Animal advocate: Kate Brindle fights for the rights of the voiceless

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Kate Brindle is a Senior Public Policy Specialist for Farm Animal Protection at the Humane Society of the United States, where she works on legislative campaigns across the country. She and her teammates lead campaigns to prohibit the cage confinement of chickens, pigs and calves. She’s helped pass laws and regulations banning confinement in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah. 

Brindle is a board member of Attorneys for Animals and is the chair of the Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan. 

Brindle is a graduate of New York University and Michigan State University College of Law, where she was an Associate Editor of the Journal for Animal and Natural Resource Law and president of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund.  She has been featured in Food Dive and on CNBC. 

What would surprise people about your job? I think most people would be surprised to learn how few legal protections farm animals have, and the routine cruelty they often endure in industrial agribusiness. Mother pigs used by the pork industry and egg-laying hens are often crammed in cages so small the animals are virtually immobilized. I work with my colleagues at HSUS to eliminate this cruel confinement. 

Why did you become a lawyer? Ultimately, my decision to attend law school was driven by a desire to leverage the power of the law to create meaningful and lasting improvements in the lives of farm animals. I wanted to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves and use my legal expertise to fight for their rights, promote humane practices in agriculture, and shape a more compassionate society. Understanding that the law is a powerful tool for effecting change, I wanted to equip myself with the necessary knowledge and skills to advocate for the rights and wellbeing of these animals. Farm animals are often subjected to various forms of mistreatment and exploitation within the agricultural industry. They endure cramped and unsanitary living conditions, are subjected to cruel practices such as de-beaking, tail docking, and dehorning without anesthesia, and are often transported under stressful and inhumane conditions. There is a pressing need for stronger legal frameworks that recognize the inherent value and dignity of farm animals and ensure their welfare is prioritized.

What’s your favorite law-related movie, and/or book?  “The Firm.”

Who is your law role model?  Bee Friedlander has been an incredible mentor. She is one of the founding members of both Attorneys for Animals and the Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan. Her advocacy for animals inspires me daily. 

If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be? I’ve always been passionate about public policy, so it would be President of the United States.

What advice do you have for someone considering law school?  Take time to reflect on why you want to pursue a legal career. It's crucial to have a clear understanding of your goals. Knowing your motivations will help you stay focused and committed throughout your legal education and career. Also, law school can be demanding and time-consuming, so it's crucial to prioritize work-life balance. Establish a routine that allows for regular breaks, leisure activities, and time spent with family and friends. Engaging in activities outside of law school will help prevent burnout, maintain your mental well-being, and contribute to a more fulfilling law school experience.

What’s your proudest moment as a lawyer? When the United States Supreme Court upheld California’s Proposition 12, which is largely considered to be the strongest farm animal protection law in the world. To have the highest Court in the land declare that states are able to outlaw the cruel confinement of farm animals was a momentous day I will never forget. 

What do you do to relax? I like to run, and I also try to get massages once per month. 

What other career path might you have chosen? My background and my undergraduate degree are in theater, so I probably would have done performing arts. 

What would you say to your 16-year-old self? To stop worrying so much. Things have a way of working out the way they’re supposed to. 

Favorite local hangouts: I love Veg Head restaurant in Lansing, and Blondie’s in Flint, which has a fabulous plant-based menu. 

Favorite websites: I spend a lot of time on YouTube and also (since I’m always planning my next trip).

What is your happiest childhood memory?  Visiting my grandmother in Florida with my mom, dad, and brother. 

What is your most treasured material possession?  Framed photos of my family and the adventures we’ve been on. 

What do you wish someone would invent?  Time travel, and a way to add more hours to the day. 

What has been your favorite year so far and why? 2017 since it’s the year my daughter was born. 

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been? Iceland. Its natural beauty is so captivating and simply stunning. I’ve been there three times, and I can’t wait to return. 

If you could have one super power, what would it be?  I would like to be invisible. 

What’s one thing you would like to learn to do?  I would like to be fluent in Spanish.  

What is something most people don't know about you?  In addition to law school, I’m also a professional stand-up comedian. My goal is to perform stand-up comedy in all 50 states, and I’ve already done shows in 46 of them.  

If you could have dinner with three people, past or present, who would they be?  Andrea Dworkin, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ellen DeGeneres 

What’s the best advice you ever received?  That the universe always takes care of things. 

Favorite place to spend money: I absolutely love to travel, so my favorite place to spend money is on flights and hotels. Oh, and I’ve also been known to spend quite a bit of money on vegan donuts. 

What is your motto?  I don’t know if I have a motto per se, but I try to always remember to have empathy in everything I do.

Which living person do you most admire?  My mom.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?  Raising my daughter, and trying to guide her to become a well-rounded, happy, compassionate person who contributes to the world. 

What is the most unusual thing you have done?  In college, I interned at the Sally Jessy Raphael Show. Among my other duties, one of the things I had to do was hangout backstage with 90s rapper Coolio since he was a guest on the show, production was running long, and he was bored.         

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