Dallas solo Yolanda Eisenstein is working on a wrongful death case in the demand-letter stage that she acknowledges doesn't involve a lot of damages. That's because the case involves a dog that died after ingesting rat poison allegedly placed by a pest-control company; pets are worth a low-dollar figure in litigation, because they are considered property under Texas law.
Eisenstein is pressing forward to recoup veterinary costs on behalf of her clients, the owners of the deceased dog. But she's also on the case because of a principle. It's important to bring the pest-control company to the attention of people, Eisenstein says. "There's more to it than money."
The dog-poisoning case is just one matter on Eisenstein's diverse docket. She handles litigation, drafts trusts and other documents and helps nonprofits comply with the law.
The one thing all of her business has in common? Every case involves an animal. Eisenstein says she is Dallas' only full-service animal law practitioner.
"It's like having a general law practice," she says, "but all the cases involve animals."
While Eisenstein is a vegetarian who believes animals should be treated under the law as more than property, her law practice involves a diverse medley of real-world issues involving pets. For example, Eisenstein gives presentations to neighborhood associations, animal rescue groups and other nonprofits on how to comply with federal, state and local animal control laws.
She represents people "wrongfully accused of animal cruelty" and brings nuisance suits on behalf of neighbors fed up with barking dogs. And she can set up pet trusts, which are valid in Texas, to provide for animals upon their owners' deaths.
"My goal is to protect animals and help people be more responsible pet owners," says Eisenstein, who with her husband is the caretaker of an Airedale dog named Marley.
Eisenstein opened her practice in September 2007 after working for about three years for Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, a Dallas nonprofit, handling asylum claims of immigrant domestic violence victims.
"Amazingly, I have been busier than I expected to be," she says. "It may be easier than going into real estate or family law."