• The Power of the Law

    A small, committed law school in rural Vermont is quietly changing the world. Join us.

  • World-Class Thinkers and Doers

    Our students rock. They are scientists, hackers, hikers, and musicians; they are talented, sometimes quirky, restless, engaged, entrepreneurial self-starters and self-selectors who believe in community; they are idealists interested in practical training; they are friends, activists, and kick-ass lawyers. They are advocates and risk takers who want to change the world, not fit into it.

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    Vermont Law School students participate in clinics and externships that give them experience working with community groups, acting as court-appointed guardians for children, representing underserved clients, and conducting leading-edge research. They take part in national trial advocacy, in environmental and civil rights/civil liberties moot court competitions, and in arguments before the Vermont Supreme Court. They learn across disciplines and engage with the challenges and injustices of our time.

    Our alumni walk the talk across the U.S. and in 20 countries around the world. They are change agents who go into public and nonprofit sectors at twice the national law school average, who see a law degree as not only the start of constructive careers but of meaningful lives. They defend, litigate, and advocate on behalf of wetlands, clean air, and threatened habitats; on behalf of new immigrants, incarcerated mothers, and low-wage farm workers. They create value. At rallies and protests, public hearings, information sessions, organizational meetings, school board meetings, food banks: they show up.

  • What Power Looks Like

    In our communities and our world, law is how we divide our rights and responsibilities. It’s how we organize our corporations and co-ops, how we structure markets, how we create policies and regulations, how we agree, and how we resolve disagreement. Students truly interested in making an impact on the world—in the private, public, or social sector—need the tools of the law in order to know how to get things done. At Vermont Law School, we know where the power resides.

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    The next generation of leaders will tackle the most complex and pressing problems the planet has ever known. Climate change models now predict catastrophic environmental and social impacts by the year 2050. “As it happens, that span between now and 2050 represents the span of careers of the people sitting in our classrooms right now,” notes Vermont Law School Dean Marc Mihaly. “It’s important to change policy. But it’s more important to train the generation that will make new policy. 2050. That’s their shot, and they know it.”

  • All the Tools

    We have reached a historic moment. The environment has moved from an issue in society to THE issue. Every thinking person in industry, finance, government, NGOs—no matter the sector—is coming to terms with the seriousness of the fact that the human race is simply outgrowing the planet. The urgency and interest have created an area of the law so complex that it’s almost no longer a single field: It’s land use. It’s pollution control. It’s fisheries. It’s carbon sequestration. It’s energy.

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    In the face of almost overwhelming national and global problems, a determined law school in Vermont is providing the tools for solutions.

    If you care about the environment, energy policy is the single most important influence. If you care about energy, environmental realities are the single most important restraint. In America, where 40 percent of all carbon emissions come from power plants making electricity, the disputes about these issues are settled through the legal system. Vermont Law School—with the nation’s top-ranked environmental law program, with its law-firm-within-a law-school Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, with its extraordinarily well-connected network of alumni—has gone toe-to-toe with state and federal agencies and multinational corporations and has shaped environmental law and policy at the highest level. Just one area of the law. One important slice of what we do here. And always with the future in mind.

  • What Else Are You Going to Do?

    It’s a time-honored reason: Talented young people want to keep their options open, but don’t yet have a plan for using their talent. So they choose to attend law school.

    We think of the question differently here. Our diverse students share one important trait: they want to make a difference. They come here and they learn, first-hand, what it means to work on behalf of the underserved, to advocate for communities who feel powerless in the face of powerful economic interests, to fight for the health of the planet and for social justice.

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    Their Vermont Law degrees are just the start of diverse career paths that lead to high-level positions with influential agencies; they become organizers of grassroots movements, partners in top law firms, and directors in organizations such as The World Bank, USAID, and Earthjustice. They become the kind of leaders this world needs now more than ever. And so we ask again:

    You have one lifetime.

    What else are you going to do?

  • Principle First

    Lots of law schools around the country initially supported the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays and lesbians serving in the U.S. military. But when the schools risked losing federal funding for not allowing military recruiters on campus, only two of them—including Vermont Law School—stood up for what they believed was right. Professor Jackie Gardina recalls, “We wouldn’t welcome any employer on campus who wouldn’t accept applications from all of our qualified students.” The principled stance cost the school between $300,000 and $500,000 a year between 1999 and September 2011, when the policy was finally repealed.

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    While some law schools were passive in their opposition, Vermont Law School was a vocal, national leader. Its faculty presented white papers on the policy’s legal issues. Some 20-40 students traveled each year to Washington to lobby Congress. They held bake sales to fund their trips; VLS faculty and staff members made donations; and DC-area alumni opened their homes for lodging. On campus, the administration used its recruiting policy as an ongoing opportunity to articulate and defend the school’s position—and to keep the conversation alive in a community that is unusually engaged in matters of fairness and principle.

  • What Sustains Us

    In the area of how our country grows and distributes its food, the current body of law is planted in commoditized, industrial-scale mass production. At the same time, a more sustainable food movement has taken root—one that will require creative policies, new standards and regulations, fresh markets, and innovative structures to flourish. Small-scale organic farms. Farm-to-table networks. Grass-fed beef and free-range poultry. Urban gardens. Food not genetically modified for maximizing yield and profit. Agriculture that is good for people and good for the planet.

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    Laws need to change. Vermont Law School is nimbly—perhaps uniquely—positioned to train the leaders who will shape that change. A tiny handful of legal centers have sprung up across the country to shepherd the new body of law surrounding our food supply. Only one of them, Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS), is located in a state known for sustainable practices and progressive entrepreneurs. CAFS offers its students and faculty the chance to get their hands dirty with real farmers while having access to some of the country’s leading thinkers in the environment and agriculture. It’s an incredibly fertile place.

  • Justice for All Americans

    Low-income farm workers, incarcerated mothers, abused children, desperate immigrants—these are the real-life clients of the Vermont Law School’s South Royalton Legal Clinic (SRLC). Since 1979, the second-largest poverty law center in Vermont has relentlessly worked to help and protect the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Under the supervision of full-time staff attorneys, SRLC students have worked pro bono on more than 2,000 formal cases and consulted on many thousands more. Their important work is as basic as explaining disability benefits and as profound as keeping families together.

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    In one clinic project, VLS students work with Vermont Immigration and Asylum Advocates to provide pro bono legal services to recently arrived immigrant survivors of torture. The work exposes students to a larger world of injustice—and instills in them a deeper sense of the power of the law.

  • Because the Status Quo is No Longer Acceptable

  • The Country's Top Environmental Law Program

    Founded in 1978, the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law School has the largest graduate environmental law program in the country, and consistently ranks among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report. The multi-disciplinary program positions graduates to take lead roles in solving the world’s most complex and significant problems. We have planted a flag here for a simple reason: because you can’t solve the world’s problems without educating the world’s problem solvers.

  • Degrees & Programs
    A Place for Change

    This campus is different. It’s got the ingredients most people seek when they want to restore themselves—natural beauty, a purposeful sense of quiet, and a powerful sense of community. Vermont Law School is a place where students can see actual farmers bring eggs to market in the morning, and where they can take a hike between classes in the afternoon. Where faculty, male and female, straight and gay, participate in a drag revue. It’s a place where classes get cancelled after a major tropical storm so students can help neighbors clean up. The environment here is not an abstraction. It’s the point.

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    This is a place where law school students actually have fun. Where they are immersed in a diverse community of risk-takers and advocates who inspire each other and become friends for life.

    In Vermont there are no billboards, because our faculty helped create the laws 40 years ago that prohibit them. There are more CSAs here per capita than in any other state. Civil unions began here. Our power comes from wind, solar, and hydro sources. The alchemy of this place is difficult to define but hard to overstate. It’s transparently obvious to people who are here.

    We call it SoRo, but the map says South Royalton, Vermont.

    Join us.

The Power of the Law

A small committed law school in rural Vermont is quietly changing the world. Join us.