Ashleigh Best

PhD Candidate

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Ashleigh is a PhD Candidate at Melbourne Law School and a member of the Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law. Ashleigh’s doctoral research examines the legal status of animals in natural disasters, marrying her long-standing interests in animal law, environmental law and jurisprudence.

Ashleigh has experience in legal practice in both the private and public sectors, having previously worked as a lawyer at Allens and later at the NSW Environment Protection Authority. She has extensive experience as a research assistant. Ashleigh has also taught Australian Constitutional Law, coached in the Phillip C Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition and guest lectured at Melbourne Law School.

Ashleigh holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Social Inquiry), a Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours and University Medal) and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She is admitted as a lawyer of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia. Ashleigh won several academic and mooting awards throughout her law degree and was named Valedictorian of her class. She published her Honours thesis in Michigan State University’s Journal of Animal and Natural Resource Law and has written for The Conversation.

Thesis Title

A case for granting animals a limited right to experience minimal suffering in times of disaster

Thesis Summary

Since Hurricane Katrina, there has been increasing recognition of the acute vulnerability of animals in disasters. In response, a number of jurisdictions have introduced emergency planning instruments, which are designed to manage the impacts of extreme natural and human-induced events on animals.

Ashleigh’s doctoral research examines the way the law applies to animals in disasters. She is interested in how disasters destabilise legal protections for animals, amplifying their vulnerability, and how the law might respond. Ashleigh’s research is cross-jurisdictional in nature and deploys both doctrinal and theoretical methods.


  • Animal Law
  • Administrative/Public Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Disaster Law
  • Environmental Law
  • International Environmental Law
  • Jurisprudence
  • Legal Theory
  • Natural Resources