Emond Exam Prep: 3 Interesting and Unusual Fields of Legal Practice

When people find out that I’m a lawyer, they often ask for my legal opinion on TV show topics or high-profile criminal cases. Sometimes they ask for advice on real estate law, insurance law, or wills. People are usually surprised when I reply that I’m not really qualified to give legal opinions on those matters, and continue to ask for information anyway.

When we as a society think of lawyers, we tend to think of traditional fields of legal practice like criminal, family, property, patent, and so on. Law students sometimes feel limited by what they perceive to be their only choices, but many new options have become available. The practice of law now has innovative, interesting, and niche specializations for those who seek them. In this post, I’m going to talk about three unusual, up-and-coming fields of law.

Food Law

You may not realize it, but you see evidence of food law every time you go to a grocery store or restaurant. Food law includes a wide range of legislation and regulation that seeks to oversee the way we eat, serve, sell, process, and cook food.

The legislation and regulation that make up food law can be federal, provincial, or municipal. These laws exist to monitor the safety of the food we consume, govern who can serve us food (a hot dog stand, a restaurant, a food truck, etc.), and to oversee the training requirements for those who serve food to the public. Food law may also refer to the licensing processes that entrepreneurs and food producers must undergo to create a legally viable establishment.

Animal Law

Animal law is exactly what it sounds like: it deals with statutes and case law that concern animals. It may apply to wild animals, domestic animals, animals used for food and scientific purposes, or animals used for entertainment.

In Canada, animal rights are protected by a variety of statutes, regulations, and by-laws at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels. For instance, Canada’s Criminal Code treats animals as human property and sets out Wilful and Forbidden Acts in Respect of Certain Property. Ontario has an animal welfare act that introduces penalties for causing harm to any animal, including jail terms of up to two years and fines of up to $60,000.

While a good chunk of animal law is dedicated to preventing the abuse and killing of animals, an animal law practice may also deal with liability issues (e.g., death or injury caused by or to pets), professional liability issues (e.g., malpractice claims against veterinary clinics), farming and animal husbandry issues, and custody disputes involving pets.

Art Law

Art law, often also referred to as “cultural property law,” is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses everything from copyright and art theft to the restitution of illegally imported antiquities and art wrongfully looted during wartime. Although the term “the arts” may refer more broadly to music, theatre, and literature, the term “art law” traditionally applies only to visual arts.

Art law may include commercial transactions, tax law, contract law, intellectual property law, and private or public international law. In other words, art law is not a unified body of law that applies to all issues concerning the art world. Rather, it is a body of law that borrows from various disciplines to protect and regulate the creation, preservation, and sale of art.

If you are nearing the end of law school and have yet to decide on your future area of practice, there is no need to feel confined to the traditional options. There are many intriguing and unusual fields of law that you can investigate. So why not pursue your interest in art or passion for animal rights by practising in a field that is meaningful to you?

UPCOMING ONTARIO BAR EXAMS DATES

Barrister Exam: Tuesday, March 12, 2019  |  Solicitor Exam: Tuesday, March 26, 2019