By Steve Thorpe
Rebecca Wrock has won the 2014 Wanda A. Nash Award from the Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan.
Wrock, who graduated Monday, May 12, from Wayne State University Law School, received the award Tuesday, May 6, in the Law School’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights. The award goes to the graduating law student in Michigan who has contributed most to the development of animal law.
“It was really special and a complete surprise. I didn’t know I had been nominated until I received the award,” Wrock said.
She was nominated by Wayne Law Adjunct Professor Jerry Simonelli who teaches animal law at the school. The award is named for the founder of the Animal Law Section of the Michigan Bar, the first state bar association to approve such a section.
Wrock, who is president of Wayne Law’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF), shares her Westland home with two dogs and a cat.
“Rebecca was instrumental in helping me get the animal law course approved and offered at Wayne State,” Simonelli said.
“She was an outstanding student in my class and is an active SALDF leader sponsoring a robust program of speakers and activities. Rebecca also serves as student representative on the Michigan State Bar Animal Law Section Council and was captain of Wayne State’s 2014 National Animal Law Competition Appellate Moot Court Team. In addition, Rebecca is currently a government relations intern at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).”
Although she said that she was leaning toward the law “around seventh grade,” it wasn’t until college at the University of Michigan that she became passionate about animal law. Wrock took a class called Relationships Between Humans and Animals, and was hooked on the issue.
“I took a ton of animal-related classes in undergrad,” she said. “In some of those we discussed issues that are now central to animal law. I had already decided on law school, but those classes opened my eyes to the fact that there was an area of law that dealt with animals. I decided that was something I wanted to be a part of.”
Wrock was also president and a founding member of the Tax & Estate Planning Student Association, acting president of the Wayne Intellectual Property Student Association, governor-at-large of the Student Bar Association Board of Governors, and a member of the Environmental Law Society, as well as a participant in Wayne Law’s Student Voluntary Pro Bono Program, for which she was awarded a Warrior Pro Bono Award.
“I’m hoping to pursue an LL.M. in tax law in the fall and ultimately practice in estate planning, tax, trademark, copyright and animal law,” she said.
Simonelli said that he believes that Wrock will have a bright future in law and will demonstrate that the award is not misplaced.
“Rebecca will clearly be a leader in animal law and advocacy in the future and she will advance the kind of passionate and effective animal advocacy that Wanda envisioned.”