Pamela Hart, the director of the Animal Law Program at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, never stops finding ways to help others advocate for animals.
For example: She co-founded Sheltering Animals of Abuse Victims (SAAV) with her law school classmate Megan Senatori, whom she calls one of the most inspirational women she knows. She was the first to teach Animal Law courses at both the University of Chicago Law School and her alma mater, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
And she didn’t stop there.
Always looking to expand the field of animal law and equip people to defend animals and treat them humanely in the first place, this Wisconsin-based lawyer is launching three new educational programs this year alone.
Body Bark caught up with Hart to hear a bit more about how she got into animal law and what inspires her to keep going.
Let’s start from the beginning. What was your first job after school?
My first job after law school was working with my dad at his law firm. This was a great experience as I got to work with an excellent attorney, mentor, and, most importantly, my dad!
Did you always know you wanted to go into law and animal advocacy?
I did not always know I wanted to go to law school. In fact, I took 10 years off between Business School (undergrad) and law school. When I did return to school, I was ready! By the time I went to law school, I had already adopted Max. He was a German Shepherd mix from the ASCPA in NYC. Unfortunately, Max had seen abuse and neglect in his young life. He opened my eyes to the link between domestic violence and animal cruelty. This started me down my path of animal advocacy.
What prompted you to start teaching? Have you always had an interest in education?
When I was in law school, there weren’t any animal law courses or student animal law chapters available. After graduation, I and my classmate, Megan Senatori, approached the UW Law School administration about adding the first-ever animal law course. Thankfully, they were receptive, and we were able to develop the course curriculum and introduce UW law students to animal law. A few years later, I taught the first animal law course at the University of Chicago Law School.
You’ve had so much success in the industry. When did you realize this was the direction you wanted to take your career?
I am incredibly fortunate to be able to marry my passion with my profession. I have been involved in animal protection for almost 20 years. I have my dream job!
In 2001, you co-founded SAAV. What made you feel the need for this organization?
Max inspired me to recognize and care about the link between domestic violence and animal cruelty. When Megan and I first met, we’d frequently talk about how we wanted to use our law degrees to help animals. We quickly realized there wasn’t a safe haven program for animals in our community, as a result, SAAV was born. We are so fortunate to have incredible partners collaborating on this program — Dane County Humane Society (DCHS) and Domestic Abuse Intervention Service (DAIS).
You’re clearly a master at multitasking and confidently wear a variety of hats. Is there any secret sauce you want to share to future lady bosses considering making their passion their full-time reality?
I don’t think there’s a secret sauce necessarily. I think following your passion, believing in your purpose, embracing the unknown, and surrounding yourself with amazing, supportive, inspirational female leaders along the way will make things happen.
I take it back, surrounding yourself with inspiring women IS the secret sauce.
We absolutely love the way you styled your Body Bark piece. How would you describe your overall look and style?
I’m a busy mom and attorney who leans toward professional casual. I love Body Bark because you can dress it up or down, plus it’s unbelievably comfortable. Also, every time I wear Body Bark, I think of my incredible and inspiring friend, Catherine Poirier. Not only is she the founder of Body Bark, she is one of my dearest friends and favorite people on the planet.
One thing about you that may surprise people is…
I play a mean game of H-0-R-S-E with my kids. I’m in it to win.
Favorite way to spend the day in Madison, Wisconsin…
Summertime in Madison is the best! Whether it’s enjoying Wisconsin’s beautiful lakes, strolling around the world-class farmers market, or taking in the view at the Union, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be!
Your all-time favorite lady boss mentor is…
Joyce Tischler, founder of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Body Bark is so grateful to Pamela for filling us in on her career and how she helps make the world a better place for animals and humans alike! Want to know more about her story? Check out this article, and shop her Body Bark look here. We’ll be back soon with more from another inspiring boss woman!