Aaron Green (JD ’08) is one of a very few practicing attorneys who can count playing with dogs during work breaks as a job benefit. But Green’s job as an attorney for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) offers some unconventional as well as traditional benefits.
Green is a Litigation Fellow in the Animal Protection Litigation Section of the HSUS and began his work shortly after taking the Virginia bar exam last year. Specifically he works in the Companion Animals and Animal Cruelty section of HSUS’s Animal Protection Litigation department, where his focus is on puppy mill and animal fighting issues.
Green credits fellow alum Samantha Mortlock (JD ’07) with having a profound influence on his interest in animal law. “She really introduced me to the field when I met her my first year at Mason at the student organizations fair,” he says. “In addition to preceding me as president of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, Samantha helped me get my foot in the door professionally by suggesting a firm in D.C. where I ended up working my first summer. Of course, my animal law professor (and current boss) Jonathan Lovvorn introduced me to the various practical applications of animal law, and I have to credit all of the faculty at Mason Law for providing me what I truly believe to be a great legal education.”
It is difficult for Green to describe a typical day in his practice area.
“The only thing typical about my day is that it’s always different, challenging, and rewarding,” he says. “My current and past cases range from consumer protection and contract issues to providing assistance at various stages in criminal prosecutions. At some point in the day it feels like I’m working at a traditional litigation firm, others at a prosecutor’s office, and sometimes it seems like I’m in veterinary school! Of course, another fairly typical part of my day involves taking frequent breaks to play with one of the several dogs in the office. I challenge anyone to find a more relaxing ‘client meeting,’” he laughs.
Green is excited about the work he is doing and about continuing his career, whether in prosecution or additional nonprofit work on social issues about which he is passionate.
“Most of the positions I have held, whether they were legal positions or not, have been in the public interest—and I can’t stress enough how rewarding all of the work has been,” Green explains. “That doesn’t mean that public interest careers aren’t sometimes frustrating due to the challenges associated with bucking the status quo and having access to fewer resources than the private sector. I have found that these challenges also mean that positions like the one I’m in now are often hard to find because there are so few of them.”
That notwithstanding, Green offers some advice for finding these types of positions: “It’s clearly cliché by this point, but networking was invaluable for me to find and secure my fellowship. All through school I thought I was terrible at networking, but I found that by getting involved in an issue you care about, the valuable networking simply comes as an added bonus.”
The HSUS has the largest Animal Protection Litigation program in the country, with a staff comprising 13 lawyers located in Washington, D.C.; New York; San Francisco; and Seattle, as well as a network of over 1,000 pro bono attorneys working on dozens of active cases. To learn more about the Animal Protection Litigation section of the HSUS, visit their web site.
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