Bruce Wagman has dedicated his career to defending and improving animal lives. He is the only lawyer in a leading United States firm focusing solely on animal law. Bruce is the author of Animal Law: Cases and Materials, the main casebook for law school courses, and the lead author of A Worldview of Animal Law, the only global survey of animal law. He focuses on using his legal experience and creativity to foster a kinder world for all species.

Bruce has experience in virtually every aspect of the law pertaining to animals. He takes on issues including the use of animals in entertainment, biomedical research, animal agriculture/food production, animal cruelty, and wildlife control; as well as individualized cases involving dog bites, animal custody disputes, and injuries to, and caused by, animals. Bruce’s forte is his passion for each of his cases and his proven ability to turn that passion into winning arguments. He takes an “eyes on the prize” approach to litigation matters, always seeking to avoid trial while working toward a positive result for his clients.

Bruce’s clients include numerous animal protection organizations as well as private individuals. He has worked on behalf of many species, including birds, cats, chickens, chimpanzees, cows, deer, dogs, dolphins, ducks, elephants, elk, gorillas, horses (domestic and wild), lions, mice, monkeys, pigs, sharks, turkeys, whales, and wolves.

  • Experience

    • Humane Society of the United States v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service – served as lead counsel on the multi-year case, obtained affirmance by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals of federal Endangered Species Act protection for gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes states, upholding a federal court ruling stating the wolves’ delisting was illegal.
    • National Meat Association v. Brown (U.S. Supreme Court) – Defended California law requiring humane treatment of animals too sick or injured to stand or walk; prevailed at the Ninth Circuit.
    • Humane Society of the United States v. Jewell – obtained order vacating federal government’s decision to remove endangered species protection for gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes.
    • Statutory defense – Bruce has been involved in the defense of several animal protection statutes including laws protecting wildlife, livestock, sharks, and dogs and cats.
    • Front Range Equine Rescue v. Vilsack – Obtained temporary restraining order preventing the initiation of commercial horse slaughter for human consumption; part of a multifaceted administrative/legislative program to end horse slaughter in the United States.
    • Front Range Equine Rescue v. Jewell – Sued federal government for dangerous and untested surgical sterilization “research” on wild mares; in response, federal agency dropped the program while summary judgment briefing was pending.
    • Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest and Project Chimps– Negotiated release of chimpanzees from biomedical research laboratories, and founding member of board of directors providing the chimpanzees permanent sanctuary in Georgia and Washington State.
    • Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Woodley – Using unique North Carolina law, ALDF successfully sued animal abusers, resulting in rescue of approximately 350 dogs and 21 birds from an animal hoarder who kept the dogs warehoused in squalid conditions. After winning the dogs, Bruce assisted with the appeal, physical rescue, rehabilitation, and long-term foster care for all of the dogs.
    • Chesley Morton et al. v. Georgia Department of Agriculture – Oversaw team that sued the state of Georgia Department of Agriculture to enforce Georgia's Humane Euthanasia Act and help put an end to the illegal and inhumane gassing of domestic animals in Georgia's animal shelters.
    • Chimps, Inc. v. Primarily Primates – Represented two sanctuaries and fought for and obtained permanent homes for nine gibbons and two chimpanzees that had been taken from a situation where they were exposed to daily neglect and cruelty.
    • Animal custody – Bruce has represented clients in several cases involving disputes over pets, which range from mediation and negotiation to extended civil litigation.
    • Dog bites/vicious and dangerous dogs – Bruce has had over 30 cases defending the owners of dogs threatened with designation as “vicious” and/or “dangerous”, in order to prevent the imposition of restrictions or euthanasia after bite incidents.
  • Credentials


    • University of California - Hastings - College of the Law, J.D., 1991, magna cum laude
      Order of the Coif
      Thurston Society
      Hastings Law Journal, Articles Editor
      Honorable James Browning, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Judicial Extern
    • Columbia University School of Nursing, B.S.N., 1981
    • Cornell University, B.S., 1979

    Bar Admissions

    • California
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
    • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
    • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
    • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California


        • Hon. William H. Orrick, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (1991–1992)

        Professional Memberships

        • American Bar Association, Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section
        • Bar Association of San Francisco, Appellate Practice Section

        Teaching Appointments

        • University of California, San Francisco – Hastings College of the Law, Animal Law, Adjunct Professor (1996-present)
        • University of California, Berkeley – Berkeley Law, Animal Law, Adjunct Professor (2004-present)
        • Stanford Law School, Animal Law, Lecturer (2006-present)
      • Insights


        Penal Code Section 597.1 – From Every Angle

        State Humane Association of California

        Long Beach, Calif.

        Penal Code Section 597.1 – From Every Angle

        State Humane Association of California

        Novato, Calif.
        In The News
        News Release

        Schiff Hardin Attorneys Named to 2017 Northern California Super Lawyers Lists

        Six Schiff Hardin attorneys have been recognized on the 2017 Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists.

        In The News

        Wagman Examines Growing Animal Law Support

        ABA Animal Law Committee Newsletter

        In The News
        News Release

        Fighting For Life In The Wild

        Animal Law Committee Newsletter

        Other Publications

        • “Wildlife Law and Ethics: A U.S. Perspective,” (co-editor) American Bar Association (Apr. 21, 2017)
        • “Growing Up with Animal Law: From Courtrooms to Casebooks,” in Turning Points In Compassion: Personal Journeys of Animals Advocates (2015)
        • Animal Law: Cases and Materials, Fifth Edition (co-author) Carolina Academic Press (May 2014) — the first casebook for animal law courses in law schools, first published in 2000
        • “Orca Welfare Law Is a Strong Step Forward,” Daily Journal (Mar. 19, 2014)
        • "A Worldview of Animal Law," (co-author) Carolina Academic Press (Jun. 1, 2011)

        Speeches & Presentations

        Bruce is a frequent speaker at animal welfare legal conferences. He also teaches animal law classes at three Bay Area law schools and is a guest lecturer at law schools across the country.

        • “Penal Code Section 597.1 – From Every Angle,” State Humane Association of California (Nov. 4, 2017) (Dec. 2, 2017)
        • “Companion Animal Custody and the Law,” Clear Law Institute (May 22, 2017)
        • “Litigation Involving Shelters,” Symposium: Animal Shelter Law (Oct. 5, 2016)
        • Bar Association of San Francisco Arbitration Section, presentation on “Companion Animal Controversy – Custody Disputes and Dangerous Dog Litigation” (Jun. 2016)
        • “Animal Law For All Practitioners,” Thomson Reuters Live CLE, Los Angeles, Calif. (Oct. 12, 2015)
        • “Who Gets the Animals?” Companion Animal Custody and the Law, California Continuing Education of the Bar, Oakland, Calif. (Oct. 6, 2015)
        • “From Legislation to Litigation: Progress and Hurdles in the Puppy Mill Battle” Animal Law Guild, Los Angeles, Calif. (Sep. 26, 2015)
        • “Litigation as a Means of Changing and Interpreting Law,” State Bar of New Mexico , Albuquerque, N.M. (Sep. 18, 2015)
      • Citizenship

        Pro Bono Activities

        Bruce engages in significant pro bono work, both in his litigation and consultation practice. He is a board member and adviser to several organizations including Marin Humane Society, Project Chimps, and the United States Equine Rescue League. He is also a member of the Panel of Experts for the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance.