'A voice for the voiceless' - Law graduate honored for work in animal law field

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Christian Bucey originally planned to use a law degree for a career as a sports agent, and earned dual undergrad degrees from Ohio University in Sports Management, Business Pre Law and Management & Strategic Leadership.

But as he got closer to attending Michigan State University College of Law, Bucey realized that animals and animal law were his passion.

“Animals don’t have their own voice in our legal system, and I wanted to do everything in my power to gain the skills necessary to improve the lives of animals throughout our society,” he says.

“A phrase often used in animal law is being ‘a voice for the voiceless,’ and I try to carry that with me to always speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.”

Bucey found his niche at MSU Law—and where the recent graduate was honored on May 11 with the State Bar of Michigan’s Wanda A. Nash Award for exceptional scholarship in animal welfare. It was the third consecutive year an MSU Law student received the award, named after the founder of the SBM Animal Law Section.

In his 2L year, Bucey teamed with 3L student Kate Brindle—a winner of the 2016 Wanda Nash award—reaching the semi-finals in the team division National Animal Law Moot Court Competition. Both were nominated for “Best Oral Advocate” in overall competition. And in 2016, he won the Burton D. Wechsler First Amendment Moot Court Competition with teammate David Sheaffer.

“I enjoyed being in a program that allowed me to improve my public speaking and writing skills, and improve my analytical thought process to breakdown complex legal arguments,” he says.

Bucey thoroughly enjoyed his law school experiences.

“One of the many factors that led me to MSU Law was the amount of personal care the staff showed towards me as a prospective student,” he says. “I knew that if I had a question or concern via email or phone call, people were there for me.

“People often focus on the negatives of law school—the hours of studying and lack of sleep—but I think the positives outweigh those other aspects. The connections I’ve made with students and professors have helped me grow professionally and personally, and for that I’ll always cherish my time in East Lansing.”

Bucey spent the summer of 2015 interning at the Singapore office of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley, & McCloy LLP.

“One highlight was the incredible diversity of the people in the office and throughout the city,” he says. “There were times I could hear up to 10 different languages just walking to the train in the morning.”

On his return, he spent 10 months as a student clinician at the MSU Law Housing Clinic, and spent five months there as a research assistant.

“The housing clinic allowed me to help people in our community who would otherwise be left without representation because of the cost associated with the legal system, and allowed me to gain experience by representing tenants in court to avoid eviction,” he says. “Far too often people are at the mercy of our justice system. I made it my goal to learn the law to help those who cannot help themselves either because of the financial burden associated with legal representation or not knowing the proper avenues to pursue to gain relief.”

Last year, Bucey spent eight months as a litigation clerk at the Animal Legal Defense Fund in Cotati, Calif., working on state and federal animal law issues.

“I consider the work to be the most meaningful project I’ve ever been a part of, and wouldn’t change that experience for the world,” he says. “The passion and determination at organizations like ALDF mean a better and brighter future for all animals, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have helped in that cause.”

An Ohio native, Bucey has left the Midwest for Berkeley, Calif., and is studying for the California Bar Exam.

Having enjoyed his family’s rescue dog, a Golden Retriever/Border Collie mix named Parker, for seven years, Bucey and his girlfriend have adopted a one-year-old Rottweiler mix.

“He was at the shelter for most of his life due in part to anxiety issues and a heart defect which will shorten his life expectancy,” he says. “We named him Obi and intend to shower him with love for as long as we get to have him with us.”

Bucey, who enjoys watching and playing sports, and trying out new vegan recipes, is looking forward to life in the Golden State.

“My career goal is to help humans or animals that have been taken advantage of or exploited,” he says. “I want to help them through their struggles and have them know that someone is there in their corner.”

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