Vermont Law School
|Vermont Law School|
|Motto||Law for the Community and the World|
|Dean||Marc Mihaly, President and Dean|
|Location||South Royalton, Vermont, United States
|Enrollment||601 (J.D.), 42 (MELP), 20 (LLM)|
|Bar pass rate||85.2%|
Vermont Law School (VLS) is a private, American Bar Association‑accredited law school located in South Royalton, Vermont. The Law School has one of the United States' leading programs in environmental law, and it is currently (2012) ranked #1 in Environmental Law by U.S. News and World Report; in recent years, the school has been ranked #1 in 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2007, and #2 in 2008 (never lower than #2 since rankings began in 1991, #1 ranked 13 times). 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 School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
According to The Faculty Lounge, 45.1% of the Class of 2012 was employed in full-time, long-term positions requiring bar admission, ranking 153rd out of 197 law schools. 
Profile of the 2012 JD entering class
- JD Class: 171
- LSAT 75th percentile: 158
- LSAT Median: 152
- LSAT 25th percentile: 149
- GPA 75th percentile: 3.52
- GPA Median: 3.22
- GPA 25th percentile: 3.00
- Students of Color: 25 (15%)
- Median Age: 25
- States and Territories: 40
- Undergraduate Institutions: 130
- Merit Scholars: 106
Vermont Law School's 13-acre (5.3 ha) campus resides in South Royalton in 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.
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.
Jonathon Chase, the late former dean of the 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 (43 km). As of January 2014, South Royalton does not have a stoplight.
Julien and Virginia Cornell Library
The Julien and Virginia Cornell Library opened in 1991. 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."
Vermont Law School was established 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.
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. 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.
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 & Environmental Studies (JD/Master of Environmental Management), Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth (MELP/Master of Business Administration), the 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), the University of South Carolina (MELP/JD), University of South Dakota (MELP/JD), and Northeastern University School of Law (MELP/JD). Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth has not held a VLS student for several years, however.
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. As noted, the ELC's program is consistently top-ranked by U.S.News & World Report. The ELC 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.  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 engages in litigation and advocacy, including: winning a major victory for the endangered gray wolf; protecting wetlands and tributaries; litigating on behalf 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.
Notable faculty and administrators
- Peter A. Bradford, current professor at Vermont Law School, former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
- Mark Cooper
- Douglas M. Costle, former Dean of Vermont Law School and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
- Philip H. Hoff, former Vermont Law School Trustee, 1983-1999, Trustee Emeritus since 1999
- Deborah Markowitz, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, former Vermont Secretary of State, adjunct professor
- James L. Oakes, Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Vermont Law School Board of Trustees (1976-1994)
- Robert D. Rachlin, Partner in Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC, the state's largest law firm, current professor at Vermont Law School
- Norman Redlich, Warren Commission researcher, VLS Board of Trustees (1977-1999)
- Benjamin K. Sovacool, founding Director of the Energy Security & Justice Program at their Institute for Energy and Environment
- Gus Speth, current professor at Vermont Law School, co-founder of Natural Resources Defense Council
- Arnie Arnesen, J.D. 1981, member, New Hampshire House of Representatives (1985-1993), Democratic nominee for Governor of New Hampshire, 1992, candidate for United States House of Representatives, 1996
- Vincent Illuzzi, J.D. 1978, youngest person ever elected to Vermont State Senate, State Senator 1981-2013, Essex County State's Attorney since 1998, unsuccessful 2012 Republican nominee for Vermont Auditor of Accounts
- Charles A. Murphy, J.D. 1990, member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee
- Sarah E. Buxton, J.D. 2010, member of the Vermont House of Representatives 
- Elizabeth MacDonough, J.D. 1998, first female and current Parliamentarian of the United States Senate 
- US News and World Report (2011). "Environmental Law - Best Law Schools - Graduate Schools - Education - US News and World Report". Retrieved 2011-09-23.
- Rosin, Gary. "Full Rankings: Bar Admission Required, Full-Time, Long Term", The Faculty Lounge, 30 March 2013. Retrieved on 2 May 2013.
- Vermont Law School (2009). "Vermont Law School - History and Mission". Retrieved 2009-04-27.
- Nemethy, Andrew (The New York Times) (1988-05-15). "Off the Beaten Track to Study Law - The New York Times". Retrieved 2009-04-27.
- Library Information (2008). "Information about Julien and Virginia Library: Collections" (webpage). Archived from the original on 2007-12-22. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
- Zezima, Katie (2008-06-29). "Law School Pays the Price in ‘Don’t Ask’ Rule Protest, New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
- US Supreme Court (2006). "Rumsfeld, Sec. of Defense, et al. v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, et al." (PDF). 547 U.S. ____ (2006). Retrieved 2006-05-04.
- "Dworkin’s Leadership at VLS Wins National Recognition". The Herald of Randolph. 2008-12-04.
- "Vermont Law School gets $450K for smart grid study". BusinessWeek. 2010-04-05.
- "Deborah \Arnie\ Arnesen". Harvard University Institute of Politics. Retrieved February 2, 2013.
- "VINCENT 'VINCE' ILLUZZI'S BIOGRAPHY". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved February 2, 2013.
- "CHARLES 'CHARLEY' A. MURPHY'S BIOGRAPHY". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved February 2, 2013.
- "Sarah E. Buxton's BIOGRAPHY". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
- Vermont Law School official website
- U.S. News & World Report - Environmental Law Rankings
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