Our Team

Natalie Barefoot

Natalie Barefoot

Executive Director

Natalie is a U.S. attorney who believes that legal protections should be earth-oriented, community-inspired, and respect all living beings. By focusing legal strategies through the lens of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), Natalie advances protections for cetaceans and their ocean habitats.

Natalie spent over a year in the field working with scientists and others on the frontline of cetacean research and conservation to understand first hand the issues that cetaceans face. After her time in the field, Natalie founded Cet Law to address an identified need for high-end legal research and resources.

News Screen Shot - Farewell Spit stranding with Cody - calf

Natalie currently tackles international ocean issues as a senior attorney with Earthjustice and as a volunteer with Cet Law. Her previous work has taken her to five continents with the United Nations Environment Program, University of Miami School of Law, Hogan Lovells, and as finance specialist with Pact, Inc. Natalie loves to spend time with her clients diving, swimming, paddling in or on the water.

Helen Mitcheson

Helen Mitcheson

A solicitor practising in England and Wales, Helen has been passionate about marine mammals from a young age.  Prior to qualifying as a solicitor Helen worked as a marine mammal scientist and environmental consultant in the UK, the United States and Canada.  It was two summers spent in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, learning about the plight of the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale that opened Helen’s eyes to the importance of the interaction between scientific knowledge and law, and in particular the effective communication of this with regulators and policy makers.  This was a major factor prompting Helen to pursue a career in environmental law.

Helen was in the first year of graduates from the MRes in Marine Mammal Science from the University of St Andrews and she also has an LLM in Environmental Law from Newcastle University.  She regularly presents on the interaction between marine mammal science and law, including at the World Marine Mammal Conference in Barcelona in 2019, the European Environmental Law Forum annual conference in 2021 and the UK Environmental Law Association annual conference in 2020.  Helen is also a guest lecturer on this topic on the marine mammal science masters course at the University of St Andrews.

Helen is also a trustee of the Mammal Society in the UK, a regional co-ordinator of the UK Environmental Law Association, a qualified marine mammal medic with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue and holds a PADI Open Water Diving Certificate.

It’s not just marine mammals that hold a special place in Helen’s heart.  She also has three beloved cats who regularly assist at the computer and have been known to make guest appearances on video calls.

Orca

Orca

In Memoriam. Orca the cat was a key member of the Cet Law team. She never liked to be left out of a conference or Skype call, often making her presence and thoughts known. She was a fierce defender of cetaceans and their habitats, taking after her namesake as an intelligent, social, cultured, beautiful being, albeit with stinky fish breath. Orca liked her time “on” the computer as well, assisting to draft and send emails in an untimely manner and adding interesting perspectives to legal documents. Orca was well-known for her glow-in-the-dark dolphin collar, ladylike lounging and making sure that members of the Cet Law team were up and ready at the crack of dawn, whether they like it or not.