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Graduating Wayne Law student wins State Bar animal law award

May 13, 2014

DETROIT – Rebecca K. Wrock, who graduated Monday, May 12, from Wayne State University Law School, has won the 2014 Wanda A. Nash Award from the Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan.

Wrock was presented with the award at a reception Tuesday, May 6, in the Law School’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights. The award goes to the graduating law student in the state who has contributed most to the development of animal law.

She was nominated by Wayne Law Adjunct Professor Jerry Simonelli, who teaches animal law. 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, a Westland resident, is president of Wayne Law’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, shares her home with two dogs and a cat, and was instrumental in getting Simonelli’s course offered at the school.

“She was an outstanding student in my class and is an active SALDF leader, sponsoring a robust program of speakers and activities,” the professor wrote in his nomination. “Rebecca also serves as student representative to 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.”

Wrock said she found her role with the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund at Wayne Law to be one of the most fulfilling parts of her legal education.

“I can proudly say that even as a small group of only a few members, we offered many panels, presentations and events,” she said. “Although we’ve been a small and tight-knit group, I think we’re a testament to the difference that can be made by a few people who are really passionate about a cause.”

As a freshman at the University of Michigan, Wrock took a class called Relationships Between Humans and Animals, and was hooked on the topic, she said.

“Ultimately, my degree was in brain, behavior and cognitive science, but I felt like most of my classes ended up being in animal behavior,” she said.

In one such class, she learned about Class B dog dealing, where “random source” dogs are sold for research, and watched the documentary, Dealing Dogs.

“I knew then that I wanted to get involved with protecting animals rather than just learning about their behavior, and animal law got added to my list of legal interests,” Wrock said. “I really think that animal law is starting to pick up as a field. People battle over the custody of animals in divorce settlements and provide for their pets in their wills.”

Wrock has other legal interests, as well. She was president and a founding member of the Tax & Estate Planning Student Association at Wayne Law, 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.


Rebecca K. Wrock, second from left, shows off her Wanda A. Nash Award. With her are classmate Kenneth Cox, left; Adjunct Professor Jerry Simonelli, who nominated her for the award; and Jennifer Piece, chair of the Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan.

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