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Vermont Law School

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Vermont Law School
Motto Lex Pro Urbe et Orbe ("Law for the Community and the World")
Parent school University of Vermont
Established 1973
School type Private non-profit
Dean Geoffrey B. Shields
Location Royalton, VT, US
Enrollment 61
Faculty 44 (See List)
Bar pass rate 85.2%
Annual tuition
Outlines 5 (See List)

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Vermont Law School (VLS) is a private, American Bar Association accredited law school located in South Royalton, Vermont (a village of Royalton, Vermont). The Law School has one of the United States' leading programs in environmental law, and the Law School is currently (2011) ranked #1 in Environmental Law by U.S. News and World Report; in recent years, the school has been ranked #1 in 2009 and 2007, and #2 in 2008 (never lower than #2 since rankings began in 1991, #1 ranked 12 times).[1] The Law School offers several degrees, including Juris Doctor (JD), Master of Laws (LL.M) in Environmental Law, Master of Environmental Law and Policy (MELP) (formerly known as Master of Studies in Environmental Law (MSEL)), and dual degrees with a diverse range of institutions, including the University of Cambridge, the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the Thunderbird School of Global Management, the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Profile of the 2010 JD Entering Class

  • JD Class: 233[2]
  • LSAT 75th percentile: 159
  • LSAT Median: 156
  • LSAT 25th percentile: 153
  • GPA 75th percentile: 3.55
  • GPA Median: 3.37
  • GPA 25th percentile: 3.13
  • Students of Color: 27 (13%)
  • Median Age: 26
  • States and Territories: 44
  • Undergraduate Institutions: 153
  • Merit Scholars: 109


Vermont Law School's 13 acre (53,000 m²) campus resides in South Royalton, central Vermont. The campus is set just above the broad banks of the White River.

The oldest and centermost classroom building on the campus is the town's original schoolhouse, built in 1892. In 2005 the former town schoolhouse (the original Law School building in 1973) was renovated and renamed Debevoise Hall, after one of the first deans of the law school, Thomas M. Debevoise. Practicing what it preaches, the Law School emphasized environmental concerns in the renovation, as well as historical preservation and design efficiency. Debevoise Hall was the only LEED Silver Certified renovation building project in the state of Vermont. Debevoise Hall continues to serve as classroom space and now also houses administration offices, the Environmental Law Center, and the Yates Common Room.[3]

The James L. and Evelena S. Oakes Hall building was constructed and dedicated in 1998. Oakes Hall incorporates "green building" techniques along with the latest classroom technology.[4]

Jonathon Chase, the late former dean of Vermont Law School, liked to joke that South Royalton was the only town in America "with a law school and no stop light." Vermont Law School holds the distinction of being the law school farthest from a traffic light, at 27 miles. [5] As of December 2011, South Royalton does not have a stoplight.

Julien and Virginia Cornell Library

The Julien and Virginia Cornell Library opened in 1991.[6] The Cornell Library contains over 250,000 print volumes, including primary and secondary legal materials focusing on state, national, and international law. Its reference section includes legal encyclopedias and dictionaries and reference sources including bibliographies and form books. The library also possesses a collection of microforms including congressional documents, state session laws, and briefs. The library's electronic collection includes access to LexisNexis and Westlaw and other online gateways and databases, as well as a large catalog of full-text electronic journals and books and databases offering primary legal materials.

As Vermont Law School offers a world-class environmental law program, the library maintains "an extensive interdisciplinary environmental collection, including journals, monographs, electronic resources, and other material related to the study of the environment and environmental law and policy".[7]</blockquote>


Vermont Law School was established by Anthony Doria in the summer of 1973 with 113 students. In December 1973, VLS was certified by the Vermont State Board of Education as an institution of higher learning. Provisional ABA approval came in February 1975. Bells rang when the news arrived, and classes were canceled. A full complement of classes arrived on campus for the fall 1975 term. The law school's charter class graduated in spring 1976. Full approval by the ABA came in 1978, and the law school was accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) in 1980. VLS became a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) in 1981.[3]

Solomon Amendment

Vermont Law School is one of two law schools in the U.S. to refuse cooperation with the Solomon Amendment, a statute passed by Congress requiring colleges and universities to allow military recruitment on campus or risk losing federal funding.[8] VLS refused and in doing so gave up over a million dollars in federal funding. The school is also part of FAIR, or the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, a consortium of 38 law schools and law faculties that challenged the Solomon Amendment in Rumsfeld v. FAIR, claiming that the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy was discriminatory. The district court ruled for the Attorney General, but the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the law schools. Oral arguments were heard before the Supreme Court on December 6, 2005, and a unanimous ruling for the government was issued on March 6, 2006, in part because the government could directly require campuses to allow military recruitment, it can therefore also indirectly require the campuses to allow recruitment or forego funds.[9]


As well as the Juris Doctor (JD), the Law School offers several degrees and joint-degrees to qualified candidates, including degrees with other Universities. Possible degrees include a Master of Laws (LL.M) in Environmental Law, a Master of Laws (LL.M) in American Legal Studies, a Master of Environmental Law and Policy (MELP) (formerly known as Master of Studies in Environmental Law (MSEL)), and a Joint JD/MELP.

The Law School has partnered with a diverse range of American and international universities to develop dual-degree programs for qualified candidates. American schools partnered with VLS for dual degrees include: Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (JD/Master of Environmental Management), Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth (MELP/Master of Business Administration), University of Vermont Rubenstein School of Natural Resources (MELP/Master of Science in Natural Resources), Thunderbird School of Global Management (JD/Masters of Business Administration), University of South Carolina (MELP/JD), University of South Dakota (MELP/JD), and Northeastern University School of Law (MELP/JD).

International schools partnered with VLS for dual degrees include: University of Cambridge (JD/master of philosophy), University of Cergy-Pontoise (France), and University of Seville (Spain).

Post-graduation employment

23.5% of the Class of 2009 were known to be working for law firms in the private sector nine months after graduation. [10] 11% of the Class of 2009 were unemployed nine months after graduation. [11]. These employment statistics are self-reported and not audited by an independent third party. [12]

The average Class of 2009 graduate had $127,914 of student loan debt. [13]

Centers, institutes, clinics, and programs

Law Centers and Research Institutes

  • Environmental Law Center--The Environmental Law Center (ELC) began in 1978 with eight master's degree students. Today, the ELC its program is consistently top-ranked by U.S.News & World Report, and confers both the Master of Environmental Law and Policy (MELP) and Master of Laws in Environmental Law (LLM) degrees. The Class of 2008 included 87 students receiving these master's degrees.
  • Institute for Energy & the Environment--The Institute for Energy and the Environment (IEE) is a national and international resource for energy law and policy. The institute offers a full course curriculum and a certificate of concentration during the academic year and through its Energy Summer seminars; distributes scholarly, technical, and practical publications; provides forums and conferences for professional education and issue development; and serves as a center for graduate research on energy issues, with an environmental awareness. The Institute’s research team is selected from top students in the energy and environmental programs at Vermont Law School. IEE student researchers work on some of the most pressing energy concerns the world faces today,including energy self-reliance, carbon sequestration, and renewable energy sources. The Institute maintains the IEE blog focused on current events and research.
  • Environmental Tax Policy Institute--The Institute analyzes ways in which taxation can address environmental problems. As a resource for the public and private sectors, non-governmental organizations, the press and academia, the Institute seeks to better inform the public policy debate about the role of environmental taxes at the local, state and federal levels.
  • Land Use Institute--The Land Use Institute (LUI) addresses intensifying land use law and policy issues at the local, national, and international levels that critically pertain to the development of a sustainable society. These issues include application of smart growth principles, ecological planning, affordable housing, flood hazard mitigation, improving the confluence of energy and land use regulatory decision-making and other permitting processes, and land conservation strategies. LUI works with VLS faculty and students, and other nonprofit legal and professional planning partners, to provide sound and innovative information, experience, and education to advance the practice of land use law and planning. This mission is served through direct support for local and regional planning agencies, forums and conferences for issue development, preparation of legislation affecting critical land use issues, education and training for state and local land use planners and regulators, practical and scholarly publications, and graduate professional teaching.

Clinics and Experiential Programs

  • Environmental & Natural Resource Law Clinic--The clinic's advocacy has produced significant accomplishments and raised visibility of environmental issues, including winning a major victory for the endangered gray wolf; protecting wetlands and tributaries; standing up for the health of individuals threatened by the mining operations of a major, multi-national company; and defending a sacred tribal site. Student clinicians work on behalf of public interest, environmental, and conservation organizations, and learn how to find their way through the complex maze of laws and procedures that regulate economic development and resource extraction activities.
  • South Royalton Legal Clinic--The South Royalton Legal Clinic (legal clinic for the area's low-income residents) was established in 1979. In 2007–08, the clinic supervised 58 clinicians and work-study students and handled a caseload of 119 cases.
  • General Practice Program--The General Practice Program (GPP) was instituted in 1987. The GPP is recipient of the American Bar Association's E. Smythe Gambrell Award for Professionalism, a national award for law schools and other organizations in recognition for advancing professionalism in the practice of law.
  • Legal Clinic of Petrozavodsk State University - Under the patronage of Vermont School of Law at the Faculty of Petrozavodsk State University opened the first legal clinic in Russia in October 1995, supported by the Council of Judges


Vermont Law School students publish two legal journals, the Vermont Law Review and the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law on a regular basis several times a year. Both journals publish in print and online. In addition to regular publication, both journals sponsor annual symposia.

See also

External links


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