I get a lot of inquiries from lawyers and law students about how they can develop a niche practice in equine law. Below are the most common FAQs and my responses.
1. Is there enough business in equine law to make a living?
The answer to this is a resounding "yes"! I honestly do not believe the state in which you live will dictate this, either. I left a big firm 3 years ago and have been exclusively handling equine matters since then. I now have more business than I know what to do with. And I *only* take equine cases. I truly believe that the smaller your niche is, the bigger your market becomes. I also believe there is enough work for a lawyer to have a niche practice *within* equine law!
2. Do your clients pay you?
Yes. I do handle some pro-bono cases by choice but my clients do pay and I have a competitive hourly rate. Getting paid for your work has nothing to do with the industry your client is involved in. This comes down to running your firm like a business.
3. What kinds of stuff does an equine lawyer do?
I think it depends on what kinds of matters you’re drawn to. While I can handle most types of equine-related matters, I do a lot of trial work. I was a litigator at the big firm so I was trained at the big firm for 6 years to try civil lawsuits. I represent horse owners in several main types of lawsuits, including 1) possessory disputes / recovery of horses being wrongfully held by someone; 2) enforcement of liens on horses; and 3) sales disputes (where the buyer is suing the seller for fraud, DTPA, breach of warranty). I represent individuals almost exclusively. I don’t do any criminal (i.e. cruelty cases) because they are not civil matters. If you’re interested in criminal, you can get a job with the county prosecuting those cases (think "Animal Cops"). Equine lawyer Julie Fershtman(Michigan) often represents the horse owner’s liability insurance company when someone sues a boarding facility or trainer, for example, in a personal injury matter. She has written a lot of books and you need to buy those and read them if you have not already done so. Joel Turner, an exceptional lawyer and person, often represents huge Thoroughbred farms in Kentucky in stallion syndications, racing syndications, and major business transactions.