support the course and giving me this opportunity to extend the reach of animal law in Chile. I extend an invitation to all who share our vision of a world where animals are respected and legally protected. Whether you are a Chilean student, a legal professional, or simply an animal advocate, your participation in this course can make a difference. Together, we can chart the future of animal law, paving the way towards a more just and empathetic world for all beings.

Diego Plaza, a Chilean legal professional and Animal Law LLM from Lewis & Clark Law School (2020), is a trailblazer in the animal law sector, contributing significantly through education and advocacy. His notable involvement in landmark cases, including the U.S. federal court’s recognition of hippos as “interested persons” and the filing of Chile’s first habeas corpus petition for a non-human animal, showcases his commitment to advancing animal rights. Serving as a CALS Ambassador, Diego’s work transcends national borders, influencing international animal rights law and heralding a new era of legal recognition and protection for animals.


The Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) was founded in 2008 with a mission to educate the next generation of animal law advocates and advance animal protection through the law. With vision and bold risk-taking, CALS has since developed into a world-renowned animal law epicenter. CALS’ Alumni-in-Action from over 25 countries are making a difference for animals around the world. Through our Global Ambassador Program we empower and support our alumni they continue their animal law education and advocacy in the U.S. and abroad through their own innovative, individual projects. CALS is a nonprofit organization funded through donations and grants.