Laura Hagen, Esq., is currently the deputy director of advocacy for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), where she has worked since February 2014. She has worked for many years advocating on behalf of animals, taking on roles with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Law Review (a Lewis and Clark Law School student-run academic journal), and the Massachusetts Animal Coalition, just to name a few. She graduated from Lewis & Clark Law School in January 2014, after taking a road to law school that was “neither straight nor clear,” she says.
Laura received her undergraduate degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in secondary English education. After graduating, she taught high school students who had been suspended or expelled. She moved to Boston in 2004, where she became interested in urban planning and social justice issues, and began volunteering at MSPCA shelters. She says, “I loved my work at the MSPCA…and decided that it was time for me to follow my dream, ditch my day job, and pursue a career in animal protection.” She began working with the organization’s advocacy and legal departments, which inspired her to rethink her previous career plans. According to Laura, “As a person who had a later start in the animal protection field, and who had already begun to build a career, the idea of then going to law school was certainly daunting. But I was hooked and wanted to keep growing personally and professionally, and a law degree seemed like the perfect path forward.”
While at Lewis & Clark Law School, Laura was active in the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapter there, and devoted much of her energy to Animal Law Review and helping to plan the Animal Law Conference. She also served as the SALDF mentor program coordinator, where she developed and managed a mentor program for new law students interested in animal law. In addition, Laura received an ALDF Advancement of Animal Law Scholarship and took part in the ALDF clerkship program while she was in law school.
In her current role as a deputy director at MSPCA, Laura manages advocacy campaigns, largely focusing on legislative and regulatory initiatives impacting wildlife. This includes legislation curtailing the wildlife trade (trafficking in ivory, rhino horn, and shark fins); protecting or enhancing protections for captive wild animals; and defending against efforts to expand hunting and trapping of domestic wild animals. She also works on issues impacting companion animals, such as animal cruelty laws and bills addressing puppy and kitten mills, as well as legislation and a ballot initiative to end the cruel confinement of farmed animals in Massachusetts. She adds, “My job requires that I develop legislative initiatives and strategy, write legislation, develop and manage coalitions and partnerships, and work with advocates, members of the public, and the media to educate about and promote a variety of animal protection issues.”
Laura feels that her work today ties in with her early interest in animals. She remembers very clearly going to a local shelter with her mother and taking home a terrier mix—not the collie she had originally planned on. She explains, “As a child I learned that animals were individuals and vulnerable beings who we as humans could either decide to help or to harm. I think of every animal that I work for today in the same manner. My goal has always been simple—to help in any way I can—and working on legislation, education, and advocacy gives me the incredible opportunity to help not only those animals in Massachusetts, but also those thousands of miles away that I will never have the opportunity to see or touch.”