The curriculum for the JD/LLM in Environmental Law joint degree program combines the curriculum for the JD and the curriculum for the LLM in Environmental Law—with the important difference that students can count nine JD credits toward the LLM degree. Students must finish all of the JD requirements before beginning the LLM degree program, but, with nine JD credits toward the LLM degree, they can complete the LLM in only two additional semesters, rather than three. Joint degree students typically finish JD coursework in May of the third year, and then spend the following summer and fall earning credit toward the LLM degree.
The JD curriculum includes a first-year foundation in basic legal subjects as well as techniques of legal analysis; the second and third years of the JD program mostly consist of elective courses and subjects that will be covered on the bar exam. The LLM is a 30-credit degree with three required courses (LLM Graduate Seminar, Environmental Law, and Administrative Law), and the opportunity to shape an individual course of study by choosing from the law school's large number of environmental and energy law electives.
One-on-one academic advising is available to help students choose courses, identify valuable experiential opportunities, and otherwise take advantage of the extensive environmental program at VLS.
An important feature of the environmental program is the Summer Session during which students take classes and participate in a community of students and scholars exploring the cutting edge of environmental law and policy. JD/LLM students typically take summer classes after finishing their JD coursework. The summer faculty include regular VLS faculty, scholars from other law schools in the U.S. and other countries, public-interest advocates, experienced government attorneys, and lawyers from private practice. The program offers approximately 35 two- and three-week courses between early June and early August.
Students typically spend three hours in the classroom four days a week, leaving ample time to enjoy the many outdoor recreational opportunities in the Green Mountain State during the summer months, such as tubing down the White River, hiking the Long Trail, or enjoying a leisurely meal in South Royalton or any of the many other picturesque villages surrounding the law school.
The law school also hosts four Distinguished Summer Scholars who are leaders in Environmental Law, Energy Law and Policy, Agriculture and Food, and International Law. Each of these scholars is available to meet with students during their two-week residencies. In addition, the summer faculty, the Distinguished Summer Scholars, VLS Media Fellows, and other visitors offer several lunchtime "Hot Topics" lectures on different environmental topics each week over the course of the summer.
Download the Environmental Law Courses by Subject Area (.pdf)
Download the JD/LLM in Environmental Law Guidelines (.pdf)
JD/LLM students gain valuable, hands-on environmental law and policy experience through externships. Students may pursue an LLM externship for academic credit, either on a part-time basis with one of Vermont's many environmental organizations and agencies while continuing to take classes on campus, or full time for a semester after completing their coursework at VLS. Visit the Master's Externships page for more information.
JD/LLM students also may participate in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic to develop skills in environmental litigation, administrative procedures, and client counseling, or the Land Use Clinic, in which students work on land use issues with attorneys in Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources. In addition, JD/LLMs can take advantage of the full range of other experiential programs offered to JD students, including the Semester in Practice or Judicial Externship programs. All of these experiential programs help ensure that JD/LLM graduates are prepared the first day on the job.
Students who wish to pursue a particular specialty within environmental law may obtain a certificate in Climate Change Law, Energy Law, Land Use Law, or Water Law. More information about the VLS environmental certificates is available here.